Just as with any group of humans, there is always a difference of opinion at some point. And when it comes to enterprises and inspections, it's no different: the factory claims one thing, and the auditor states another.
The question is, how do you know whose opinion to take on board and whose viewpoint to put aside? Or is compromise a third option?
So, what are some of the more common opined differences between the factory and the inspector?
Different Quality Standards
At times, the factory may posit that the materials used in the manufacturing of the product naturally produce the effect that the inspector cited as a defect. This information depends on what type of product is being produced. For example, wood grain naturally exhibits different attributes. And depending on how crockery is glazed, there may be variants in the design or coloring of the finished product. However, stainless steel cutlery should not have any sharp edges or points (except knives and forks).
Levels of Expertise, Sample Matching, & Tools
Other differences of opinion cover expertise, the suitability of manufacturing and inspection environments, completeness of data provided, and reference and batch samples not matching.
Level of expertise can be subjective. For example, the manufacturer is an expert on how their products are made and the requirements of the destination market for their goods. But they do not have inspection expertise, which is where InSpec by BV comes in. Inspectors are experts in their field. For instance, inspectors know what and how to check a product for defects and the result that will allow you to release the shipment or make an informed decision regarding product disposition. While these types of expertise are complementary, at times the factory may refuse to listen to the inspector because the factory may have more experience in how to pass inspection and ship the goods. Or, the inspector may not listen to the factory because there is a major defect in the product (which the factory considers minor).
When it comes to inspection environments, not all environs can be used. For instance, if it's too dark, then inspection is not possible, especially if it involves outdoor work.
Another point of contention is the absence of, or the lack of provision of, appropriate tools for the inspector to conduct on-site testing. The factory claims that they already have a test report. Therefore, on-site testing is unnecessary. The inspector counters that they cannot complete the inspection if they do not have the tools. Thus the end result of the inspection is "Pending". This result does not benefit you. It means that another inspection needs to be arranged, and the tools must be present. Or, you may decide to waive the on-site testing and release the shipment.
So, when the factory and inspector disagree, and all reasonable resolutions have been exhausted, who is responsible for making the ultimate decision? This is the client's responsibility. In other words, you need to decide how you want to handle with the issues presented. Should you side with the inspector, or the factory? Or is there a third option? The third option is to understand the details before you make a decision.
Seeking More Information
So, to facilitate decision-making, it would be advisable to ask for more information from the factory and inspector regarding the situation. You may also need to consult with your team(s). You could ask them for opinions, or for information that show the exact specifications ordered. As for questions to ask the factory and inspector, they might include the following:
- Can you produce the certification for that?
- Do you have tangible evidence to support your statement(s)?
- Are the minimum requirements met? If not, why not and how long will it take to meet the minimum requirements?
- What is the actual "fault" in question?
- How many units of the produced selected sampling batch have this "fault"?
- How much time is required to correct the defect?
Remember to adapt these questions to suit your circumstances.
After evaluating the responses to the questions asked, you should compare the information with your product plan and objectives. For example, you need to ship the produced goods on the 28th of the month, but the cited defect requires the factory to produce a second batch that is flawless. To do so, you may not be able to meet the deadline. Thus, as a compromise, you may decide to ship the current batch minus the defective units. On the other hand, the cited defect has only been detected once or twice in a sample selection of 200 pieces. This may lead to the decision to release the entire batch of produced goods for shipment.
Whatever the difference of opinion is between the factory and the inspector, though, both parties require a neutral solution. In general, one or both parties would contact you through the proper channels, and provide you with a detailed account of the issue(s). Afterwards, both parties would then await then your instructions. Depending on your analysis, you might re-schedule the inspection date, or halt production. On the other hand, you may decide that the cited defect is acceptable, thus leading to releasing the produced goods for shipment.
Overall, it's best to always obtain as much information as practicably possible before making an informed decision.