More China Plant Tour Tips – How To Check The Plant

| | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0)
The time that a buyer spends at a plant is crucially important. The main goal of taking a plant tour is to observe and judge the plant. So, taking full advantage of this visit comes down to a few very important considerations: What aspects should you pay particular attention to during the trip? and What questions should be asked in addition to inquiries about the product itself?

Here I want to share some tips based on my personal experience.

  • The boss/decision maker of the plant

    In general, the boss/decision maker’s attitude or working style is conveyed to his/her subordinates, and hence it will affect the efficiency of the whole production/delivery procedure. So if you find the boss is unprofessional or uncooperative from the very beginning, you should think twice about your choice of supplier.

  • The equipment of the plant

    The equipment can normally give a clear impression of the abilities of the plant. We are not necessarily saying the equipment has to be imported equipment; rather, we try to understand if the given equipment can deliver the ideal product. Asking the plant for the equipment list and maintenance status will be a smart test.

  • The production procedure and quality control

    Asking the plant if they have proper production procedures/quality control systems is very important. That helps us to understand if there is a systematic way to audit the whole process of implementing our order and insuring the right product is delivered on time. Normally, our questions would be along the following lines:
  1. Does the factory have daily production reports?
  2. Does it keep a weekly production progress report to identify and compare in-process and completed orders with order delivery dates?
  3. Does the factory have a written QA procedures or manuals?
  4. Does the factory complete its own final audits?
  5. Does the factory have documentation inspection standards?
  6. What percentage of received raw materials is inspected?
  7. Is there an inspection process between each production section?

Of course, the questions above are only part of what should make up the most frequently asked questions, and these are also subject to each buyer's individual needs during the visit. Yet they can be used as a basic guideline of what needs to be asked. 

  • The working environment of the plant
People sometimes tend to neglect the working environment of the plant. But this is actually an important indicator of the quality of the plant and of some aspects that will affect the quality of the product, such as cleanliness and tidiness of the production areas, and adequate lighting in the factory, especially in areas that will affect the quality of the product (inspection, hand operations, painting, silk screening, printing, packing, testing, etc.), etc.

Generally speaking, many aspects affect and can reflect the quality or the standard of the plant. Different products, different amounts of an order can sometimes also make different requirements of the plant. The visitor should prepare the necessary questions beforehand, and not merely ask random questions during the visit.

0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: More China Plant Tour Tips – How To Check The Plant.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.chinasourcingblog.org/blog/mt-tb.cgi/170

3 Comments

David Levy Author Profile Page said:

Basically sound advice, but I have a few issues with it:

1. Your final two points:
----------------------------------
6. What percentage of received raw materials is inspected?
7. Is there an inspection process between each production section?
----------------------------------

seem to imply that more inspection is better, If the factory relies too much on inspection, it means their sourcing and process control may have problems. I would say that if they have lots of inspection, look at why so much inspection is required. I would look for Zero Defect strategies to be deployed in process.


2. "good factory" will have process control and good process verification. You should also look for how production processes are verified, what data (in terms of defects) is collected, and how the management responds to the data collected (Corrective actions and continuous improvement).

3. It's a good idea to look at the process flow of a factory. A factory where raw materials, WIP and/or finished goods are batched and temporary inventory may have hidden defects (and hidden costs) which will affect the customer.

David Levy Author Profile Page said:

Basically sound advice, but I have a few issues with it:

1. Your final two points:
----------------------------------
6. What percentage of received raw materials is inspected?
7. Is there an inspection process between each production section?
----------------------------------

seem to imply that more inspection is better, If the factory relies too much on inspection, it means their sourcing and process control may have problems. I would say that if they have lots of inspection, look at why so much inspection is required. I would look for Zero Defect strategies to be deployed in process.


2. A good factory will have process control and good process verification. You should also look for how production processes are verified, what data (in terms of defects) is collected, and how the management responds to the data collected (Corrective actions and continuous improvement).

3. It's a good idea to look at the process flow of a factory. A factory where raw materials, WIP and/or finished goods are batched and temporary inventory may have hidden defects (and hidden costs) which will affect the customer.

Kevin said:

David, thanks very much for your comment.

The process flow inspection you mention is indeed important for procurement activities. In fact, before I posted this article I collected some details on the process flow of inspection and quality control. I eventually deleted these parts, however, because I thought this posting was dealing rather with the initial contact between the sourcing people and the plant, thus the part where the sourcing people form their first impressions of the plant.

People engaging in sourcing will obviously want to check as many potentially good plants as possible, and it will be hard for them to check the plants at that depth in the first round visits. Indeed, the process flow inspection which you mention sounds more like a QA/QC inspection. But I think you have made some good points here and I welcome you to continue the discussion and share more of your insights.

Kevin

Leave a comment

Managed by

The Beijing Axis

Follow us