Tag: defects

Avoiding Product Recalls

downloadOver the years, we’ve had our share of inquiries related to organizations seeking to resolve a recall situation.  While many of these calls are reactive, a proactive approach is recommended to avoid the cost and overall impact to stakeholders.

How can you avoid product recalls? 

Know Product Safety Requirements –  Avoiding recalls generally starts with product design and specification development. Due diligence is required to determine if any applicable testing is required depending on the market in which it will be sold. Contacting a testing lab for a general inquiry is worth the time and effort. Researching ANSI and ASTM standards is also advised.  A third party’s expertise can also be leveraged here and specifications development/testing can be outsourced.

Know Your Suppliers – Supplier selection is a critical component in the quality process. Verifying suppliers and performing an on-site evaluation adds an additional level of assurance. Considerations include:

  • Management
    • Is there a quality manual, and how are people trained?
  • Engineering
    • Are there control systems and a formal system of using updated drawings/specs?
  • Quality Control
    • Is there a quality department, and how much ultimate repsonsiblity do they have?
  • Incoming QC
    • Are raw materials inspected, and is inspection equipment calibrated?
  • Packaging
    • Are they packaged to prevent damaged and properly labeled?
  • Non-Conforming Materials
    • Is there a specific area for non-conforming materials and applicable training for handling/reporting?
  • Corrective Action
    • Is corrective action properly communicated, documented and follow-up on?
  • Manufacturing
    • Is there documentation, a maintenance program, etc.?

View an example Initial Supplier Evaluation report here to get a better idea of the basics when considering a potential partner.

Don’t Skip Inspections – Even the most highly rated suppliers have been known to release a shipment or two with quality issues that somehow went unseen. Some of these quality concerns can end up being safety issues that can easily result in recalls or other rework/warranty situations.  For an added level of assurance, incorporate pre-shipment inspections. These happen when the shipment is 100% produced and 80% packaged. So, you’re able to confirm visual/workmanship issues, functionality and packaging integrity issues.

View example QC inspection reports here to get a better idea of what’s included in the final evaluation of product.

For additional information regarding avoiding recalls and ensuring quality, contact us.

Recent recalls are listed on the CPSC site here.  “The CPSC fulfills its mission by banning dangerous consumer products, establishing safety requirements for other consumer products, issuing recalls of products already on the market, and researching potential hazards associated with consumer products.

A global site is also available here.  “The GlobalRecalls portal brings together information on product recalls being issued around the world, on a regular basis, together in one place – on an OECD platform.”

What types of defects occur most often during inspections?

Over the last three decades, we have inspected an innumerable amount of orders for clients looking to mitigate sourcing risk and uncertainty. As a result, one question we receive often regards identifying trends or commonalties among defects noted.

We asked two of our key team members in Ningbo, China what the most commonly noted issues during inspections include:

“Workmanship is the most common issue due to the variation.”  ~Cynthia Liu (Business Team Manager)

“Inconsistency in production.” ~Nick Chen (Technical Supervisor)

Although each product is unique, we are able to classify our observations by general industry. During inspections, defects are generally classified as major, minor or critical.  More on classifying defects here.

Common defects noted by industry includes:

Hardlines

  • Defects in appearance, such as dents, scratches, stains, etc.
  • Defects with the warranty or other product inserts missing or incorrect
  • Defects concerning missing parts or components
  • Defects concerning the electrical listing data label as missing or incorrect
  • Defects with polybags that are not marked with applicable child suffocation warnings
  • Defects concerning function where the product does not operate as specified
  • Defects concerning loose, broken or other poorly fitting components
  • Defects concerning safety, such as sharp edges, exposed wires, poorly packaged batteries, etc.

Softlines

  • Defects in appearance, such as marks, fraying fabric or unfinished edges, etc.
  • Defects with seams and stitching, including open seams, incorrect thread selection, skipped stitches, etc.
  • Defects concerning color, such as dye spots and color fastness
  • Defects concerning fabric, such as its material, fabric weight, cuts or tears, slubs or misweaves, etc.
  • Defects concerning sizing, labeling and packaging, such as labels missing or top/bottom sizes are mismatched
  • Defects with polybags that are not marked with applicable child suffocation warnings
  • Defects concerning care label information, content label information, hangtag descriptions, correctness of components or trims, zip teeth smoothness, etc.
  • Defects concerning measurement and fit
  • Defects concerning loose or broken snaps, zippers or other hardware
  • Defects concerning foul odors from dyes or other chemicals used in the process
  • Defects concerning safety, such as pins, needles and staples not being removed

Industrial

  • Defects in appearance, such as dents, scratches, rust, stains, etc.
  • Defects concerning missing parts or components
  • Defects with measurements and/or dimensions that are out of tolerance
  • Defects regarding labeling, such as non-compliance with regulatory requirements
  • Defects concerning function where the product does not operate per specification
  • Defects concerning loose, broken or other poorly fitting components
  • Defects concerning safety, such as sharp edges, exposed wires, etc.

Conducting QC inspections not only provides assurance that the order meets expectations, but it reduces the loss of resources required from quality issues that are discovered much later. Reduce incidences of delayed shipments, warranty and rework costs, and a negatively affected consumer perception.

We recently added this content to our website, in addition to an overview of the solutions we offer within each industry.

Textile & Garment Quality: Inspecting a T-Shirt

We are preparing for TexWorld next week in NYC and thought it appropriate to revisit quality within the textile and garment industry.  A recent question we received related to what we would evaluate during a t-shirt inspection.  That’s a good question…

With order details and product specifications in hand, our experienced textile/garment quality engineers go on-site and first verify the order quantity available. We confirm the quantity packaged (and labeled) vs. not packaged. That matters because a pre-shipment inspection generally requires 80% of the order be packaged at the time of inspection.  An in-process inspection is scheduled around 30-50% complete.

If the verified quantity meets the client’s expectations, the inspector will select a random sample of items using ANSI Z1.4 as a standard.  With something like t-shirts, we determine how the client would like sampling in advance. Considerations include various sizes, colors and/or styles.  Many times, clients will combine theses variables and divide out the sample size proportionately. Sampling individually results in additional time on-site and for reporting, so supplier performance/history and cost are considerations when determining what the sample sizes should be.

With samples in hand, the inspector will spend some time verifying the packaging and labeling. This includes checking any barcodes, measuring and weighing the boxes and drop-testing for packaging integrity. 

The visual component of the inspection uses the product specifications or other details to compare the samples and generally confirm workmanship and/or other cosmetic defects. Defects are classified as major, minor or critical.

Common defects noted during textile and/or garment inspections include:

  • Defects in appearance, such as marks, fraying fabric or unfinished edges, etc.
  • Defects with seams and stitching, including open seams, incorrect thread selection, skipped stitches, etc.
  • Defects concerning color, such as dye spots and color fastness
  • Defects concerning fabric, such as its material, fabric weight, cuts or tears, slubs or misweaves, etc.
  • Defects concerning sizing, labeling and packaging, such as labels missing or top/bottom sizes are mismatched
  • Defects with polybags over 5″x7″ used that are not marked with applicable child suffocation warnings
  • Defects concerning care label information, content label information, hang tag descriptions, correctness of components or trims, zip teeth smoothness, etc.
  • Defects concerning measurement and fit
  • Defects concerning loose snaps
  • Defects concerning foul odors from dyes or other chemicals used in the process
  • Defects concerning safety, such as pins, needles and staples not being removed

The functional evaluation of textiles and garments usually includes measurements.  A reduced sample is often pulled for functional evaluation.  Measurements are confirmed and compared against the specifications. The tolerances are determined by the client and provided in advance.  Another component of the functional evaluation is often verification of the SPI, or stitches per inch.

Untitled

Pro QC’s textile and garment inspectors regularly perform the following evaluations on-site:

-Wash test in the factory to make sure the color fastness and shrinkage is acceptable

-Needle detector checking to make sure no metal is within the garment. Note that the factory must have a detector machine for this evaluation on-site.

-Broken stitch record to make sure the broken stitches are under control.

-Child safety using the button fastness test. The factory must have the equipment for this evaluation on-site.

-Nickel free and pH test if the chemical reagent is available .

In-house laboratory testing of textiles and garments includes lead and phthalates content evaluation and color fastness.

Applicable standards are used, such as those listed below:

  • ASTM 5430-07 (Standard Test Methods for
Visually Inspecting and Grading Fabrics)
  • These test methods describe a procedure to establish a numerical designation for grading of fabrics from a visual inspection.
  • ASTM D3990-2012 (Standard Terminology Relating to Fabric Defects)
  • This terminology covers defects in both woven and knit fabrics.
  • ASTM D3775 (Standard Test Method for
Warp End Count and Filling Pick Count of Woven Fabric)
  • ASTM D3136 – 04(2008)e1: Standard Terminology Relating to Care Labeling for Apparel, Textile, Home Furnishing, and Leather Products 

Let us know if you have questions about ensuring quality of your textile and/or garment shipments! We have example reports for review and experienced professionals on our team that can provide timely feedback.

3 Ways to Use Defect Data to Drive Improvement

Our quality engineers collect data from supplier locations all over the world, and we encourage our clients to get as much value as possible from our reporting to drive overall improvements and support successful supplier partnerships.

Consider the simplified example of conducting weekly pre-shipment inspections of one product at a single supplier site.  The information provided in the product specification determines the defects and whether they are major, minor or critical, which the quality engineer checks for on-site when evaluating the random samples.  An accept, reject or on-hold determination is made for each inspection based on the AQLs and other factors, but defect data can be tracked over time to add value over just the individual shipment result alone.

Here are three ways to get more from defect data:

1) Evaluate a check sheet or other data chart over a period of time such as the basic information below.

CheckSheetExample_Defects

DefectPercents

2) Visualize the information to observe and compare trends over any determined period of time.

Monthly_DefectData

3) Incorporate multiple suppliers to target improvement efforts at each location.  For example, is one supplier exceeding at meeting expectations in one or more areas where others are not?  Why? Use quality tools to further examine root causes and generate corrective actions.

SupplierComparisonThese examples only scratch the surface of what can be captured from quality inspection reports.  Each organization is unique and can determine how to select the data most relevant to goals and objectives.