Off-site? In-factory? What do these mean?
In this context of product QC inspections, let’s define the two terms:
- Off-site QC
Your supplier finishes producing your goods and they’re shipped to a third-party facility where product inspections are conducted before they’re shipped to you from China, Vietnam, or wherever they are made.
- In-factory QC
A QC inspector travels to your supplier’s factory to conduct product inspections either during production or after the goods are finished.
The latter, in-factory, inspections are what we refer to when we mention a typical on-site quality inspection. It is the most common approach, but not always the best.
Off-Site QC VS In-Factory QC
As you may have guessed, each type of inspection has its own benefits. Let’s examine them so you can choose which is suitable.
Off-Site QC Advantages
- Cheaper for very small quantities (no need to send someone out — the products can simply be sent by courier for checking in one central place).
- No supplier interference. This is welcome with suppliers that are suspected of putting a lot of pressure on the inspectors… or to bribe them outright.
- No ‘games’ can be played — for example, when the goods are still in the factory, mixing bad products with the good products that have just been approved for shipment. Many suppliers are known to do this.
- If this is done in our facility, we can ship the good products to you immediately and send the defectives ones back to the factory to be reworked by the supplier. You at least get some of the order, instead of everything being held up while the supplier fixes things.
In-Factory QC Advantages
- No need to send the products to another place (this represents a saving of money and time, though not enormous)
- No need to negotiate a special arrangement with the supplier — note that they might not be comfortable sending their products to another facility without having collected full payments. (There are ways around this — in some cases we take possession of the goods and they have a contract with us in China, which makes the whole affair less risky).
- The factory will do the repacking work, so you don’t pay for it.
- Factory people see the defects right there (instant feedback and learning), and they might be able to re-work them on the spot.
So, off-site QC VS in-factory QC, what’s right for you?
In general, most foreign buyers will send in quality inspectors to their supplier’s factory. Random AQL ‘Inspections During Production‘ or ‘Final Random Inspections‘ are both very popular solutions in this case. Most Chinese suppliers are accustomed to receiving inspectors and will not resist this, especially if it’s been made a prerequisite of your order.
However, if you’re working with a supplier who has been proven to be untrustworthy or is performing poorly on quality, you may feel more comfortable leaving it to a ‘local’ company to handle your supplier, or even performing a 100% inspection on the entire batch off-site at the trusted third party’s facility where the supplier can’t interfere. This is especially useful for Amazon FBA vendors who can’t tolerate even a low rate of defects, as this puts their business in jeopardy.
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