China quality gets a bad rap. Who’s responsible anyway?

September 23, 2009

The stigma sticks with China like white on rice. Defective products, overabundant lead content, intellectual property infringement. China is constantly blamed for quality issues in products sold in the West. But who really is responsible for ensuring quality can be found in products shipped abroad from China?

Who has the final burden in assuring factories are producing goods to proper specs, shipping on time and protecting IP?

In a survey presented to 10 trade groups associated with manufacturing, engineering, supply chain and quality control this was the question posed. Participants eagerly provided a total 104 responses of which 49 gave specific answers. The results were summarized and compiled into 8 consistent categories. They were:

1. The Manufacturer – 11 respondents
2. Purchasing- the buyer- in house sourcing – 8 respondents
3. A reliable third party QC firm – 8 respondents
4. Cross functional teams (purchasing, engineering, & production) – 7 respondents
5. The company importing the goods – 7 respondents
6. In house QC – 4 respondents
7. The seller/customer – 3 respondents
8. Entire supply chain – 1 respondent

Readers also chimed in with these sage morsels of advice:

• Do not start LCC sourcing if you are not able to build the appropriate team. Consider outsourcing it to insure the quality of your supply chain.

• Specifications must be clear as to the quality standards expected and the acceptance test regime and what happens to the rejects – you do not want them to appear in the local street market if it is a branded item!

• Be present at intervals throughout the production process. The factory you visit may not be the one producing the goods.

• Establish a personal rapport with your supplier. It is good business and makes communication a lot easier.

• Arrange for acceptance testing – either by your own staff or by an outside agency in the country of origin. Nothing is shipped without inspection.

• Develop a supplier approval process.

• Allot resources for site visits.

• Get references for third party teams.

• Determine their ability to complete the contract. Determine if supplier is financially stable. Assure that they have systems and certifications, such as ISO-9001, in place.

• Ensure that they are motivated to provide quality and on-time delivery.

• Be clear why you are using a low cost country and take all costs into account – it may not be so low cost in the end.

So in summary, everyone has a stake in quality even though it is easiest to point the finger at the manufacturer (China). If we capture all the great advice from industry experts, heed the wisdom and incorporate all these due processes, everyone will come out a winner.

Linked In Groups:

GVRT Council of Supply Chain Managers
Global Sourcing
Innovative New Product and Service Innovators
ISM Purchasing and Supply Chain Managers
Offshoring & Outsourcing Forum
Procurement and Supply Chain Leaders
Procurement Professionals
Retail Global Sourcing
SME Society of Manufacturing Engineers
Strategic Sourcing and Procurement

David Alexander is President of BaySource Global, a leading China consulting firm specializing in project management, Quality Control services, sourcing, establishing China procurement, and selling into China. He can be reached at [email protected]


One Response to “China quality gets a bad rap. Who’s responsible anyway?”

  1. Aussie Department Store, Myer To Hike Outsourcing ManufacturingTo China | Outsource Portfolio on June 15th, 2011 5:29 am

    […] At any rate, Australian retailers say that this is a positive development with China since they found it difficult to compete with Chinese manufacturers. […]

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