How to Make Chinese Factory Visits More Successful – Part Three – Inspecting the Manufacturing Areas

After you got your first impressions mask making machine factory of the factory upon arrival and learned more at the first meeting. Next, your job will be to look at the different production and storage areas in detail to find out if the factory complies with your company’s quality expectations.

Quality Control for Incoming Material and Components

A busy factory will receive materials on a daily basis. These include raw materials, components, packing materials, and anything needed from different vendors to support the production.

Your task is to check whether the factory has established a systematic and effective incoming material/components quality control system.Ask your factory representative to take you to the incoming area to observe the Q.C. staff conducting the incoming inspection.

Rejected Materials and Components

Here is another way to check up on the factory’s incoming Q.C. process. If they try to tell you that they do not have any rejected materials or components, you can be sure that the Q.C. staff is either not being thorough enough or they are lying and they don’t have an incoming Q.C. process. Normally, every delivery will have at least a few rejects.

Visiting the Q.C. Department and Testing Equipment

This department is vital for maintaining a high quality level during production. Do not ever skip a visit to this department in order to save time. The Q.C. department is management’s method for constantly monitoring the production quality of the factory. Here, you really want to find out if you are in good hands or not. Every time goods have to be reworked or remade it costs the factory a substantial amount of money. Only constant monitoring of internal quality standards assures the factory that a major rework or remake will be avoided.

The average factory has a separate room with testing equipment and of one or more engineers to running it. When you enter this room, take note of how well they have organized themselves. You may find anything. It could be a complete mess or well laid out testing room.

Separate Q.C. Rooms for the Customers Inspectors

It is common for customers to send their own inspectors or hire an outside inspection company to perform at least a random final inspection before the goods ship. The factory is expected to provide separate Q.C. rooms for these inspectors.

If the factory does not have separate Q.C. rooms for customer inspectors, you have to refrain from working with them because they certainly do not meet the minimum requirements for quality control.

Visit the Factory’s Mold Shop

Larger factories usually have their own mold shops where different types of molds are made.

I assume that you are not an engineer and therefore maybe not very familiar with mold design and construction. It should be adequate for you to see if the factory has a mold shop at all and learn a little something about the technical equipment they are using. Since product quality depends heavily on the precision of the mold, you should be very concerned if the mold shop is using old and outdated equipment.

Metal Punching Area

Similar to the mold shop, not every factory will have or need this equipment. If they have it, it helps them control another part of their cost equation. If the factory is using as 20 or more of these extremely expensive machines, you can imagine that their volume must be quite high, otherwise they would not have invested the money.

The Injection Molding Department

After you have seen the mold shop and learned how molds for the injection machines are made, you can now see them in operation. Injection machines are also very expensive and some of them are as big as a large truck if very large plastic parts need to be injected. It is important that you understand the factory’s injection molding capacity. Often the injection capacity defines the factory’s total capacity.

Spray Painting Department

Spray painting must be done in a spray booth that can control the emissions of particles and solvents.You may find during your factory visits that some workers in the spray booths are not wearing a protective mask at all.

Solvents such as toluene and xylene are considered to be air toxic, and could cause health problems in humans.

If you don’t want to work with companies using child labor or forced labor, you really should not want to work with factories that do not care about their workers health.

Production and Assembly Lines

This part of the factory tour is preferred by most visitors. There is so much to see including the lot of beautiful girls from all the different provinces in China.

Check if production is arranged in a logical order. Common sense applies here but factories do not always follow common sense.

Workers are not typically allowed to talk to each other when working at the conveyor belt. If they are talking or arguing with each other and nobody intervenes, it is another sign of poor management.

You may come across ongoing production of goods for other companies, even your competitors. It is a good idea to take notes and photos because this information can be important for your sales managers back home.

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