East West Manufacturing Blog

6 Myths About Quality Control in Chinese Factories

Written by Mary-Kerstin Hassiotis | February 11, 2016

You've heard it all before: nothing but junk is made in China. While many low-cost and low-performing children's toys and other trinkets are indeed manufactured in China, many myths and misconceptions abound when it comes to quality control in Chinese factories. We're here to set the record straight. Good quality products can be and currently are made in China daily. 

1 |  Chinese factories easily understand the buyers' requirements

A common pitfall in novice companies' first manufacturing efforts is making assumptions and not prioritizing communication with their supplier. It's dire that you provide product specifications early on (before an order is placed). Include all the details, such as material, approved components, dimensions, color, finish, logo artwork, etc. The more information you provide, the better.

While it may seem like common sense for the factory to ask for clarification if something is unclear, this isn't always the case. If you fail to specify the quality of material you expect, the supplier will most likely use the lowest cost (which may also mean lowest quality) material to ensure it comes out profitable. For this reason, you should go into painful detail on your drawings and be sure to specify which standards must be met so these discussions can take place before production ever begins.

2 |  Chinese factories easily understand a product's function

Assuming a factory knows what your product is and does is a grave mistake, even if the product is an everyday commodity in your eyes. Providing an explanation not only of the product itself, but also of its function and application, is essential. If your immediate thought is concern over IP protection, there are ways around this. For instance, you can explain the functionality of each component but outsource final assembly to another supplier and final packaging to a third party. 

Even if you provide an excellent explanation of your product and its use, sometimes things are simply lost in translation, either due to a pure language barrier or because technical jargon is mistranslated or misunderstood. This is when working with a domestically-based contract manufacturer really pays off. With skilled engineering teams in the west and the east, translation issues are not a factor.

3 |  Poor quality is the factories' responsibility

This is what gave "Made in China" a bad reputation in the first place. Poor quality is often not a result of a factory's inability to produce good products, but rather a result of of executing a poor design. Most Chinese factories aim to manufacture the design you bring them. If you ask for sub-par materials, you'll get sub-par materials. It's as simple as that.

Should a buyer fail to work with product design engineers, they may end up with a low quality, faulty product because they failed to properly design and test the idea. Although this is no fault of the factory, they are often blamed. This is usually a result of the buyer prioritizing low cost over good quality. It's possible to find a happy medium and negotiate a lower cost through an expansive supplier network without compromising the quality that will meet your expectations, as well as regulatory standards.

Read More: 3 Quick Ways to Fail Your Made-in-China, in a Hurry!

4 |  Chinese factories aren't capable of making high-quality products

We would absolutely argue this claim, and our customers would too. There are plenty of perfectly capable and skilled factories in China that will meet high-quality product specifications, and if the product weren't stamped "Made in China," nobody would ever suspect a thing. China-made goods have gotten such a bad rap over the years that, for some consumers, it's difficult to move past the negatives and accept the fact that quality goods can come out of China (iPhone users, you are reading this blog post on a China-made product whether you realized it or not). The key is to outline your specifications and find a supplier who can meet them consistently. Don't waste time concerning yourself with the others.

Read More: Fighting the Stigma of "Made in China"

5 |  Quality inspectors cut corners 

This may be the case if you put 100 percent control in the supplier's hands and don't hire a third-party inspection company or send an internal QC inspector to the site to conduct their own review on your behalf. This is another example of the benefits of working with a contract manufacturer who has hands on deck to guarantee your standards are met. 

6 |  Chinese factories will ship products even if they fail inspection 

Negative. Contrary to popular belief, the buyer has total control here. After goods are inspected against a clearly detailed set of requirements, the inspection details and a pass/fail score must be sent to the buyer for review and final approval. This prevents the supplier from hastily shipping product without the buyer learning of any quality issues that may exist. The buyer can then demand product be reworked or can conditionally approve an order for shipping if the quality issues are minimal or non-critical to product performance. 

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