Do you want to make sure your suppliers are reliable and capable before integrating them into your supply chain? Factory audits provide a comprehensive look at your suppliers’ sourcing, operations policies to ensure compliance and quality management with your brand’s guidelines. Let’s take a closer look. We will discover definition, factory audits checklist, audit etiquette, etc.

What Is A Factory Audit?

Factory audits take place at the manufacturer’s facility to assess their systems, capacity, work environment, and overall capabilities. This supplier assessment process assists with decision-making and ensures potential suppliers can deliver the required products and services according to the required quality. They also ensure that suppliers comply with all the necessary industry standards.

Why Do We Need Factory Audits?

When considering outsourcing to a new supplier, audits should take place to ensure manufacturing capabilities, adhere to regulatory standards, and check quality. Audit performance is evaluated by the supplier’s production processes, organization, and quality management system. It can also set the tone for the future working relationship with the factory and help both parties become familiar with each other.

When Should Audits Take Place?

  • At the start of a working relationship with a new factory.
  • At the end of production before shipping, and at multiple stages throughout the production.
  • At random daily intervals to ensure things run smoothly on a day-to-day basis.
  • When regulations change to ensure factory compliance and evaluate whether the factory has the relevant product knowledge.

Every business should create plans and procedures for conducting audits. Audits can be performed weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on the business. Conducting regular audits helps keep track of internal processes, and examines capacity, capability, and risk assessment procedures. High-risk processes should always be audited more frequently.

What Should You Look Out For In Factory Audits?

Firstly, there should be no obvious signs of child labor. There should be a specific management team in charge of the quality management system that can show relevant documentation and compliance certification. They must also comply with standards such as ISO, and have quality improvement procedures in place.

Factory Audit Checklist:

An factory audit checklist must:

  • Provide general information about the factory supplier.
  • Evaluate all the key areas including production capability, quality, and compliance.
  • Conduct incoming, production line process, and outgoing quality inspections.
  • Ensure capacity capability, risk assessment, and evidence of any validations requiring immediate solutions.
  • Evaluate supplier audit results.
  • Complete and notify the authorization parties involved.
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Check out Lone Star’s Factory Audit Services.

Five Types Of Audits:

To help determine the most suitable factory audit for your organization, here is a list of the five most common types of audits.

1. Capability audits

  • Verify that your supplier’s manufacturing facilities are suitable to produce your product within the set timelines.
  • Ensure alignment of both parties’ sourcing policies.
  • Evaluate the competence of factory management.

2. Quality audits

  • Determine whether the supplier’s quality management system is effective (based on ISO9001 standards).
  • Identify and mitigate potential quality issues.

3. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) audits

  • Enhance the security of the supply chain.
  • Verifies compliance and ensures the integrity of security practices of business partners in your supply chain.
  • Improves U.S. border security.

4. Social compliance audits

  • Assess working conditions and ensure no human rights violations such as child labor occur (based on the SA8000 standard).
  • Help determine compliance with statutory requirements.

5. Environmental audits

  • Check whether the factory complies with environmental standards and requirements.

Audit Red Flags

Audits are a critical tool for businesses and help to ensure that supply chains are ethical. Poor audit performance could be a red flag for companies that have no serious intention of changing their ways. The important thing to note is that audits provide a snapshot of information at a particular time. Some suppliers may leave out important information during the audit process and be unable or unwilling to directly answer questions about QC fail rates or regulatory certification. Furthermore, the audit process may be under time pressure and conducted at significant expense.

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Audit Etiquette

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Factory audits are essential for ensuring compliance, quality control, and ethical standards within a manufacturing facility. Conducting these audits requires adherence to proper etiquette to maintain professionalism, foster cooperation, and gather accurate information. Here are some key etiquette considerations for factory audits:

1. Pre-Audit Communication

Initiate clear and respectful communication with the factory management before the audit. Clearly communicate the purpose, scope, and expectations of the audit. Provide advance notice, schedule a suitable time, and request relevant documents or records to ensure a smooth process.

2. Respectful Arrival

Arrive at the factory on time, dressed appropriately, and with a professional demeanor. Greet the factory staff and introduce yourself and your team. Demonstrate respect for their time and work environment.

3. Follow Factory Protocols

Comply with the factory’s safety, security, and hygiene protocols. Wear any required personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow safety guidelines to prevent accidents or disruptions to operations.

4. Active Listening

During the audit, listen attentively to the factory representatives. Show respect for their expertise, experiences, and concerns. Encourage open and honest communication by actively listening, asking relevant questions, and seeking clarification when needed.

5. Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure

Respect the confidentiality of the factory’s proprietary information and sensitive data. Do not disclose any confidential information or trade secrets to unauthorized parties. Clearly communicate any non-disclosure agreements that may be in place. Don’t take photo without permissions.

6. Constructive Feedback

Provide feedback and suggestions in a constructive manner. Offer recommendations for improvement, based on the audit findings and industry best practices. Focus on identifying areas of strength as well as opportunities for growth and enhancement.

7. Post-Audit Communication

Follow up with the factory management after the audit to discuss the findings, address any concerns, and offer support if needed. Maintain open lines of communication and provide feedback on the audit process.

By adhering to these etiquette guidelines, factory audits can be conducted professionally and respectfully, fostering a positive relationship between the auditors and the factory. This enables effective collaboration, promotes compliance, and contributes to the overall improvement of the manufacturing operations.

Read more: 5 Differences Between a Factory Audit and a Quality Inspection?

Conclusion

Factory audits are crucial for assessing suppliers’ manufacturing capabilities and quality. They are typically performed by a third-party organization at regular intervals throughout the manufacturing process to ensure that products meet the required quality standards.

Lone Star always conducts initial factory audits to ensure each factory’s production capabilities and will decide which type of audit is necessary for your business on your behalf. We also support the entire project management process and implement regular quality checks to protect your reputation. Contact us to find out more.

Visit our website to learn more supply chain services: www.lonestartech.tw

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Sources:

  1. Must-Know Tips for Manufacturing Factory Audit
  2. How Often Should Internal Audits Happen?
  3. What is A Manufacturing Audit? and The Purpose of It?
  4. Factory Audits: How They Work – and What They Reveal
  5. 6 Most Common Types of Factory Audits and the Benefits of Each
  6. What is a Factory Audit, and is it Different from an Inspection?
  7. 10 Factory Quality Audit Checklist Essentials
  8. When do you need a factory audit? 5 tips to help guide you