3 Keys to a successful Quality Factory Audit and Checklist

The internet, globalization, computerization and modern manufacturing have reshaped the way businesses buy in China. Nonetheless, these same businesses still face the same risks when importing from China. Risks of being lead, lied and fooled by Chinese wholesalers or so-called factories. This is why so many overseas buyers implement a Supplier Quality Assurance program (SQA). Amongst other tools, the SQAincludes what is called a Supplier Audit (see here to learn about our Factory Audit).

Today’s article is about a core element of the Supplier Audit, the Factory Quality Audit Checklist. It basically lays clearly the scope of the audit. It also lists the materials the Factory will have to provide. Finally, it details the checks to be implemented during the onsite audit in the Chinese factory.

Mapping out a comprehensive but concise Factory Quality Audit Checklist is key to the success of a Factory Audit in China.

1. Define the scopes of your own Quality Factory Audit Checklist

Building a comprehensive but concise factory audit checklist will ensure the success of the actual audit conducted in the factory in China. If you are unable to figure out how a quality factory audit should be prepared or conducted, feel free to contact us. Otherwise, please read on.

The most effecient quality factory audit checklist is built in blocks. Each block explores a specific scope.

  1. Types of Factory Audit Checklist scopes:

Find below a few scopes for your reference.

  • – SALES

Depending on the scopes of the audit at the chinese supplier, the type audit will be different. Below are the 3 most common factory audits conducted in China or around the globe :

  1. The best Quality Factory Audit Checklist sticks to your core needs

While some businesses may believe that putting up an audit checklist including all blocks listed above, the end result  the quality factory audit report may prove difficult to digest for some.

Based on my experience, the best way for Businesses to set up and conduct an efficient factory audit in China is to focus primarily on what they need their supplier to deliver. Not on the ideal supplier they seek.

For example, a retail brand from Europe sourcing medical disposables from China may :

– Focus primarily on Chinese factories holding valid CE certificates.

– Ensure that Good Manufacturing Practices are enforced at each stage of the production.

– Assess the ability and rate of success of the Chinese supplier to handle OEM packaging.

Each Quality Factory Audit Checklist should obviously include the Chinese supplier information, ability to manufacture the product and deliver on-time.

2. A good Audit checklist lists the materials the Factory to review

Often overseen by Foreign Buyers, checking documents is inherent to conducting Quality Factory Audits. As such, a serious audit checklist should include, or at least refer to, a listing of documents the factory in China will have to provide.

For each Quality Audit at a supplier premises in China, our inspectors check originals of documents and compare them with digital versions previously obtained. Over the years, it has proven a very good way of assessing if the Supplier’s familiarity, will to pass audits.

Also, it can provide guidance to the quality auditor when reviewing the documents. When a document features contradictory information, or inaccurate information, the quality auditor is bound to find out the truth while onsite.

Also, the quality factory audit report will eventually include photographs of original documents. These photographs are taken during the audit at the supplier in China. They are then processed and included in the report as proof.

The most common documents featured in Quality Audit checklists are :

– Registration Files

– Land ownership/Lease Contract

– Organizational Chart

– Workshop layout

– Equipment maintenance list

– Quality Manual

– Standard PIs, CIs and PLs

– Financial Statement (only for some Clients)

3. Tailor the detailed checks to be include in your audit checklist

The ability to conduct a successful and cost-efficient factory audit relies on the 2 main points explained so far and this last point. The most important of all is the detailed checks. Detailed checks can be customized, depending on : industry, available time onsite, and interests of the Buyer itself;

The detailed checks will populate each and every Scope (see PART I). That, is each of the detailed check will focus on a specific question within the scope.

For example :- scope : manufacturing / detailed check : daily output per workshop.

  • The auditor will record the time it takes to complete key production tasks.
  • He or she will estimate the overall output and compare against factory representative’s figures.

– scope : quality management / detailed check : is there a specific process to check the quality of welds, and records available.

  • The auditor will gather facts, may interview workers, to answer the above question as accurately as possible

He or she will then gather evidence that supports these facts.

4. Evaluating the Chinese factory Quality Management System

An effective audit checklist includes a segment that covers the supplier’s quality management system (QMS). Quality management can be a wide-ranging topic since it can be implemented on Manufacturing operations as well as Administrative operations. To give you a general idea. the quality audit checklist should generally include checks for:

  • Review of the Quality Manual
  • Assessment of the QMS operations in the workshop
  • Assessment of the QMS operations in the Design Department
  • Assessment of the QMS operations in the Purchasing Department
  • Assess how operates the Quality Department if any

A well-prepared Quality factory audit checklist coupled with involved Buyer’s team and Auditor is the best recipe for a successful and cost-effective factory audit. Following to the audit, the auditor handles a Factory Audit Report. This report contains supplier’s information as well as answers to questions about its manufacturing capacity, ability to minimize defects, or delays and contract terms.

Feel free to contact us for further advice of information about our Quality audit service here. We will gladly share additional knowledge and help you customize your own factory audit in China. Whether you are on a budget, have a tight timeframe, or need an in-depth audit, we always accommodate your needs.

SO 9001, created by the International Organization for Standardization, is a worldwideaccepted set of requirements for quality management systems.

A strong and robust quality management system lets the manufacturers detect and correct quality issues without demanding any prior inputs from buyers or third-party inspectors.

Administrative Manufacturing processes, accounting, tier-supplier evaluations, sales reports and quality management documents. the Depending on the Buyer’s product and manufacturing process, its willingness to exercise due diligence,

A transparent and consistent method of evaluating customer’s needs and supplied products is known as Supplier Quality Assurance. The entire process consists of a range of activities that includes the development of strategic vision, effective planning, risk assessment, evaluation &rating, and corrective& preventive action.

With the constantadvancement in technology, new materials, improved means of communication, etc., there is a persistentchange encountered which is graduallyturning the production process more complex. In many instances, a supply chain from raw material to end customer moves through multiple organizationswhich can be located in different geographic locations worldwide.

While supply chains may continue to expand and develop, the responsibility of a business to consistently supply quality products remains. In such types of businesses where every step in the production process is really delicate and important, a thorough and in-depth inspection is necessary to ensure the quality and all-around accuracy of manufactured goods.

The lengthy and complex production methods make the inspection process really difficult for quality inspectors. Thus, it becomes impossible for quality inspectors to avoidall the quality issues from the entire process. As a result, they might finish approving a batch with a severe quality issue that can even harm the business to a large extent.

To make things easier, investigate even little quality issues and smoothen the inspection process, a quality control checklist can be used. This could help the quality inspectors to prepare and clarify all the aspects of the process.

If you want to end up with a successful supplier audit,it is really important to prepare a safety audit checklist that is customized to your requirements and consists of key details of the production process in a concise format.

To get the internal audit checklist for manufacturing,which works practically for any company, a quality audit grading system can be used. This grading system must consist of some checkpoints and the checkpoints must consist of the following guidelines:-


What IS the role of quality grading system?

The performance of every checkpoint in a quality auditing grading system is determined on the basis of evaluation. The grading system ranges from 0-4, where 0 represents the least performance whereas 4 is the best performance of the inspected product.

For each checkpoint, the following guideline should be used;

0 – Major non-conformity – Lack of procedure or proof of big divergences in execution – a counteractive action will be designed for this checkpoint.

1 – Minor non-conformity – Incomplete procedure or proof of discrepancies in implementation – a corrective action is designed for this checkpoint.

2 – Acceptable – Procedures are available and implementation is acceptable, however opportunities for improvement exist – an opportunity for improvement can be designed for this checkpoint.

3 – Good – Procedure and implementation acceptable, no opportunity for improvement identified.

4 – Best Practice – The factory has been employing best designing trends and implementingthe best practice inthe industry.

A checklist gives a brief assessment of the supplier’s quality systems.

Dragging random samples for inspection

Pulling out random samples for inspection is theprimary step in the entire inspection process. It is really important to pull out samples randomly to achieve the fair outcomes that represent the quality of entire shipments. For this, the quality inspectors make use of acceptance sampling method. This helps them identify the sample size in relation to the total number of goods manufactured.

It is highly probable that without knowing the exact sample size the inspector might:

  • Inspect too many units,

This can result in increased production costs and production time.

  • Inspect too few units,

This limits transparency and other product related issues will go undetected.

An effective suppliers audit checklist can help the inspectors to calculate the accurate sample size as per the norms.

Inspecting the Product against Specification

The quality of any manufactured product is inspected against certain terms as per the manufacturing audit checklist. These specifications determine the range under which the product can be said to be quality assured. If the investigated value of the chosen parameter doesn’t lie in the pre-specified standard range then the product is said to be failed in the audit.

A quality control checklist helps the quality inspector to inspect every small aspect and get improved product quality. The various aspects that are used to measure the products wellness include:-

  • Item weight and dimensions
  • Material and construction
  • Item colour
  • Item marking and labelling

Verifying packaging requirements

With the help of an effective quality control checklist for manufacturing and packaging, an inspector is not only able to detect the manufacturing defects but also the packaging defect. A checklist helps to find out markings or labelling defects, incorrect or missing shipping marking or barcodes, incorrect packing method, incorrect spelling, carton issues,  incorrect wording on retail packaging.

A fault in the packaging seems to be a small issue, but in the long-run when it reaches into the customer’s hand, and the customer finds a fault then he /she might refuse to purchase and thus the product becomes unsellable.

Reporting Customized Quality defects

Every product is different from one another, thus one checklist can’t work for all kind of product types. There are many products have quality issues customized to them.

It becomes really difficult for a quality inspector to test every product in a different way; therefore it is highly probable that the inspector might miss some of the severe quality issues.

A product customized checklist helps to identify all the quality issues from every aspect of the product.

Quality Management System Organization

An effective audit checklist includes a segment that covers the supplier’s quality management system (QMS). Quality management can be a wide-ranging topic. But the quality audit checklist should generally include checks for:

  • Topmost management employees in charge of QMS development
  • ISO 9001 certification
  • QC teams free from production staff

ISO 9001, created by the International Organization for Standardization, is a worldwideaccepted set of requirements for quality management systems.

A strong and robust quality management system lets the manufacturers detect and correct quality issues without demanding any prior inputs from buyers or third-party inspectors.

With the help of a Quality Control checklist, inspectors are more likely to be completely alert of quality requirements and help them to conduct a successful inspection.

Experience the 100% reliable and affordable factory audit by the really eminent Sourcing and Purchasing Company JS Quality. For better assistance contact us freely.