A Quick Guide to Product Quality Inspections

A Quick Guide to Product Quality Inspections

The 3 main types of quality inspections are: Initial Product Inspection, During Production Inspection, and Pre-Shipment Inspection. You may hear lots of other names but they generally refer to these three that we have mentioned. They are conducted at different stages of the production process and involve different inspection activities.

It’s important to choose the right type of inspection for your product and get them done at the right time. If you leave it till too late, it may become too expensive, difficult, and time-consuming to fix problems before shipment. If you do your inspections too early, production may not have advanced enough for you to correctly identify problems.

If choosing the right inspection seems complicated, there’s a simple rule you can follow – the greater the complexity of your product, the earlier you should conduct your inspections. Hence for advanced products, like ones which have a lot of components, we recommend Initial Product Inspections and During Production Inspections as they allow you to check your components’ quality and resolve problems early on in the manufacturing process. For simple products, a Pre-Shipment Inspection or Final Random Inspection is all you need to quickly verify that you are getting what you paid for.

Ultimately, the inspection you choose will depend on your product.


1. Initial Product Inspection

WHEN: 0% to 30% of production (indicative)

WHAT IT IS: Checks the quality of your raw materials, components and sub- components before production begins. Inspectors may also check the production process and examine a few samples to ensure that your suppliers have understood and are complying with your requirements.

WHY: Prevention is better than cure, you want to get everything right from the start! Production can go wrong even before it swings fully into gear – your suppliers may try to cut corners by using substituting lower quality materials for your product without your knowledge, their sources could provide them  with defective components, and your supplier may misunderstand your requirements and use the wrong                               production techniques.

SUITED FOR:  Suited for more complex products, or products where the costs of stopping production and fixing defects  would be unacceptably high

WHAT WE DO: Provide inspectors and SQEs to inspect suppliers’ materials, components, production processes, and quality  systems. We will also inspect your suppliers’ sources depending on your product’s complexity and the problems we find.

OTHER NAMES:  Initial Production Check, Pre-Production Inspection

2. During Production Inspection

WHEN: 25% to 80% of production (indicative)

WHAT IT IS: Checks production processes, material use, and workflows as products are being made. Some semi-finished and finished goods will also be inspected.

WHY: Allows you to continuously monitor your supplier’s production and quickly implement corrective actions. Helps  you to avoid delays and the risk of quality problems developing in the later production stages. Gives you an idea of what to expect down the road.

SUITED FOR: Suits all products, but recommended especially for products made with multiple production processes, products which are in continuous production, and products where fixing the costs of defects would be too high.

WHAT WE DO:   Depends on your product complexity, your supplier’s familiarity with your product and customer track record. Our activities include:

– Incoming components/materials inspection
– Non-conforming product inspections
– Random inspections according to standards and client specifications
– Safety, tolerances and usability testing and inspection
– Final product and packaging inspection

OTHER NAMES: DUPRO, In-Line Inspection

3. Pre-Shipment Inspection (PSI)

WHEN:  80% to 100% of production (indicative)

WHAT IT IS: Used to check on product quality before delivery. Final verification that you are getting what you expect from your supplier before shipment.

WHY: You want to make sure you’re getting what you paid for. You want to know that the products which are being loaded onto the containers are what you ordered and that they work.

SUITED FOR: Simple products. We don’t recommend this inspection for advanced products as it’s very hard to find and fix quality problems at that stage.

WHAT WE DO:    Provide inspectors to verify lot, purchase order fulfilment and product quality and provide the appropriate documentation. Conduct randomised product inspections according to standards and client specifications.

OTHER NAMES:  Final Random Inspection (FRI)

4. Other Inspection Types

The other inspection types you may come across are:

  • First Article Inspection: This is a highly specialised type of inspection used for advanced technology products, in particular those in the aerospace, automotive and medical industries. It involves a full analysis of the first product produced to verify that the engineering designs and specifications have been met completely.
  • Source Inspection: A general term meaning inspections conducted at a supplier’s premises. However it does not specify the production stage for conducting the inspections.
  • Random Inspection: The act of selecting materials, components, sub-components, semi-finished or completed products for inspection without a pre-conceived plan. In manufacturing, this is done according to industry standards, sampling plans, and client requirements. It should be noted that all inspections are conducted at random. Sometimes this term is used independently but does not specify the production stage for conducting the inspections.
  • Container Loading Inspection (Container Loading Supervision): Ensures that goods are properly loaded onto containers. Not that commonly used, It typically applies to products with very specific loading and handling requirements.

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