When carrying out a China factory audit your potential supplier will be more than willing to show you their ISO 9001 certificate, but a better option to gauge their attitude to quality may be to take a look at their testing facilities.
Many factories in China – especially in state promoted industries – have well equipped and modern testing facilities, containing test equipment which companies are mandated to purchase.
If you are visiting a company for the first time, it is easy to be blinded by this expensive array of equipment. However, of more pressing concern are the following issues:
- Does the test lab actually get used?
- Is the equipment calibrated?
- Are tests carried out to a formal procedure?
- Are tests results analyzed against relevant standards and set criteria?
- How are test results recorded?
- Does the test lab employ technicians, or are tests carried out by the Quality Manager (a sure sign of trouble!)
- Is the laboratory accredited? If so, can you get a copy of the laboratory accreditation certificate?
Often Chinese factories will try to impress you with their equipment, but it is important to pose them with a few tricky questions in order to get the most from your China factory audit.
One good method is to request that testing on a sample is demonstrated. It is usually quite obvious if they have a clear test method in place or are making it up as they go.
To ensure their products are as good as they claim to be, all factories should have suitable means to check their production.
Usually this doesn’t require state of the art equipment; it requires appropriate testing to be carried out at regular intervals in a methodical manner, using calibrated machines to set procedures.
Checking the test laboratory might not be applicable in all factories as some products don’t really require such rigorous testing, so you can also take a look at the list we have prepared of 10 key objectives for your China factory audit.