Pre-shipment inspections are a must in the modern world. With so many different products crossing oceans and reaching into your homes, you can never be too sure if the product you’re getting is safe or not. In addition, if you run a business, you will need to make sure that your products are up to the standards you’ve set for yourself. Nowadays, entire companies can get shut down overnight just because of one bad shipment.
Obviously, even some of the most seasoned business owners aren’t too sure about what makes a good inspection. However, businesses with high standards, like our own Jonble, will always strive to provide the best, most detailed pre-shipment inspections out there. And in order to do that, we follow a list of 12 dos and don’ts about inspecting goods and products. This list, which we will cover in a bit, contains the most important details you should pay attention to when considering a pre-shipment inspection.
But before we move on to the list itself, we need to establish what pre-shipment inspections are and why they’re important.
What Is a Pre-Shipment Inspection?
A Pre-Shipment Inspection (PSI) is a type of quality control method. It helps you make sure that the quality of goods you receive from suppliers is up to the highest of standards.
Let’s say that you’ve just finished manufacturing 100% of your units that you plan to ship. In addition, you’ve packaged about 80% of them. At that point, an inspector is sent to your factory in order to perform a number of different quality checks. Normally, they will check for the following:
- Are the packages and labels in order?
- Do the products look in order?
- What are the dimensions of each product?
- What are some of the other physical requirements of the product?
- How well do they handle functional and drop tests, as well as other types of testing?
- Are the barcodes valid?
Of course, each inspector has to follow a certain set of rules before they start pre-shipment inspections. That way, you, the manufacturer, will be safe from any inspection malpractices. The investigator should take these rules into consideration:
- They must be transparent
- They mustn’t discriminate on any grounds
- Confidential business information should not be compromised during the inspection
- They must avoid causing any delays
- Their price verification should follow a set of its own rules (i.e. comparison with similar products)
- Their inspection agency must establish an appeals procedure.
Since an inspector will pick products at random to check, PSIs are also called final random inspections, or FRI. If you want to learn more about random inspections at Jonble, have a click right here.
Why Are Pre-Shipment Inspections Important?
How many times has it happened to you — you buy a car radio with Bluetooth and it doesn’t connect, or you buy a folding chair and the fabric appears snapped in the packaging? There are even horror stories out there of people buying a can of soda only to find a dead frog inside.
These should be the obvious reasons behind the importance of PSIs. They will ensure that your products don’t lack anything and that they are ready for shipping.
There are some important benefits to a PSI. Some of the most crucial ones include:
- Verifying product quality so that you (or your buyers) don’t deal with defective units
- Making sure that your factory made the product exactly per your specifications
- Avoiding defective product returns that might negatively affect your company’s image
- Making sure your products are safe and don’t contain any health hazards.
- Reducing the risk of smuggling illegal substances
- Checking all of the relevant paperwork for any mistakes
The Dos and Don’ts of PSI: Our List
Now that you understand the ins and outs of PSIs, we can move onto our list of dos and don’ts.
DO Have a PSI Checklist
You will need a detailed PSI checklist to provide to your inspector. It will help them keep an eye out for any defects and mistakes. More importantly, you can make sure that each product is being made according to your specifications.
DO Visit Your Factory
Visiting your factory gives you the opportunity to see if there are any problems early on. However, you don’t want to do it too early, as that might halt production. Instead, organize pre-shipment inspections when production reaches around 80%. That way, you will have the time to fix any issue without losing extra time on the production of new, proper units.
DO Check Product Quantity
When doing a quantity check, you will need the customer’s specifications. You should have more than the exact number of units they are looking for. In addition, check for the delivery deadlines; if you’re running out of time, validate the customer’s specifications and act accordingly.
DO Perform Visual Inspections
In shipping, we have a term called Acceptance Quality Limit or AQL. When you’re checking your products with your naked eye, assess any external damage, and check for defects. Anything that falls under AQL guidelines is ready for shipping.
DO Select and Check Samples
When doing a PSI, you don’t have to go over every product individually. Instead, pick a sample product or a few and test them. Depending on the inspection levels, you can decide whether you want to ship the products or not.
DO Compliance Checks
You set the rules for making your products, so it’s only logical that you want to test them before these items ship. In addition, check to see if they fit the customers’ requirements. These usually include tags, labels, packaging, manuals, as well as quantity.
DO Safety Tests
Depending on what kind of product you manufacture, it will need to pass a series of safety tests. Said tests will ensure that your product won’t harm the customer or damage the environment. For example, if you make chemicals, they will need extensive lab testing. Electrical appliances need performance testing, while other objects need to pass tests of durability so that they don’t bend, break, tear, or snap after the purchase.
DON’T Avoid Chemical Testing
Any product might contain some restricted chemicals. If you don’t send them off to get the proper lab testing, you can risk harming your customers or other retailers. Not only is that a health hazard, but it can also damage your reputation, which is not good for business.
DON’T Ignore Visible Defects
Some products will have large cracks, defective parts, or other signs of damage. However, even if you spot a minimal defect, such as a scratch or a smudge, don’t ignore it.
There are two major reasons for paying attention to slight defects. First, they might hide a bigger, more serious defect. Second, the customer might take one look at the defect and decide not to buy the product at all.
DON’T Ignore Inspecting Labels
When making a product, you need to provide all of the relevant labels. Is the product fragile, hazardous, or perishable? How should you transport it? How many units do you need to ship and when?
Sadly, lots of companies don’t invest in proper labeling, so the customer stays uninformed. That’s why it’s incredibly important not to skip checking the labels for accuracy.
DON’T Ship a Product That Failed a Safety Test
Whether it’s clothing, home appliances, or a bar of soap, all products need to go through safety tests. If your product passes one of these tests, it’s good to go.
However, some manufacturers tend to ship products that failed one or more of these tests. Other manufacturers simply ignore testing altogether. And if you ship a product that’s likely to break down or fail in some other way, that product can cause customer incidents and lead to other potential risks.
DON’T Neglect Country-Specific Safety Labels
Testing a product for safety is just the first step, especially if you plan to ship overseas. In order to get your product to a customer from a different country, you need to pay attention to the safety labels specific to that country. Here’s a short list of some of the most prominent safety marks, as well as the country they are associated with:
- Verband der Elektrotechnik, Elektronik und Informationstechnik mark, or VDE e.V. (Germany)
- UL Certification Mark (USA)
- The Canadian Standards Association mark, or CSA (Canada)
- The British Standards Institution mark, or BSI (UK)
- The China Compulsory Certificate mark, or CCC (China)
- The CE mark (European Economic Area)
Interestingly, some countries don’t require pre-shipment inspections of imported products. However, just to be on the safe side, always check the local trading law before you decide on where you want to ship your products.
Common PSI Problems You Should Look Out For
- Corruption: some inspectors can be bought off with things like travel, accommodation, entertainment, or other means, meaning they might demand something in return if you want to pass the inspection
- Conflict of interest: don’t get your freight forwarder to inspect your shipments. Instead, get a third-party inspector to do the job
- Paying upfront: never, under any circumstances, pay the supplier in full before the inspection — the common practice is to pay 30% upfront, and the remaining 70% after the PSI
- Poor planning: make sure that you have a proper inspection plan that you can provide your inspector before the PSI
- Suspicious suppliers: in order to avoid losing money to a fake supplier, conduct a factory audit in advance
Pre-Shipment Inspections with Jonble
Both as a manufacturer and as a retailer, you will need to invest in proper pre-shipment inspections, especially if you’re dealing with a supplier from China. Every day, Chinese manufacturing grows, and with that growth, there are lots of “suppliers” out there who can rob you blind. More importantly, lots of third-party inspection companies can be just as corrupt.
For that reason, you’ll need a reputable third-party PSI company you can trust. Here at Jonble, we strive to provide you with the best product inspection services that cover everything from safety tests to compliance checks. If you’re interested in our services, feel free to contact us today.