A Beginner's Guide to Product Inspection

A Beginner's Guide to Product Inspection

Posted on 07 Dec 2022

A Beginner's Guide to Product Inspection

Product inspection is one of the key elements of the entire quality management process. It ensures the manufacturing and launching of a flawless product to the consumers. There is no arguing that the product inspection process is critical to minimise the number of product recalls, helping build the audience’s confidence in your brand and letting you attain manufacturing excellence.

This article will delve deep into the process, discuss the benefits of product inspection and more. This will help you gain a fair understanding of the what, why and how of this process in the entire manufacturing process value chain.

What is Product Inspection?

The product inspection process involves evaluating a physical product at various stages of its manufacturing to ensure that it meets specific quality standards. This process helps prevent defective products from reaching the warehouse or retail store.

Companies must conduct rigorous product inspection processes at the pre-production stage, the manufacturing stage and the pre-shipment stage. A thorough product quality inspection is critical to remove the guesswork on the functionality and the quality of the finished product.

Today in the e-commerce era, pre-shipment inspection has gained relevance because of the uptick in the number of consumers receiving wrong or defective products. Such experiences trigger a chain reaction that ends in tarnishing your brand name.

In general, product inspection services can be classified into the following categories:


Initial Production Check (IPC)

This product inspection process is conducted on-site prior to the beginning of the manufacturing of a product or after 20% completion of the product. It involves an in-depth inspection of raw materials and machinery used to manufacture a product.

A critical point in any manufacturing process is when the first batch is produced. Getting it wrong may mean halting the entire production run and incurring additional costs.

For example, if a batch of your product fails to meet your specifications, you will have to start over with new materials. This can be very expensive as you are paying for raw materials again while they are still being manufactured into the product. In addition, it takes time to restart production, and there might not be enough time left before shipping deadlines pass and customers have their orders delayed or cancelled altogether.

During Production Inspection (DUPRO)

It is an onsite product quality inspection process conducted after you complete up to 80% of your product manufacturing stage, including packing for shipment. This process involves random inspection of units from the completed packages. It helps you to determine whether the entire manufacturing process is aligned with your original specifications and if the production is on schedule.

DUPRO is an ongoing process used throughout the production cycle of a product. It ensures that you are consistently producing high-quality products, meeting your customers’ needs and maximising profitability.

Pre-Shipment Inspection (PSI)

This process involves inspecting randomly selected units from completed product packages. The pre-shipment product quality inspection happens when your production is completed by 80%. At this stage, you determine any costly mistakes and rectify them before the final product is packed and shipped.

Container Loading Check (CLC)

In this stage, inspectors would randomly pick packages and test those to ascertain whether each package contains the quality and quantity of product that matches the product specifications approved by you. This product inspection process helps you to determine whether all the packaging materials are correctly labelled and have the correct barcodes.


Production Monitoring (PM)

The product monitoring stage involves inspectors conducting on-site scrutinization of your factory and the manufacturing process. It helps you to curb the chances of manufacturing faulty products.


Pre-Customs Clearance Inspection

This type of product inspection is conducted before dispatching product shipments to Mexico. It involves visual inspection of package conditions, invoices, compliance with Mexican regulations, pre-tariff categorization and more.

2. Benefits of Product Inspection

Here’s a low down of the top benefits of product inspection:

Ensures Superior Product Quality

Product quality control allows you to verify whether the product meets the desired quality standard at the manufacturing site. This ensures that the final product is free from any defects and obtains the targeted response from your audience.

You receive a photo and video evidence of the inspected product. These pieces of evidence help you to tally the product with the pre-approved sample and help you determine the way the end product will shape up.

Saves Time and Money

There are a few instances where companies, in a bid to save money, either skip the product quality inspection phase or skew their investment into this process. This is where things may go south. Without proper scrutiny, there are chances of ample slip-ups during the manufacturing process. These slip-ups include low-quality raw materials, deviating from the initial product specifications, wrong product labelling and more.

The time and money that it takes to firefight these slip-ups are way more than what the company would have saved by skipping production inspection.


Decreases Chances of Bad Customer Reviews

Customers, including your loyal customers, will land at the door of your competitor if you deliver a bad product experience. This does not end here. They may take to their social media handles to relate their ordeal which would spread like wildfire and tarnish your brand reputation.

Therefore, a thorough product quality inspection is a must to keep good customer reviews coming. These reviews will also pique the interest of other prospective customers of your brand.

 

Safeguard Retailers’ Interests

As a retailer, there are chances of you getting duped by your manufacturer. Sometimes, manufacturers add low-quality raw materials or add faulty products at the bottom layer of good-quality products to save money.

This makes production inspection extremely critical during the manufacturing process to avoid the instances stated above.


3. How Do You Prepare for Product Inspections?

It is important that inspectors understand the expectations of the end product when they prepare for a product inspection.

Firstly, they must obtain a product sample from the supplier, get it approved and mark it as a golden sample. This golden sample is the benchmark that an inspector must refer to while determining the quality of the final product.

Secondly, they must create a QC checklist that will include the pre-set product specifications for quality and design. This sets a clear criterion that an inspector must refer to while conducting on-site or off-site product testing.

Lastly, an inspector must schedule a service appointment beforehand as per a manufacturer’s convenience so that it does not interfere with the daily production schedule.

4. Product Inspection Checklist

Inspectors should use an inspection checklist to help ensure that all aspects of the product are being checked. An inspection checklist is a list of items to be checked or verified during an inspection. It ensures that all aspects of the product are inspected properly. This also serves as a reference for documenting defects.

Here’s a look at a typical product inspection checklist:

Visual Inspection

The product inspection checklist must enlist all the units of a product that an inspector will examine.

Labelling and Packaging

Inspectors must verify if all your packages are labelled correctly. The labels must have the necessary information that is legible and accurate. It is the duty of the inspectors to verify if the packages are not damaged at the finished production inspection phase.

Barcode Validation

Inspectors must ensure that all the UPC labels correctly reflect the purchase order data. They must ensure that the barcodes are scannable.

Functionality Testing

This testing involves figuring out how an inspector should run a physical examination of a product to ensure its functionality.

Special Product Testing

A key part of the checklist is creating and running tests to check a product's unique characteristics.

Physical Attributes

Inspectors leverage various product testing tools to ensure the current physical attributes of the manufactured unit match the predetermined specifications of the product.

Carton Drop Tests

In a carton drop test, your carton is dropped on the ground from different angles to ensure there is no damage to the product or packaging inside. This test simulates rough treatment that may occur during the overseas shipping journey.

It is critical that inspectors review and update their inspection checklists every time they perform an inspection. If you use paper-based documents like forms or cards, keep them up-to-date by adding new information as you learn it. Cross off old information when no longer relevant (for example, if a form has two columns labelled "defect" and "description," cross out any items in the first column once they're corrected).


5. Product Inspection Procedure

The product inspection procedure is an elaborate process that starts with preparing for product testing to conducting different production inspection techniques such as visual inspection, pressure testing, electrical testing and others. Each of the steps in this entire procedure is critical. Missing a single step will result in a biased or inaccurate inspection report.

Here’s a look at the product inspection procedure:

Production Status Evaluation

Practically, an inspector acts as the eye and ear of the company ordering the inspection. This is why every product inspection procedure must begin with finding out the status of production. The company will get an update on whether the manufacturing process is on time or is running behind the schedule.

Inspectors must track the number of completed and uncompleted product units to be indexed cartons, items and pallets. The findings must be summarised in a report and sent to the company for reference.


Random Sampling

This step involves creating a sampling plan like an AQL explain or a customised plan. As per the plan, inspectors pull out cartons from the most remote corner of a stack and bring them to the inspection area.


Product Inspection

At this stage, inspectors follow their methods or conduct product testing as per the company’s specifications. 

  • They rely on methods like the Pantone colour swatch to check packaging colours. They determine whether the labels, dimensions and barcodes are consistent with the specifications provided by the company.

  • Next step is a visual inspection of the product characteristics. It involves determining whether the product is packed with all the necessary accessories. The inspectors need to determine whether the package includes necessary items like the product manual, silica gel and others. They must tally the products with the approved sample.

  • They conduct on-site product testing that is done as per the nature of the product. For instance, a carton drop test is carried out for a product with a shipping carton and function testing is conducted for appliances like a toaster. Balancing testing is done for car wheels.


Defects Review

At this stage, inspectors must review all the glitches found in the product. They must enter multimedia references of the glitches, compile them in a report and send them to the company.

However, the duty of an inspector does not end here. There are chances that people at the manufacturing facility disagree with the product testing results. In such cases, an inspector must be present to address any concerns or queries regarding the inspection services.

Conclusion

Product inspections are an essential part of any manufacturing process. They assure that the products you create will meet all necessary quality standards and ensure there are no defects in the final product. If a manufacturer does not conduct sufficient quality control tests, retailers may refuse to buy their products altogether or only accept them on a case-by-case basis under strict stipulations.

Partner with frontrunners like Global Inspection Managing in the product inspection services field to avoid the scenarios stated above. Being industry experts, we stay at the top of all the quality requirements across multiple domains. We leverage this expertise and create highly sophisticated product inspection service plans that are suited to the specification of your product. Drop an email at info@inspectionmanaging.com to know how we can bring business value to your table.

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