Whenever you plan to source any product from certain foreign sources, then it is important that a supplier must be producing quality products and have necessary quality system in place. However, that does not mean that you should leave the quality aspect totally on your suppliers.
As an importer, you must also have a certain system by which you can also evaluate the quality of products at your end to verify whether the product is suitable for your needs or not.
There can be many different sources of raw materials that your foreign supplier must be using and as an importer, you may not even be aware of that. Due to raw materials obtained from different sources by your supplier, there can be variations in the quality parameters of the product.
Therefore, as an importer, you must have an IQC (Incoming Quality Control) system in your company too. By doing a regular IQC inspection, your own product quality can have a consistent quality.
What is IQC?
IQC is nothing but monitoring the quality of the entire raw materials or any other components that you are using in your product. Before you start using them in your manufacturing process, you must do this IQC inspection.
If in your manufacturing process, you are sourcing products from any other third-party manufacturer, then such regular IQC will be very critical to ensure maintaining consistent quality in your product in the longer run.
This becomes even more important if you are buying any products/components from certain foreign countries, where you have no idea from where your supplier is using raw material.
Why is IQC so important?
As we mentioned before, every foreign or even domestic product manufacturer cannot continue the production of their product on a large scale depending on a single source of raw materials. Therefore, they will always have multiple sources for raw materials.
However, certain different raw materials used by your supplier may not meet your quality requirements at times. Often as an importer, you may face this problem especially if you have negotiated with the supplier for a very low price.
In such a situation, your supplier will be forced to use a cheaper quality of raw material so that your supplier can maintain the price that you have demanded and at the same time maintain his own profit margin.
Not only that, but even many of your long-time suppliers can also adopt the same tactics to increase their profit margin and you may not even know about it. Only when you face any customer rejection of your product, then you will open your eye and may or may not know what exactly went wrong.
It is a very common practice where any supplier will continue to substitute different components and parts in their product, particularly in electronic products. As a result, often there can be quality variation in their products too.
Therefore, unless you have an IQC inspection system in place in your company, before you come to know about the quality variation in your product, your customer will find it out through their IQC system.
Therefore, unless you also have a regular IQC inspection of every product that you use as your raw material, your own product quality may always go totally haywire and your reputation on the market may get affected.
Therefore, it is very essential to have a suitable IQC system in place as only this can prevent to get such surprises and get a bad reputation on the market.
How can you implement the IQC procedure?
While developing your IQC procedure, you must consider the various reasons that can affect the quality of your incoming products or components.
The quality of your sourced products may vary due to many reasons besides different raw materials used by your supplier. The way it has been shipped can also cause a certain variation too.
So, your IQC inspection must have the following procedure in place:
Your IQC starts with visually inspecting the packages, whether there is any transportation damage is noticed. Besides that, there can also be damage due to environment too.
If visual damage is observed, then you need to report that to your supplier immediately for their replacement.
Maintain photographs of any visual damage
It is very important that there should not be any conflict with the supplier when you find any rejection. Therefore, if you observe any visual damage in the product then take their clear photograph as proof.
Your supplier can trust your report if you attach any valid proof of visual damage.
Check the documentation
Check all the necessary documentation that your supplier has sent you for the product. Ensure that it matches with the product description that was agreed between you and the supplier.
In some of the products, certain part numbers are also mentioned by the supplier and check whether it is the same as you ordered.
Do a sampling test
The sampling test is the trickiest part of your IQC where you must have a procedure available on how to take the sample. If there are several packages then you may choose a sample randomly from each package and do detailed testing.
Prepare a quality report
It is also important to prepare a detailed report of the test that you have conducted. Your supplier can trust your report if it mentions every observation accurately so that they can verify from their end too.
It is also important to mention under what environmental conditions you have checked the entire product while testing them.
Hire a sourcing company
If you are importing any of your products from a certain foreign company, then it is a very good idea to partner with a certain trustworthy sourcing company in that country, that can guide you to the right quality sources to obtain your required parts and components.
If you find a lot of rejection in your incoming products and components then your sourcing agent can help you to find an alternate source immediately.