Any importer, whether novice or experienced gets overwhelmed with excitement, anticipation, and anxiety when a shipping date approaches. There is nothing that can break your heart at this time than discovering that your goods have unexpected quality defects (About Order Defect Rate).
Sometimes the damage maybe is severe to the extent that the goods are un-sellable and you resolve to destroy the entire batch. There are chances that you might consider product rework before taking any other action.
The decision on whether or not to ask your supplier to rework the damaged goods is not as easy as it sounds. Ask yourself the following vital questions before considering product rework.
1. How much will the product rework cost?
Before asking your supplier for a rework, consider cost implications. As an importer, it is important that you recognize the cost the factory will incur in reworking on the products.
When it is common for many importers to blame their suppliers for shoddy workmanship, it is also important that you consider the cost that you will incur before asking the importer to rework on defective goods. The cost incurred comes regarding;
a. Time spent reworking defective goods
Assume you had ordered 2,500 promotional t-shirts but at the inspection, it reveals a common defect in all garments, a puckering affecting the neckline. This is a complex defect and asking the supplier to rework it means they will have to remove the stitching and re-sewing the neckline seam. Doing this to the entire batch will cost the factory a lot of time and especially because;
- The order is relatively small
- The product promotional hence low quality.
If, however, your t-shirts had a simpler issue such as untrimmed threads, the problem would be easy and quick for the factory workers to fix. The factory will allocate a fewer number of workers since this requires less time to rework. This rework will probably not require rush and hence chances that of more quality issues after the rework is minimal.
b. Reworking on defective goods can be expensive
If the value of your goods is relatively low, rework can prove to be expensive. For instance, consider defects in injection moulded products. A close look at such products will reveal a seam remaining in the place where the two pieces of mould met during the process. Most modelled parts are commonly affected by this flash problem which forms at the seam of the product appearing like excess material.
When asked to rework on the product to remove the flash, the manufacturer simply trims the flash from the finished product instead of replacing the faulty mould which can cost the factory a fortune. This method is corrective rather than preventive and in the long run, it will cost the company a lot of time to trim the flash and especially if done manually.
It is, therefore important that you consider the cost to the company before asking for a product rework. Weigh all available options for rectifying a product defect and you will find that some are more reasonable than others.
2. Will rework affect the shipping deadlines?
It is possible to find yourself in a position where you are trying to balance between rectifying defects found during product inspection and the ex-factory date. In such cases, your customer is expecting a certain quality product on a specific date. In such circumstances, you might consider skipping rework to meet the agreed shipping deadline (Consider: 3 Ways Experienced Importers Avoid Production Delays). The following factors might contribute to delayed deadlines;
Working with sub-suppliers
If your supplier used sub-suppliers to manufacture different parts of your product, then it might be tricky to have your goods re-worked while at the same time respecting the deadline. This is especially because the supplier might not be in a position to fix parts sourced from a sub-supplier.
For instance, assume that you are importing a watch but realize that there’s a problem with the wristband. If the wristband is produced by a different factory from the one that deals with assembling watch parts and packaging, it will require your supplier to coordinate with the sub-supplier to rework on the wristband. This will take time which will consequently result in delays in shipping.
Holiday related delays
In most cases, factories will close during public holidays and can even be understaffed a week before such holidays. For instance, if you are working with a supplier in China and Vietnam, you should plan well to avoid your order shipping falling within the Lunar New Year period as this can cause delays even if you do not require any reworks.
In such a case, you should plan your timing well and especially you are working on a tight shipping schedule. In any case, you can communicate with your supplier to confirm whether there are any possible causes of delays on your shipment. If you feel that rework might cause serious delays, you should consider the option of meeting deadlines than fixing minor problems that your clients might not even complain about.
3. Will product rework lead to serious quality defects?
Many importers overlook the fact that a product rework might lead to a more serious defect in the quality of the product. Before you ask your supplier for a product rework, you should consider the possibility of negative effects that the rework might pose on the product. In most cases, product defects occur as a result of handling and by asking for a rework, it means more handling which is likely to cause more damage.
Defects as a result of product handling
Back to injection moulded goods example. Assume you have placed an order of 10,000 ceramic kitchen knives fully packaged. However, the inspection just discovered flash defect on the rubber handle of 10 percent of the knives. After evaluating, you are sure that reworking on the knives won’t cause shipping delays since you have enough lead time. You are also sure that manually trimming the flash won’t take much time or cost the factory a lot of money.
Even after all these factors are considered and seem to be working well, the added handling is likely to pose a problem should you consider reworking on the defective batch. Since the knives are packaged in plastic blister packs, the workers will need to first unpackage the knives which might be an aggressive process. They will also need to use a blade on the product to remove excess material from the handle. Both processes expose the product to more damages such as scratches, dirt, chips, and any other defect that might occur from rework.
Therefore, before asking for a product rework, weigh the benefits of a rework versus that of potential new defects that may arise from reworking. This isn’t an easy decision to make but from experience with a particular product and supplier, you will have an idea of the risks involved in reworking.
Many importers opt-in requesting for a product rework as a way of handling problems with product quality, however, this is not always the best solution. Rework can be expensive and especially if you consider delays, the cost to the factory, and the possibility of causing more quality issues. Sometimes defects in a product are a symptom of a greater underlying problem and may suggest a lack of attention to detail in product manufacturing or even a problem with the machinery used in production.
Before rushing in requesting for a product rework, consider addressing the issue with the factory. Doing this can help you come up with a better solution on how the problem can be fixed or prevented in future. Pointing out the problem will also be helpful to the factory as it can help them improve on their overall quality of operation. Arrange a third-party QC company to check if the rework fixed or proceed before shipping.
March 30, 2020
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