Quality Products International

DUPRO – one more reason – it tells the factory you are serious about quality

by on Apr.19, 2014, under China QC Inspection Blog

There is an expression that “the standard you walk past, is the standard you set”.

That is to say, that if you see something but do nothing about it, you are “lowering the bar” to that level in terms of what you and those around you really expect as an acceptable standard.

A DUPRO (DUring PROduction Inspection) demonstrates to the factory that on THIS order what you expect the quality to be. It also provides an opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings that may exist about quality. Finally is the only way in most cases to provide the opportunity to have the time to take any corrective action without delaying the shipment or blowing out costs.

Some people naively think that the discussion in the factory showroom, or trade fair, about quality expectations has some or any influence.

The reality is that those initial discussions have NO INFLUENCE over and provide NO INFORMATION about the real quality expectations that you can have for your order.

Anyone who has done more than one deal in Asia can rattle off any number of phrases and expressions they have heard to “downplay” the severity of quality problems some time AFTER the order is placed and deposit is paid.

Typically they will come up at a DUPRO, a Final Inspection / Pre Shipment Inspection (PSI)….or if you have not done any QC, sometime after your client has rejected the product!

They normally sound something like….

– Frankly speaking we have not had other clients complain about this

– This is the latest fashion

– This is what the best clients are demanding nowdays

– We think this looks better

– We know you clients will like it this way

– We ship to some very fussy clients in Europe (…or USA, or Australia, or…wherever) that are happy with this standard

The first thing you can do to set you on the path to a good quality outcome is to have a tight product specification. Most factories will welcome it, and the smarter factories will expect that a rigorous specification would follow up with stringent quality control.

The other “best thing” that any purchaser should do is book at least one, preferably two DUPROs as well as a PSI. The number of inspections will obviously be a factor of how well you know the factory and how much your shipment is worth….or more importantly, what will the cost be to your business if it goes wrong!

There is so much that can be said about why DUPRO’s are so valuable here are just a few points.

Key Point DUPRO

A Key Point DUPRO is one where a key point in the production cycle is identified and targeted for an inspection.

Typically it should be late enough in the cycle that the quality trajectory can be established, but not so late that corrective action can be difficult.

A great example is in inflatable goods. Generally the raw material is cut and printed before welding.

The ideal key point in production for a DUPRO is the first day of printing. The quality of the raw material can be checked as well as the detail and quality of the printing.

If there is an error in the printing or raw material, it is too late to rectify once welding has commenced. Also the cost and lead time in procuring new raw material will blow out the time and expense on the order.

In many cases, particularly on larger orders, if there is a problem with the raw material much of it can be redirected to other orders or returned to the supplier with minimal cost. In some cases, there may be enough time to organize a new batch of raw material without effecting the final ship date too much.

DUPRO & partial IQC (Inward Quality Control)

All good factories would have a robust IQC system. For more complex electronic or mechanical products it can sometimes be hard to effectively QC internal components that are “locked away inside”, such as a special “chip”, crankshaft, or any other key component.

A well timed DUPRO inspection can QC some key components before assembly as well as report on progress and quality of production underway.

DUPRO vs. Visit

Having a buyer visiting the factory in person during production is fantastic, though very expensive and time consuming. In many cases buyers cover a whole range of products and cannot visit all, or have a level of expertise in all products. While most certainly have an excellent grasp of what is ok and what is not, often inspectors who have a level of expertise and experience in a specific product area can find faults and defects that may not be readily apparent.

It is also often easier to negotiate a way forward with a factory, when a 3rd party inspector has pointed out the problems as it adds a level of objectivity.

DUPRO & Sample Collection vs. Sample Sent

Almost all discussions about problems with QC will start along the lines of “this does not look as good as the sample we approved”.

Some factories will send deficient samples, some will pick out the product much better than the typical standard in a batch. Neither are good outcomes, with consistently high levels of quality is what is typically expected.

Firstly it should be stressed that a Key Point DUPRO will typically be much earlier in the production cycle than a final production sample.

The PSI is typically very late in the cycle. The standard timing for PSI is 100% of the goods complete and 80% packed. Often the collection of the goods from factory and shipping has all been scheduled, and the PSI will normally be a day or so before goods leave the factory.

A DUPRO and Sample Collection should be as soon as the first goods are finished, normally some time well before the PSI.

The QPILtd inspector can report on the overall quality and collect a sample that is a typical representation of the batch.

There will often be enough time for the client to receive the sample by air courier and have on hand before the PSI is conducted.

That can often afford a valuable opportunity to instruct some late rework, include a particular check in the PSI, etc, etc

If lab testing is required, QPILtd strongly recommends the sample/s to be tested are collected by an inspector to ensure the sample is true and fair representation of the batch.

DUPRO vs. FRI / PSI (Final Random Inspection/Pre Shipment Inspection)

A PSI is a check of last resort and more akin to insurance than prevention.

In its essence, it is designed to protect the buyer from sending the final payment on goods that are inferior.

It is like insurance and does very little by way of preventing defects, UNLESS the factory knows that they buyer is serious before hand.

There is often limited time and practical scope to rework from a poor PSI result, so then the buyer is faced with the unpleasant choice of cancelling the order, and typically loosing their deposit as well as sales opportunity, or shipping compromised goods. Possible with an adhesive label over a printing error or similar.

DUPRO says you are serious in time to make a difference

Again, ALL and ANY talk during initial meetings, trade fairs, etc is of NO VALUE at all in the scheme of things as far as quality of goods shipped.

There are countless jokes about how divergent “talk on a first date” is from the reality of life, and I would suggest that is the best analogy.

While the client often laments how the goods produced vary from the sample, the factories are always lamenting about how quality expectations of the client were higher than expected.

The detailed product specification is a great first step however at least one, or preferably two or more DUPROs is essential follow through, if the quality of goods shipped in the order is of value to you.

It send a clear message to the factory that you are serious about he quality, in time for them to do something about it.

It may well lead to more negotiation on price or shipping dates, but at least you know early enough to get a chance to mitigate some of the damage if any.

It sometimes leads to a situation where the factory and buyer agree to proceed with this shipment at the requisite quality and then either renegotiate or part company.

There may be many outcomes that are all less than ideal, however all are better than a poor outcome at PSI stage, and certainly better than having a client reject a shipment!

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