You may think that factory audits are only meant for large-scale operations. That’s not the case! In fact, it could be even more important to conduct quality checks on your own factory site because it could be easy to overlook smaller problems that can result in big losses down the road. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 7 powerful quality factory audit tips you can easily perform on your own, even without extensive knowledge of quality assurance and manufacturing processes.
1) Site Walkthrough
The easiest way to identify and resolve problems is to take a proactive approach and visit your factory during production. Many suppliers will walk you through their entire process, or let you sit in on a shift and ask questions. However, there are other aspects of production that can be overlooked by factory tours—take it upon yourself to get involved and spot issues before they become problematic. If you’re so inclined, get up early one morning and go for a shifting shadow at your supplier—you’ll likely learn more than all of your previous site visits combined.
2) Identify Problem Areas
In order to spot potential problems in your factory, you need to know what to look for. Inspecting a factory is a bit like strolling through a museum—there are plenty of things that look pretty from afar, but you’ll only appreciate them when you get up close and personal. So take a stroll through your manufacturing facility and watch carefully for these problem areas: Does it smell? How about heat? Are there water leaks or sharp tools lying around? Are workers wearing all their safety gear or is anyone operating dangerous machinery without supervision? If so, don’t write these things off as too minor to address. These might be just what you need to start improving quality!
3) Ask Questions Directly From Employees
One of the most effective ways to conduct a quality audit is simply to ask employees questions directly and then listen to what they have to say. Pay attention to what your employees say, but also watch their facial expressions and actions. If an employee’s face goes blank when you ask a question about a process or procedure that you know has changed recently, that could be a sign of a problem. While there are no guarantees here – any of us can hide our true feelings from time to time – actively listening for inconsistencies will help you pinpoint issues before they create problems for your company. In addition, asking questions directly from employees gets them more involved in helping you improve factory operations. Everyone likes feeling like they’re part of something important!
4) Check for Factory Safety Precautions
No matter how well you’ve trained your staff, it’s likely that they don’t have your factory eyes. This means they could easily miss safety issues that are immediately apparent to you. For example, if you make a living walking around factories all day, you may immediately notice bad paint or peeling wall coverings—which is why it’s critical to make regular factory audit standard part of your process. Bring in outsiders with fresh eyes who can quickly check for common mistakes, safety hazards, and other problems that could eventually wreak havoc on your bottom line. It might seem like an expensive exercise at first glance—but investing in outside audits will ultimately save money by preventing accidents down the road.
5) Ask About Storage Conditions & Expiry Dates
In addition to inspecting your incoming products, you should also ask about how those products are stored. In fact, if you have any questions about product storage or other factors that may affect your merchandise’s quality, it’s a good idea to have these questions ready so you can ask as soon as you arrive at a supplier’s facility. This way, there won’t be a delay in performing an Pre-shipment inspection and being able to point out potential problems with their storage methods. If you find that a supplier is storing or shipping their products under less than ideal conditions, have them correct it before accepting further shipments.
6) Check Adherence to Specifications
Don’t walk around a factory with a clipboard, ticking off every nut and bolt you see. Instead, perform a QA audit by checking whether or not your specifications are being met at each stage of production. Oftentimes it only takes one small thing to ruin an entire batch of items being produced. If you see a problem early enough, you can stop it before it costs your company any money. For example, if you notice that a piece of equipment is malfunctioning in its assembly process or that your employees aren’t wearing their required safety gear during certain operations, take action immediately so that damage isn’t done to either your product or people. Proactively check for quality issues to ensure they never occur in the first place!
7) Ask About Delivery Timelines
Ask questions about when deliveries are expected and how products will be shipped. You should also ask for a copy of their return policy, in case you find your items defective and need to send them back. Additionally, make sure to ask where they’re located in order to confirm delivery timelines if necessary. Finally, see if you can get references from any previous customers; anyone selling secondhand goods should have nothing to hide! If something looks suspicious or doesn’t add up, move on and try your luck with another vendor.