For any organisation that is a part of the wholesale business, it is essential to have proper systems in place in order to govern its core processes. These sales processes are sales transactions, warehousing and storing, logistics, and so on.
In this article, let’s dive into logistics, or rather, a very important aspect of logistics. It would suffice to say that this aspect of logistics deserves a lot more attention than transportation, shipping, and handling. Quality control happens to be one of the most crucial aspects of logistics, with the ability to avert problems before molehills become mountains.
So let's understand what quality control is, and delve into it a little bit more by understanding its benefits and types. Read on to know more!
An Overview of Quality Control
Quality control is a segment of logistics management that deals with inspecting the quality of products at various stages of the production process, from initial inspection to final distribution. It requires both employees and management to strive for perfection. Hence, the company sets benchmarks for product quality, and if any product or unit doesn't meet these minimum requirements before shipping, then the product is reworked or disposed of.
Now that you know what quality control is, let's briefly talk about the importance of digitising it aka undergoing digital transformation. So, what is digital transformation? It essentially refers to the integration of digital processes and tools in various areas of a business. It completely revolutionizes the way you operate and deliver value to customers.
The importance of quality control in the pre-shipment phase
Quality control aims to elevate the efficiency and accuracy of the company's logistics system hosted on various tools and software.
Consider leveraging an enterprise product adoption and learning management system (such as Pendo or any of the Pendo competitors) that enables your team to easily and proficiently adopt the supply chain management software you bring in, with the help of guided walkthroughs and tutorials. Such a product-experience platform helps your logistics team adopt new software and digital tools quickly.
With that in place, you can think of quality control. Here are a few key reasons why quality control is necessary:
- Ensure accuracy: One of the most essential functions of quality control is to ensure accuracy. A company with a control system in place at every stage of production and distribution can provide customers with a well-finished and defect-free product.
- Protect company reputation: Quality control will logically keep up the company's reputation by customers not constantly complaining about the deplorable quality of the product.
- Reduce marketing costs: When customers are content with the quality of products from a particular company, there is a high chance they order again. Hence, in a small way, effective quality control does help your company reduce its marketing costs.
Important quality checks during the pre-shipping phase
Quality checks depending upon your requirement
Quality checks within the factory
This is where external inspectors or third-party quality control agencies perform the check within the factory. These inspectors go about performing random checks on products around the floor, which happens to be a standard way of checking product quality before shipping. This check can help save time in detecting shortcomings in product batches.
Internal inspectors are employees of the company who have been trained to perform these quality control checks. These checks play an essential role in the internal audit system of the company and are much cheaper than hiring external inspectors. But, make sure that internal officers are trained sufficiently to point out the usual trouble points.
Inspection of finished goods
This check is performed by all finished goods one by one. This piece-by-piece quality control check must be performed by individuals who are not a part of your company, just to make sure that they give a transparent remark. Each inspector or a group of inspectors can be assigned particular batches. So in case, any defect complaint is raised from the customer's end, it can be traced back to the particular inspector.
Quality check procedures you must perform before shipping
Health and safety regulations
This is to make sure that all your products are in compliance with the necessary health and safety regulations. Inspection teams can conduct these checks on different parameters, based on the type of the product. These tests include mechanical safety checks, fire safety checks, electrical safety checks, and so on.
In case the products are garments, then the necessary pull, fatigue, and stretch tests can be performed for quality inspection. The inspection team needs to conduct these tests and attach country-specific safety labels and markings before shipping them out.
Random inspection involves pre-shipment teams picking out products randomly from different lots in order to make sure that the products are free of defects. They make use of Acceptance Quality Limit (AQL) in order to calculate the maximum amount of defective products in a particular batch that can be accepted, and if the number crosses that then the entire batch is rejected.
Industry and Government standards
Before you ship out your products, you need to make sure that they meet all the necessary industry and government standards. Ask yourself, does your product really match up to whatever is being regulated by the government and industry. Analyse where the shipment is going to understand the various checkpoints it will face during the journey and ensure compliance everywhere.
Quantity verifications are one of the most important checks to be performed before the product is shipped out. It is up to the inspection team to verify whether the quantity of products matches that on the purchase order. All the parcels are counted along with the right number of products in each box. In case there are various different products in a package, then the package is checked separately.
This method makes sure that the accurate quantity of products has been shipped from the production house to the destination.
Before you ship your products, you need to make sure that the type of packaging you have opted for can protect your product from accidental damage. The package must match the nature of the product being shipped — its fragility or its tolerance to certain temperatures.
The type of packaging you opt for your products also largely depends on how you transport them, i.e., air, ground, or ship. Make sure that your packaging is sturdy enough to protect your products against any accidental damage they might bear during transit. Understand the logistics of how the product is being delivered, and package accordingly.
Consistency is a vital factor in all quality assurance checks. You have to make sure that all the products that you ship align with the exact specifications on the catalogue. Customers tend to compare the products they receive with the ones they saw in the online catalogue, so ensure that the product being shipped matches exactly what was shown to them. Pay attention to the size, weight, workmanship, and technical specifications of the products closely.
In the case of repeat orders, consistency is important again. Ensure that the quality and specifications of the product match that of the customer’s prior purchase. Even a minute drop in the quality of the product will make the client think that they are getting an inferior product. If you have made an aesthetic change to the packaging, make sure you inform them about this change beforehand and assure them that the product inside is still the same.
Cosmetic errors check
In this process, a random number of products are picked out from the bunch and checked for any signs of cosmetic damage or workmanship error. This is done to check any visible defects as per the product specifications. The defects found in this stage are then further subdivided minor, major, or critical, based on the acceptable tolerance levels in the agreement.
Once the entire quality inspection is done, the inspection team will compile a report based on their overall findings and results. Before the payment processing and final shipment, this report is submitted to the manufacturer, as well as the buyer.
Important quality control procedures to keep in mind
Companies must have their own quality control manual. This stands true even if you hire external inspectors to do the quality assurance checks. They may have their own systems in place and follow the industry standards. Even so, having your own manual gives you the control you need based on your unique products and requirements.
Your company’s quality control manual must contain a brief overview of the company's inspection processes. Typically, there are three ways the inspector could go by the inspection:
While conducting 100% inspection, every item is carefully checked by an inspector to ensure products are checked accurately. This type of inspection completely eliminates the risk of selling defective goods to your customers. Usually, inspectors prefer implementing 100% Inspection while inspecting highly valuable products and goods like silver and gold. This method is also utilized while inspecting goods like produce and meat, which are very likely to become faulty while being produced.
Partial inspection, commonly referred to as sample inspection, is when inspectors only evaluate a particular quantity of goods instead of inspecting every item. And based on the quality of these particular products, the complete unit will either be qualified for sale or rejected. Usually, when a sample product is deemed poor quality by an inspector, businesses conduct 100% inspection of the complete stock to crosscheck the inspector’s report.
Piece by piece vs. random selection
The inspector will either check all products piece-by-piece or simply choose products at random. These procedures can change according to the nature or type of the product.
Just like the name suggests, inspectors visually inspect products to make sure they are properly packed and are labelled correctly as well. In case any product doesn’t meet the above requirement, you will have to package it once more or relabel it.
Some other quality control procedures inspectors must keep in mind include:
- Manual counting of quantity
- Product testing
- Weight check
So there you have it, everything you need to know about ensuring quality control before shipping a product. Many businesses have little focus on quality control with the goal to reduce shipping times. This approach is obviously flawed for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there are other means to reduce shipping times. There is no need to compromise on the reputation of your brand in the name of speedy shipping. Secondly, customer dissatisfaction caused by slower shipping isn’t even close to what the customer feels when they receive damaged goods. So, when it comes to ensuring quality, better safe than sorry!