Working with a new supplier is challenging, especially when the relationship is split overseas. Company managers may have limited time to spend selecting and vetting a new supplier and can make quick decisions that cause endless headaches. What are the differences between a factory audit and a quality inspection?

What is a Factory Audit? 

According to ISO 9000:2015, the formal definition of an audit is the systematic, independent, and documented process for obtaining objective evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which audit criteria are fulfilled. 

Factory audits take place at the manufacturer’s facility and assess their systems, capacity, work environment, and overall capabilities. This ensures potential suppliers can deliver products and services to the required quality and comply with industry standards. 

What is a Quality Inspection? 

The formal definition of an inspection as provided by ISO 9000:2015 is conformity to specified requirements. 

A quality inspection involves checking the different attributes of a product and testing it to ensure it meets pre-specified requirements. Factory quality control staff, a buyer, or a third-party inspection company can conduct a quality inspection. They will inspect the current state of the item and report any issues. 

Although the terms factory audit and quality inspection may sound similar, they are actually very different. Here are the five main differences between a factory audit and a quality inspection.

1. Short-term vs. long-term focus

Factory audits focus on long-term working relations with potential suppliers and assess their capabilities to meet requirements and ensure high-quality products. On the other hand, quality inspections focus on one particular order or shipment

Audits are usually performed annually and attempt to provide long-term solutions to improve problems, while inspections occur frequently and focus on system faults at an operational level.

2. Factory audits go beyond quality

Factory audits focus on aspects of production other than quality. We covered the five most common types of audits in our last post to help determine the most suitable factory audit for your organization. These include:

  • Capability audits
  • Quality audits
  • Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) audits
  • Social compliance audits
  • Environmental audits

If a company is concerned about environmental issues, it may audit a supplier to see whether they operate to specific environmental standards. These audits ensure manufacturing capabilities, compliance with regulatory standards, and quality.

3. In-depth reviews

Audits provide a deep insight into specific products and processes. Conversely, quality inspections usually focus on fulfilling specific requirements. A product or service that meets these requirements is accepted. If not, it is rejected.

4. Different purpose

Factory audits assess and improve processes, while inspections examine whether or not products adhere to specific quality requirements. 

5. Different focus

Audits examine whether a supplier is a good match and provides a basis to improve the working relationship. They cover quality management and manufacturing systems to ensure there is no conflict of interest. Inspections are a valuable tool for good business outcomes. 

The table below highlights some further differences between inspections and audits.

Source: Quality Magazine

Let Lone Star help you!

Although audits and inspections have different purposes, they both aim to ensure high product quality. Lone Star assists with factory audits and quality inspections to ensure production capability and high-quality final products. Our experienced team supports the entire project management and implements regular quality checks. Contact us now for help with production or supply chain projects. Choose Lone Star, and do not leave anything to chance.

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  1. The Difference Between Inspection And Audit
  2. Auditing vs. Inspection
  3. What is a Factory Audit, and is it Different from an Inspection?
  4. What is a Product Quality Inspection, and How Do They Work?