Our China lawyers have assisted hundreds of Western companies with the legal side of having product manufactured in China. That experience has enabled us to see what works and what doesn’t for China manufacturing. If you want to greatly increase your odds of getting good quality manufactured product from China, you should do the following five things.

The basics for getting good quality from China.
The basics for getting good quality from China.
  • Use a Good Company.  Sounds rather basic, but we constantly see this rule violated. If you do nothing else that we suggest in this post, do this one thing as it matters as much as all the other things put together. For how to learn more about “your” China company, check out Basic China Due Diligence. Is This Chinese Company Legitimate?
  • Use a Good OEM Agreement. Good contracts ensure that your Chinese company knows what is required of it and what will happen if it fails to provide it.
  • Use Detailed Documents. Chinese factories tend to do exactly what you tell them to do. This means that what you tell them to do needs to be clearly conveyed and that means your instructions and specifications should be detailed and in Chinese. Be specific.
  • Visit the Factory. Either your own people or a third party QC company should pay regular visits to your factory. Doing this allows you to make sure it understands what you wand and lets them know that you are serious about making sure you get it.
  • Inspect. Perform regular product inspections appropriate to the product you are having made.

Do the above and your odds of getting good product go way up. Don’t do the above and they go way down.

  • Ward Chartier

    Early in my career I was one of quite a few manufacturing engineers supporting a very successful high tech product. One of my responsibilities was attending to supplier quality issues for a family of about a dozen precision components all made by the same US supplier. I spent about 80% of my time dealing with quality issues from that one supplier. Curious, I inquired about the cost of similar parts from typical suppliers. My supplier was charging about half what its competitors charged.

    Given the volume of parts consumed on my project, the difference in annual cost between the low quality supplier and typical suppliers covered the cost of my salary and benefits several times over. In the grand scheme of things, it was more economical to buy cheap and pay my salary than it was to buy from typical suppliers. This experience was an exception to the very good general rule that buying cheap is more expensive in the long run.

    While it was sometimes depressing to deal with a steady stream of bad parts, I learned a great deal about those parts, what was needed to build them correctly, and even how to repair and tune them. The education from that experience served me well many times in later years.

  • John Niggl

    Good points here. I especially agree with using a good OEM agreement and providing the supplier with detailed documents. It’s important to note that a lot of buyers overseas may have trouble getting their supplier to honor an agreement. But an OEM agreement or vendor guide that is detailed helps to convey expectations, which is one of the most effective ways to avoid trouble down the road.

    When it comes to providing other detailed documents, these include up-to-date specifications, such as CAD drawings or product-related artwork, and if possible, a detailed checklist that shows tests that need to be carried out, known quality defects and other aspects that help the factory determine and meet standards. Knowing the desired quality for a product may seem like common sense, but plenty of buyers are willing to accept lower quality in exchange for lower costs. That’s why it’s important to spell out expectations with suppliers and be as specific as possible.