Why Checking Quality During Loading Is A Bad Idea

In this post, I’m going to address whether checking quality during loading, if it’s even possible to do it at that time, is a good idea. I don’t think so, and here’s why…

Can you check product quality when containers are being loaded?

This week I was at a trade show in Hong Kong. I met with many new (inexperienced) buyers. Several of them asked me “So, when do you check quality? When the factory is loading the container?”

Absolutely not.

If you send a third-party inspector in the factory during the loading process, he cannot stop it regardless of what he finds. So checking quality during loading at that time is useless.

That’s not to say that a container loading inspection serves no purpose.

It will help you to check:

  • Conformity of products
  • Outer packing
  • Total quantity and breakdown
  • The container(s)
  • The handling and the loading process
  • The seal

While these checks won’t guarantee product quality, they do provide protection for importers who have very specific requirements for goods to be packed in a certain way in the container, lack trust in their supplier to load the right items, or have different items coming in from different suppliers which all need to be loaded together.

But if checking product quality at this time, know that the inspector has no authority to force the factory or the forwarder to cancel the shipment. And, even if he managed to pass a message to the buyer, the situation is generally too complex to take a decision right away. Better to wait for a full report.


What’s the better alternative for inspecting quality soon before shipping? Final Random Inspections

A final random inspection is indispensable in 95% of cases. When we perform one we can take samples at random, out of the total ordered quantity, and we can test them fully.

A final inspection should take place at least 2 days before the ex-factory date. This way, the buyer has the time to receive the inspection report and to communicate with the supplier. It is very frequent to ask for small corrections, for example on product labeling, before authorizing shipment.

It is even better if this inspection is scheduled 10 days before the closing date. This way, there is time to take in-depth corrective actions if major issues are noticed by the inspector. However, in practice, it is often difficult to force the manufacturer to respect this timing.

If you really do not trust your supplier, do a final inspection AND a packing loading supervision…


Do you have any questions about checking quality during loading, or any other product inspections to assess your product quality coming out of China and Asia? Please leave a comment below and we’ll be glad to answer.


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