4.5 – Quality Control Inspection Report

Quality Control Inspection Report

To begin this module, download the “Product Quality Inspection Report”:

If you discover quality issues with goods that have already been delivered to your destination country you have slim to none chance of getting your money back. At best you may be offered a discount on a future order with a supplier that you never wish to use again.

You may try and sell your products to a distributor who has low standards or take a trip to the local dump.

If you have buyers already arranged then you may lose further funds and have a lot of apologising to do.


A Quality Control inspection is your last defense. It may be the case that the size of your order does not justify having an inspection done in advance of shipping. You should then look to mitigate your risk in other ways – for example, building longstanding relationships with trustworthy and reliable manufacturers, or by ensuring that you have emergency stock in your warehouse in case there are major defects in a subsequent shipment.

At what stage should you check production quality?

It depends on the major risks you identify:

  • If the main risk is that your supplier purchases substandard materials (or components), it is wise to check them as soon as they are delivered (and before production starts).
  • If you know that a particular process step is the most likely cause of failure, you should check the way that step is conducted.
  • Checking the initial batch of finished product is an ideal way to catch problems and to ensure corrective actions are taken.
  • If you feel relatively confident about the factory’s quality standard, but you still want an inspection of the quantity, product quality and functionality, and packing, a final random inspection (a few days before shipment) is the right choice. We do not advise waiting until the end of production if you are dealing with an untested or unstable supplier. Testing costs money but is often essential.

Common Inspection Types

1. The final random inspection, because it is the only time when samples can be picked at random and when most of the bulk is packed.

2. The inspection of the first finished products, to catch issues as early as possible.

When will the finished products appear?

  • Generally the production line will put the complete order into stages. This could be any algorithm of x amount of products through y amount of stages. The supplier may keep all of the products unfinished for many initial weeks and then move rapidly in the final days. Be aware that it is common for the initial batch to not be complete for many weeks, then once it has completed it’s final process the other batches follow through to completion a few days later.
  • If possible request from your supplier the earliest date that the initial batch will be complete. Depending on your manufacturing process you may be limited to a final inspection only.

Checking production status

If production is under way you might want to ask these questions to give you an overall idea of what is happening:

  • How many lines are working on these products?
  • When were the last materials / components delivered?
  • Has bulk production started? When?
  • When did/will bulk production start to run at full speed?
  • How many pieces are processed every day?
  • When does the factory estimate that 50 percent of the quantity will be completed?
  • When does the factory estimate that 100 percent of the quantity will be fully packed?
  • When does the factory estimate that the order will be shipped out?

Advanced Stage Production

If you come for a final inspection, then you need to be looking for approximately 80% of the products fully packed. It is in your interest to have the ability to pick and choose your samples from the entire production output. Any less than 80% should ring alarm bells if you have come for a final inspection.

Important note: if some products are packed and others are waiting to be packed, make sure to pick both unpacked and packed samples – ideally in the same proportions as the total batch.

Checking Product and Packing Specifications

  1. Preparing the checklist

Now is the time to make use of the Product Specification Document that you should have hopefully prepared and been continually updating even before production began.

Before inspection, you simply need to paste the checkpoints and requirements (from the specification sheet) into the columns on the left of the “Product Quality Inspection Report Template“. During the inspection you can enter the findings directly on the printed out template once you have completed all of the other fields that have been highlighted in yellow/red.

This information coming from the product specification sheet…

…is pasted this way in the product inspection report:

Use the Template as a Guide

  • We have provided some example figures in the template. For example sampling amounts of 5 pieces. Feel free to adjust this number, either increase or decrease the sample size. This will come down to your own judgement. For essential checkpoints do more checks.
  • This template is applicable for checking one type of product. If there are several items then make adjustments to this template or use multiple templates as required.

Checking Procedure “Rule’s of Thumb”

  • Selected cartons for checking should be at least the square root of the total number of cartons in the order. For example: at least 7 cartons if there is a total of 49 cartons.
  • The quality inspector should select randomly but be sure to delve deep and choose export cartons from all areas of the stockpile. For example: top, bottom, sides, center.
  • Open cartons and again make random selections from different areas within those also.

Checking visual defects

After complete checking a few cartons in detail, you should also check more visually in less detail.

Look for aesthetic defects (stains, scratches, poor alignment).

Run quick simple tests also. For example with electrical appliances you could perhaps switch them on and off after plugging them and test the buttons. If material garments maybe stretch and squeeze the fabric.

Select the most important tests on as many of the batch seems necessary. Again this is dependent on the quantity and type of product.

Following industry-standard statistical rules

It is advisable to draw a representative sample by following industry-standard statistical rules (MIL-STD 105E or commercial equivalents ANSI/ASQC Z1.4, ISO2859).

These rules will give you two pieces of information:

  1. How many samples you should pick up from cartons and check visually.
  2. What the limits in the number of defects (beyond which the inspection is failed) are.

How many samples to check this way?

For simplicity, let us say you follow the same settings as 90 percent of importers of consumer goods:

  • Inspection level II in normal severity
  • AQL limits of 0 for critical defects, 2.5% for major defects, and 4.0% for minor defects.

There are two statistical charts that you need to be familiar with:

  1. First table: Sample size code letters

Let us assume that the order quantity is comprised between 3,201 pieces and 10,000 pieces. The code letter is “L”.

       2.   Second table: Single sampling plans for level II inspection (normal severity)

Your code letter is “L”, so you will have to draw 200 pieces randomly from the total lot size.

And here are the limits — the products are accepted if NOT A SINGLE critical defect AND NO MORE than 10 major defects AND NO MORE than 14 minor defects are found.

Checking the loading of a container

You will need to define your requirements before conducting the inspection. Here is some information you should try to specify:

The Products to Ship

  • Conformity to the buyer’s requirements and no container swapping
  • Total quantities

The Packing

  • Number of cartons to be loaded
  • Number of pieces per carton
  • Numbering of cartons
  • Pallets size, weight, and material, if applicable
  • Number of cartons per pallet, if applicable

Condition of the container(s)

  • Containers are in good condition, inside and outside. There should be no holes, strong smell or humidity
  • A seal is in place on each container, with a unique number

The loading process

  • No carton should fall on the ground or be damaged when the factory loads the cartons
  • If a loading plan was given to the manufacturer, is it respected?
  • If not, are the heaviest and strongest cartons loaded at the bottom?

See you in the next module.