QC and Material Safety

Product quality is a great concern for all companies, but for firms that import from overseas, quality control warrants even more attention. This is because great physical distances, longer lead time, expensive shipping costs, cultural differences, and communication problems will all make discovery of quality issues much later and problem resolution much more difficult.

Common Quality Issues

Quality issues can be in many different forms. The table below lists the most typical and common problem categories we have encountered in our experience.
Typical Quality Problem Areas
Packaging Packaging requirements are often very specific for marketing or shipping protection reasons. Commonly used packaging materials are pp bags, inner boxes, header cards, plastic holding trays, wrapping papers, etc. Since different clients often need different packaging for the same products produced by the same manufacturers, we ensure packaging requirements are met correctly and consistently each time through detailed written instruction, pictures and product inspection.
Labeling Depending on the product, labels can be regular adhesive labels, fabric, aluminum-coated, plastic, or other materials. They can simply have black words/numbers printed on them or with 4-color printing artwork. The position of the label, the size, the correct words or artwork need to be reconfirmed and checked against documentation, artwork or samples for every production run.
Product Specification For each order, we send, as attachment, checklists of important product features and requirements that might be easily overlooked, in addition to a full detailed specification sheet of the product. Follow ups and inspections will be conducted during and after productions.
Customized Configuration Clients often need customized configuration for products that are relatively technically sophisticated. Examples are microscopes and balances. These special requirements are kept in our product technical configuration sheet, which will be used for each production run. Our technical inspector will ensure conformity.
Technical Quality For product features that cannot be inspected by simple visual observation, measuring, and trying, we will use experienced technical inspector to conduct technical product inspection.Microscope is a good example, which our technical inspector will typically participate in quality control during production and, most of the time, technically check each set.
Repeat & Frequent Issues Mistakes or problems with products that have occurred in the past are recorded in our quality checklists. Special attention will be paid to these problems, and special instructions will be sent to manufacturers.
Unapproved Changes Regardless of the intention or how small the change is, unapproved changes to any product feature may have unexpected negative impact on the client’s marketing strategy or product design. Our manufacturers are instructed not to make any unapproved changes on products. Our rigorous inspection procedure also minimizes the possibility of unapproved product changes.
Overall Cleanness and Look We pay attention to general cleanness and appearance of the products. Products that are not clean or with excessive scratches or dents will be either replaced or rejected.

Quality Control Procedures

Our quality control procedures are key to our effectiveness in keeping high quality levels and constantly improving them. Below is a succinct summary of the process we use.

- Confirmation of Specifications

Whether it is a new product or repeat order, we always confirm or re-confirm all specifications and packaging/labeling before we finalize an order with our clients. For new products or requirements, samples will typically be sent for confirmation.

- Quality Level and Inspection Plan

AQL Level II is our default standard for devising our sampling plan for inspection, with reject levels 1.0 for critical attributes, 2.5 for major attributes, and 4.0 for minor attributes. We can also use a standard of your choosing.

- Material Testing

For products intended for children under 12 years of age, we provide full testing services to ensure the materials conform to the latest U.S. CPSIA or EN71 standards. Our tests are done through recognized 3rd party testing agencies like SGS or Intertek.

- Before Production

Before production starts, we send to manufacturers full sets of documents that include detailed product specifications, checklists, drawings, artwork, labeling/packaging instructions, and shipping marks. Critical product features are not only in the specification sheet, but are also in checklists which we ask our suppliers to pay special attention to. In addition to written documentation, we always re-confirm and explain by phone again.

- During Production

After the production starts, we regularly follow up with manufacturers to get update on the progress. Pictures of products or production samples may be requested for confirmation and also to find problems early if there are any issues.
For high cost items or high volume orders, we might schedule one or more mid-production inspections during production to monitor production process, give guidance, and prevent potential quality issues.

- Final Inspection

We inspect every batch of products before we ship them out. Inspection plans based on AQL Level II will be devised and strictly followed. Inspection results will be filed in our internal reports. We will inform our inspection results to our clients before shipping. Pictures of products and packaging will also be emailed to our clients for reference.

Material Safety

We fully understand the lead, phthalate, and other potentially toxic substance content limits for products intended for children 12 years or younger, as stipulated by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and EN71. For educational products, the main concern is lead content in product components accessible by hand and surface coating (paint, ink, etc.).
We randomly select production samples and send them to accredited 3rd party testing labs for tests. Test reports will be provided to our clients. For manufacturers with strict process control, we typically perform one test on production samples. However, for manufacturers with weaker process control, we often do 2 tests, one before production and one after production. The 1st test is to make sure that the factory is capable of producing products that meet the relevant material safety requirements. The 2nd test will confirm that the batch produced for our specific order also meet the same requirements.

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