Does your factory care about IQC?  It’s kind of a buzzword these days because people know there is value in it.  Some factories have experience and understand the value.  Many don’t want to understand and think close enough is good enough.  If you hear the words “cha bu duo” 差不多 when you ask about the spec, tool calibrations, procedures, you might be in trouble.  If you can, specify the materials to be used.

How do they know where your materials come from?

I’m working with a factory in Shenzhen that makes connectors and cables.  It’s basically a dusty barn with one fellow pressing out sets of connectors.  The plastic they use seems to vary in hardness.  So, my first question is “Where’s your spec on the plastics?”  His answer is that he has bought plastic from the same supplier for many years and no one ever has any problems.  I think that is a long answer for not having a spec.  He has a good price and it is meeting the needs of my client for the most part although the client would like to improve the quality over the long term.  This will require some cost and time but it can be done.

How do they check incoming materials?

I was visiting a factory that makes parts for my customer that has a troublesome component of glue.  As if glue isn’t troublesome enough, this factory had no idea what kind of glue their 3rd party was using.  On top of that, they didn’t have a procedure in place for IQC or could even explain to me how they inspect.  Did I mention I speak Chinese?

How do they manage your 3rd party suppliers?

If the factory has any experience in this area, they will rely on their own inspection criteria and provide all materials to their 3rd party suppliers.  This will avoid any unknown “cost savings” or judgements about what is good enough.  I’m always impressed when factories tell me they insist that 3rd parties use only the materials they provide.  They know what can happen in the land of counterfeits.

Does your factory even care?

Caring can vary.  If you’ve got a large order from Texas Instruments, you will get the red carpet treatment.  If not, then you’ll need to be much more hands on, and at times, if you haven’t specified clearly, be ready to compromise.  There are exceptions and I find that meeting with people face-to-face can remove many barriers.

What can you do to manage quality? 

Specify and inspect.  This is the only way.  Have a pilot run inspect and then give the green light for MP.  Don’t assume the samples you purchased months ago will be exactly what you get for production.  You want this to be win-win for both you and the factory.

I’d love to hear from you about any IQC stories you have.  Send me a note at