How Do Professional Importers Ensure Product Compliance?


How Do Professional Importers Ensure Product Compliance?

Your brand is only as reliable and trustworthy as the quality of products you put out into the market. Without a robust product compliance program in place, the integrity of your brand is bound to be compromised sooner or later. Our complimentary eBook ‘How to Build Systems to Ensure Product Compliance in Large Supply Chains’ lays the foundation for building a robust compliance program to help you avoid costly mishaps and begin overcoming compliance issues today.

Product Compliance is Key To Your Success

Product compliance starts with a compliance program Effectively managing growing supply chain complexities is something that most purchasing managers/importers deal with on a day to day basis. As your brand grows compliance issues you never knew were there (nor were prepared for) may rear their ugly head, and it’s up to you to begin pinpointing issues and plugging the holes your profits will fall through, before the consumers of today tear them open even wider. Ensuring product compliance starts and ends with one thing: A robust compliance program. 

Building a compliance program

A working compliance program addresses the rules, standards, regulations and requirements that your company or brand sets for its suppliers. These standards will create the accountability within the supply chain that consumers today are looking for. At this stage if you are pondering on the necessity and importance of compliance, take a look at this: In 2007, Mattel had to recall 1.5 million lead covered toys due to negligence. The company ended up having to pay a $12.3 million settlement with another $2.3 million in civil penalties for violating a lead paint ban.

“Can your company afford a mistake like this?”

‘How to Build Systems to Ensure Product Compliance in Large Supply Chains’

‘How to Build Systems to Ensure Product Compliance in Large Supply Chains’

Learn how to avoid costly mishaps so you can begin overcoming compliance issues through understanding:
  • Why compliance is necessary now more than ever
  • How to turn your compliance challenges into opportunities for growth
  • The specific audits that are needed for compliance in your supply chain
  • How to go about creating a compliance culture for your brand
Our complimentary eBook will provide you with in-depth insights into the systems that go into building a compliant supply chain that can sustain your company going forward. The key to your success will be how well you are able to integrate these systems into every tier of your brand and supply chain, creating opportunities that will give you a competitive advantage over your competitors.




2 Ways To Ensure Supply Chain Compliance

Supply chain compliance is becoming one of the biggest challenges faced by all retail professionals. Among small, medium enterprises’s it likely hits a little harder, with limited resources and where costs are always a make or break factor. Often-times you can only afford a supplier lacking certain levels compliance documentation, which in turn requires you to monitor them even more stringently, but can you afford the resources to do so properly? Your supply chain is dotted with complexities that can expose your organization to risk. This risk as you know needs to be avoided and planned for with actionable steps in place to mitigate any kind of exposure or threat to your supply chains operations. So let’s do just that…  In this blog post, I endeavor to highlight only two of the most common supply chain challenges that many regional retailers currently face, but also what you can do to begin achieving that desired supply chain compliance for your brand so that you may begin safeguarding against avoidable areas of risk. So let’s dive in;

First Identify your challenges

Identifying the challenges that you face within your retail supply chain is always the best place to begin, here I list two of the most common challenges that are experienced among many a local retailer; 1. Supplier relationships –  Your suppliers are the key to your entire operation. Take a moment consider that… Supplier collaboration can foster growth, if allowed they can also help you to create operational efficiencies which enables you to get your product to market a lot faster. This relationship will act as an incubator for out of the box, innovative thinking as your supplier begins to take real ownership of the end products and their quality. The way in which you engage with your suppliers from the very beginning, will set the tone for your operations going forward. Careful assessment is needed when signing on new suppliers, this is often the point at which compliance problems begin to seep in. You need to ensure that all the appropriate factory technical documentation is in order when selecting a supplier. A bit of due diligence in this area will guard you in the long-run. This will ensure that you have a defined and agreed upon set of operating principles where everything is done in compliance with these operating principles and standards. 2. CSR and environmental impact – Through adequate evaluation and a good a supplier relationship you will be able to determine CSR and environmental impacts. This is either done through a social compliance audit and an environmental audit which is either done in-house or through a third-party quality provider, such as API. An environmental audit will provide insight into things like by-product waste of the factory, how they dispose their waste, who disposes their waste and what levels of CO2 are being emitted and whether or not any of this can be reduced or are even being addressed. The results will help you to determine their impact on the environment and whether or not they are compliant with local and/or international environmental laws. A social compliance audit provides insight into things like child and forced labour, overtime and possible wage related disputes. This things are not only unethical, but should your brand be aligned with these practices, you will be destroying your brands reputation and image. The results of the above audits will enable you to make an informed decision about the type of supplier you wish to align your brand with. Supply chain compliance and environmental auditing Let’s take a look at what Walmart did; They created what they call the Sustainability Index, which is essentially a scorecard for suppliers to be reported on from various social and environmental production factors. Walmart has said that by the end of 2017 that 70% of its products will come from suppliers who participate through this Index, and as a benefits they will be endorsed as a sustainable partner and proud Walmart supplier. Solutions Supply chain compliance is an important issue to address, with many local retail brands realising that compliance needs to be a top priority to be achieved in order to achieve a globally competitive advantage in the market. So how do we go about achieving just that? Good supplier relationships for supply chain compliance 1. Supply chain visibility –  This refers to the data visibility made available within your supply chain; from where your raw materials come from, to your factory’s technical operations right through to your inventory management strategies. All of this data needs to be made available and visible to your consumers to create a sesnse of openness and trust within your supply chain operations. **When bringing on new suppliers be sure to ask for access to all of their compliance documentation from health and safety, to environmental and technical information. 2. Supply chain transparency – This is where your organisation begins to analyse current quality and compliance procedures. Transparency and visibility need to work hand-in-hand the data provides insight into the operations and the operations provide the data to be analysed. Supply chain transparency endeavours to take a deeper look into your systems and processes, understanding what makes them work and also not work. This approach to your supply chain operations allows you to mitigate risk early on, but also identify any areas that may need improvement, therefor adopting a continuous quality improvement cycle. As mentioned earlier, consumers actively research any retail brand’s supply chain and its processes from raw material to the moment a product reaches the floor to right before they make that purchase decision. It is crucial for your brand to ensure clean and compliant operational procedures if you are to achieve a globally competitive brand. Supply chain compliance need not be another complexity that your retail brand needs to face, through actively engaging and applying the above suggestions to your operations they will indeed help you on your way to a successful and compliant supply chain that puts your brand in a position of growth and also mitigates against any unnecessary risks.



Cookware Product Specifications Are Key For Quality

Product specifications a small (albeit important) step that requires a bit of technical input, but one that can have a vast implications for the quality of your end product.
Importers today are becoming more aware of defining specifications more clearly than before, so as to manage their product quality more effectively.
You also cannot simply think that showing your supplier an image of the product you would like them to manufacture and expect it to arrive perfectly.


Sourcing cookware is complex in nature, but sourcing abroad from a foreign country to your own has its own set of challenges that you need to be aware of.
In this blog post, I seek to outline the importance of cookware product specifications for your sourcing strategies and how these industry best practices can set your brand ahead of the rest.

Challenges of sourcing your cookware abroad

Whether you choose to source closer to home or abroad, there is no doubt about the complexities in communication at the best of times. In highlighting the challenges of sourcing abroad we are able to easily identify opportunities for turning these around.

Product quality challenges – The material chosen for production will influence the price and quality of the product. The cookware will need to be tested for extreme high heats and ensure that it is stain resistant when brought into contact with certain liquids. If there are plastic handles on the cookware they will need to be heat resistant.

cookware product specifications

Your cookware should also be chemically tested in a lab to ensure the materials used are in compliance with European regulation.

Compliance problems – You need to ensure that when you select your supplier they are in compliance with all social and environmental standards as internationally laid out. You may need to give them time achieve the relevant compliance documents. Failure to do this and you put your brand and your consumers in a risky position, where trust in your brand is potentially compromised.

In sourcing your cookware abroad you also need to ensure that your products are in chemical compliance according to the chemical FDA and the EU food grade requirements.

It will be important to make sure that you communicate your expectations to your supplier clearly and effectively so as to minimize any comebacks and problems.

Operations and Logistics –  Sourcing your cookware abroad also comes with its fair share of logistical nightmares; from import and export licenses to shipping and packing of containers.

Language – If you are sourcing cookware abroad, the likelihood is that you will encounter language problems, but you can overcome this through the following;

  • Use templates of production and manufacturing information.
  • You may also consider translation for important documents.
  • Consider a third party quality provider with expertise in your sourcing zone and experience in cookware specifications.

Different time zones – If you are based in Europe and sourcing in Asia you will be facing vastly different time zones.

You can send an employee to interact with your supplier on the ground. This is a great opportunity to meet your supplier in person and also see the state of your chosen factory.

Why your cookware product specifications are so important

Now that we have taken a look into the common challenges of sourcing cookware abroad, let’s take a dive into why your cookware product specifications are crucial in defining your products level of quality.

How do you define your product specifications?

You can go about defining your specifications by creating a document that is inclusive of:

  • Pictures or sketched images of your desired end product. This picture or drawing needs to be inclusive of dimensions as well from the sizing to the thickness of metal you require.
  • You need to include what raw materials are required for your product. This is important as your supplier will need to source this if you have not.
  • You absolutely have to include what your destination market is;
    • Why? Your product has to meet certain specified regulatory compliances, it is your responsibility to make sure that it does. E.g. If it is destined for Europe it will need to comply with the EU food grade. If it is destined for the USA it will need to comply with the chemical FDA.

We have included an example of what a product spec sheet may look like; you may want to add or subtract from this, but this is to give an idea of how you can go about filling one out;

Improved product quality

What happens if you don’t send through your product specifications to your supplier?

Defects, recalls, a loss in revenue, brand damage? Not an ideal picture, so let’s take a look at the following examples that highlight the importance defining your product specs clearly and what can happen if you don’t;

A material problem 

The below frying pan poses a risk of burns because the plastic handle becomes too hot, reaching a temperature of 94°C, and no indication is given in the information at the point of sale that the product should be used exclusively on gas or electric (spiral resistance) hot plates.

This product does not comply with the relevant European standard EN 12983 and therefore had to be recalled.

Without specifying the materials needed to create a safe and compliant frying pan destined for the European market place you open yourself up to costly mistakes that can lead to serious loss in revenue and loss of trust in your brand.

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 8.08.50 AM.png

Product design issue 

This frying pan is unstable and can tip over unless there is sufficient weight in the frying pan. This unstable design has resulted in serious burn risks as well as the product being recalled.

An expensive mistake to make.


As mentioned above if you are sourcing in Asia, you will encounter language and cultural barriers. There are steps you can take to ensuring your product is perfectly designed and compliant for its destination market.

If you are confident in the product specifications you send to your supplier, be sure to ask them to date and sign it to indicate their acceptance and understanding of your specifications.

Key Takeaways

Sourcing your cookware and kitchenware abroad can have many complexities from language and cultural barriers to the quality and compliance of your product. Developing a sourcing strategy that is based on sound industry best practice will assist in improved product quality that is set to positively position your brand in the marketplace.

Defining your cookware product specifications will go a long way in ensuring low defect rates, you can go about this by;

  • Drawings or renderings with detailed guidelines on size, width, colour etc.
  • Your specification sheet needs to include what raw materials you require
  • Your specification sheet also needs to clearly state which country its destined for, so as to ensure a compliant product.

In clearly defining your cookware product specifications with your supplier you put yourself in a positive position for competitive growth and you also protect yourself from any unnecessary risks.





The Ultimate Quality Inspection Guide: 9 Steps To Follow

Quality is what makes (or breaks) a brand and its products. Simple as that. How much time do you actually spend analyzing your quality control systems for focal points that could be the cause of the quality problems you are facing?
Product defects are a reality, for everyone!

The CPSC recently recalled 29 million IKEA chests and dressers that do not comply with the performance requirements of the U.S. voluntary industry standard. This defect resulted in 3 deaths, costing IKEA an amount of $50million for each family in settlement.
Time constraints, lack of resources with ineffectual QMS systems and no guarantees of a perfect quality product often play a role in the number of product defects your supplier produces.

So, how does one avoid costly mistakes that harm their brand and reputation?

We have created a step-by-step guide on how a third party quality provider such as API can help with improved product quality by minimizing defects.
As a professional quality assurance company, we take pride in customizing our quality solutions to that of each of our client’s needs.
This guide addresses the importance of the quality inspection procedures you choose to use for your product and the benefits that they can have for your overall factory performance.

So what can you expect to learn from this?

We walk you through the moment that you touch base with API, to when and who contacts you and how they go about assessing, inspecting and addressing your quality needs and issues every step of the way.

Compliance for improved product quality

  • Tell us everything
    When we say tell us everything we mean it.
    We cover topics such as your exact needs and wants for inspection and testing, as well as discuss what your auditing needs may be. We also follow up on your progress with the Technical Compliance File (TCF) or introduce you to this compliance method.
    These topics help us define the types of questions we need to be answered to better position ourselves in understanding a client’s particular set of needs.
  • Specify everything
    We take you through the specification process and provide you with examples of how you can go about this.
    From dimensions of your product to the colour, to the raw materials, to your packaging requirements, we aim to improve the production process by making this step easy for your supplier to navigate.
    Communication and specification are key.
    An often underrated element of preventing product defects is building a good collaborative relationship with your supplier.
  • Know what your inspection needs are
    Each inspection type is different. This guide takes you through the step-by-step process of each inspection type and what you can expect from each with an outline of their key benefits for you and your end product.
  • Reducing product defects and raising the overall quality of your factory  
    Once all the work is complete, depending on how many inspections were performed,  API provides Key Performance Indicators based on data related insights that were identified through the various inspection reports.

Improved product quality through reportingThis data helps identify any problem areas that may need attention, through this API can then propose improvement strategies. Say, for example, a supplier repeatedly has below standard inspection results, we will then be able to propose a technical audit of the factory to identify root causes and based on that propose any corrective actions, which will, in turn, raise the overall quality of the factory.

**Bonus – We have added checklists to help assist you in improving your product quality.

Product defects are not great, they are what probably keeps you up at night, but in following the quality inspection guide you will begin to reduce the number of defects you experience and in turn will also raise the overall quality of the factory.

This guide is for any importer, retailer, and quality manager who is constantly looking to improve their quality control procedures through the use of an expert third party quality provider that can assist in the following;

  • Raw material inspection solutions
  • Inline, DUPRO and FRI inspection solutions
  • Technical and social auditing solutions
  • Data capturing from checklists and reporting
  • Improvement strategies based on data based insights

A third party quality provider with the appropriate expertise and experience will take you above and beyond in achieving high-quality products and placing you at a competitive position in the market place.




How Lego improved CSR with toy quality management system?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a must for any toy brand that wants to achieve growth and avoid the costly implications of non compliance. A company that is testament to this fact is Lego. Last year the toy giant reported its highest revenue yet in its 85 year history, their profits rising 1.7% to 12.2bn kroner. This growth showcases the heights you can achieve through organizational commitment. Global retail brands are increasingly wanting to partner with suppliers of children’s toys who can provide them with the appropriate environmental and social compliance. Lego has been able to achieve their CSR goals through going above and beyond what any toy quality management system requires. How have they done this? Renewable energy. In 2012 the toy company began investing in wind turbines to power their operations globally. As a result, in 2016 more than 360 gigawatt hours of energy was used by the LEGO Group to produce the more than 75 billion LEGO bricks sold around the world during the year. Toy quality management systems - renewable energy They initially had committed to making this transition by 2020, but they ended up meeting their target 3 years early! This is one great commitment to the realm of renewable energy. Apart from this they are currently investing loads of money and time into finding alternatives to plastic for their famous building blocks. As consumers increasingly dictate how manufacturers design and make toys, the power of adopting CSR and green initiatives as a part of your competitive strategy will have global results for your brand. What do I mean by this? The toy quality management system you choose to adopt will provide a framework for which CSR is able to be strategically implemented for your brand. Lego is a prime example of this. Whilst they are a children’s toy brand, they have committed fully to sourcing a more environmentally friendly plastic for their iconic plastic blocks. Even though they have not yet found a suitable alternative, their commitment and investment in trying to, puts them at the forefront of an initiative consumers the world over want to see and be a part of. So I put the question to you…

How can your QMS leverage CSR for a globally competitive position?

Let’s take a bit of a deeper dive in… A QMS framework is just that: A framework that has been created to ensure quality in all areas from management to products, to customers, to factory processes and environmental impact. The ISO 14001:15 is the international standard used to navigate environmental impact and innovations. What are the key benefits of complying with ISO 14001:15? 
  • It demonstrates compliance with current regulatory requirements. Toy quality management system - ISO 14001
  • It increases leadership involvement and engagement of employees.
  • It improves company reputation and the confidence of stakeholders through strategic communication.
  • It achieves strategic business aims by incorporating environmental issues into its business management.
  • It provides a competitive and financial advantage through improved efficiencies and reduced costs.
  • It encourages better environmental performance of suppliers by integrating them into the organization’s business systems.
This system provides accountability and creates a platform for building sustainable relationships with your suppliers, as you work together to meet a set of global standards for your toy production.

How can your toy brand go about implementing ISO today?

We have outlined a stepped process which will help you prepare for compliance according to the environmental ISO 14001 framework for your brand;
  • You will need to identify all aspects and environmental impacts of your organization’s activities
  • If you have not established an environmental policy for your organization, you will need to go ahead and do this.
  • You will need to formalize your environmental procedures and publish them in company manuals and company policy.
  • You will need to bring the company into compliance with all legal requirements and mandatory regulations.
  • You will need to get the confirmation of compliance by all stakeholders such as clients and legal authorities.
  • Lastly, you will need to obtain a certification of your environmental management system by a registered third party.
ISO developed these frameworks in which brands are able to optimize their quality systems according to a set of international standards, by international standards it means that consumers can have confidence that their products are safe, reliable and of good quality. The ISO’s standards on road safety and toy safety regulations are just a few of those that help make the world a safer place. As consumers today become increasingly aware of how their favorite brands are attaining goals that closely align with a global value system, it will be important to adopt a toy quality management system that increases your competitive position in the market place. Do you have any questions around environmental auditing solutions? We will be pleased to answer them and help where we can.




Furniture Inspection Best Practices For Importers

How does one go about skipping on lengthy delays, dodging product recalls and potentially damaging brand reputation that is brought on by furniture quality issues before it’s too late? Importing furniture from South-East Asia is as attractive, if not more, than any other market in the world, but the logistics, compliance, and potential communication challenges it presents does little to guarantee that the standards of quality for your destination market will be met. In this blog post, we seek to outline what you can do to ensure that your furniture reaches you at its highest level of quality, ultimately, to give your brand the competitive advantage it deserves.

Have you determined your DCL (defect classification list)?

This is often a step that is an afterthought, but classifying this, in the beginning, will help to clarify the meaning of your furniture inspection report. This is the most widely used defect category;
  • Critical defect – A critical defect is one that judgment and experience indicate is likely to:
    • result in hazardous or unsafe conditions for individuals using, maintaining, or depending upon the products; or
    • Prevent performance of the tactical function of a major end item. A critical defective is a unit of product that contains one or more critical defects.
  • Major defect – A major defect is one, that is likely to result in failure, or to reduce the usability of the product for its intended purpose.
  • Minor defect – A minor defect is one that is not likely to reduce the usability of the product for its intended purpose, or is a departure from established standards having little bearing on the effective or operation of the product.
If there is no established DCL, API has a detailed inspection checklist which will be made available so as to proceed with the inspection.

DUPRO (During Production Inspection) to help resolve your furniture quality issues early on

This is often a critical stage in ensuring that your final piece of furniture will reach its expected level of quality. Referring to the below, 2700 chairs were recalled because of fall hazards that were due to the breaking or bending of the leg. The CPSC found that structural frame of the upholstery chairs was missing a support block to the leg this was against original design. Furniture inspection - DUPRO furniture inspection - DUPRO check
Such as this upholstery chair, you would never check the structure frame inside visually after it is wrapped by fabric when the production was completed.
Furniture inspection complete productA DUPRO inspection could assess some of these critical points at the right moment before the production was completed. DUPRO could focus on finished products, evaluate production status and quality system implemented on the production line. In many cases, a couch or piece of furniture is inspected before the entire purchase order has been completed. This type of inspection means that any problem that has come about should be identified early on and will, therefore, be addressed on site. Your DUPRO inspection report needs to be inclusive of any and all quality issues that were found during the production process. No issue is too small to include.

Update your furniture specifications, based on the DUPRO feedback

Upon receiving your DUPRO furniture inspection report, you will need to go through every step of the report thoroughly. Look at what “pending” results there may be. You should have a strategy in place on how you address these “pending” quality issues. Furniture inspection - redefining product specifications It is at this point that you will need to re-communicate your products specifications to begin addressing those furniture items with “pending” status. Sourcing in Asia is not without communication and language barriers. You can look to overcome these barriers by using a neutral third party quality provider who has the expertise in your sourcing area. Having boots on the ground will ensure that your product specifications are communicated correctly and clearly.

Do a root cause analysis as a preventative measure going forward

It is important to note that a root cause analysis should not be a once off thing that you implement in the odd major defective production case. You should have an RCA strategy of exactly how you will handle defective furniture products with your supplier. Don’t have an RCA strategy? Follow the steps I’ve outline below to help you;
  • Problem Recognition and Definition – Acknowledge and define what your furniture’s production problem is.
  • Identify the causes – Go through the process of cause identification. The trick here is to not spend too much time brainstorming or mind mapping. This needn’t be a time-consuming aspect of the RCA.
  • Identify solutions – Based on your cause identification you will need to identify the best possible solutions to addressing the problem so that it does not happen again.
  • Implement the solutions – If your furniture’s quality was compromised on the production line, you would need to begin implementing the solutions that you were able to identify to prevent any future occurrences of this. The solution needs to be one that optimizes and betters your operational processes. If the proposed solution does not accomplish this, you may need to repeat the above steps to ensure you come up with something that will.
An RCA does not have to be a time-consuming strategy. What it does need to do is highlight the problems and make room for process optimization.

A FRI (Final Random Inspection) is based on sampling inspections

An FRI is a pre-shipment inspection of a small sample of your furniture. This inspection type is used to determine any quality defects that may have come from the production process. preventing product defects - Sample test.jpg A random furniture sample will be selected at this point, where they will each be checked one by one to inspect whether or not they meet the following;
  • Does it meet all of the product specifications as laid out by you?
  • How many visual defects are there?
  • What onsite tests need to be done?

Key Takeaways

The steps as laid out above should be planned and strategized over for each product category that you source. The benefits of the above inspection types;
  • They allow you to detect quality issues early on.
  • A step-by-step analysis of the root cause of the problem which allows you to make sure this problem doesn’t recur.
  • They allow room for re-communication of product specifications.
Analyse every report from every inspection type. If you are not happy to communicate this and communicate what needs to be done differently to meet your required specification. This kind of planning and strategy will see you through the production of high-quality furniture that will positively position your brand in the market place. Have you endeavoured to optimize or customize your inspection solutions? Let us know in the comments section how any of these solutions have been of benefit to your organization. If you have any inspection related questions, please feel free to get in touch with us.



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Toy Testing: How To Comply With En 71 & ASTM F963

With the strict safety and quality standards of children’s toys, there is absolutely no room for non-compliance. Compliance issues can cause potential health hazards and in some cases fatalities. Here we discuss the importance of toy testing and provide you with an exact outline of toy safety regulations and all of the most recent updates to help you avoid compliance issues, so that you can continue to produce toys of the highest quality. The toy industry is a lucrative one with “toy sales in 2015 increasing by 4% over 2014 to $87.4billion…with estimated growth expected to exceed $90 billion in sales in 2016.”

There is surely continued opportunities for economic growth and sustainable innovation in this massive industry going into 2017 and beyond.

But, the toy market, and product safety specifically, makes it a volatile one.

What happens when due diligence is left by the wayside?

41% of toys that were recalled in the EU alone were due to choking hazards, whilst chemical compositions makes the second largest recall between January 2016 and July 2017.

By looking at the graph below, you will see the breakdown of recalls over this period of time:

Toy testing regulations and compliance issues

The stats above paint a clear picture for importers to abide by toy safety compliance standards, for it is not only in your best economic interest, but also for your brand’s protection and growth.

Today, children’s toys are subject to some of the strictest safety and quality standards in the retail marketplace due to the sensitive nature of their consumer base.

The question is…

How do importers keep up with the latest news in toy safety regulations to avoid potential disasters and recalls as reflected above?

In this blog post, I seek to highlight the EU EN71 safety standards that your imported toys need to comply with. I will also highlight the latest updates of this standard, to ensure you are up to date with the latest in toy compliance.

We also look at the US standard, ASTM F963, where we will highlight the latest updates to ensure that your products are in compliance. Lastly, I seek to provide you with actionable steps to achieving compliance according to these standards and what you can do to continue producing children’s toys of the highest quality.

EN 71

The EN71 is a set of European Product Safety standards that apply to all toys, sold in the European Union. The EN 71 also forms a part of the CE directive. As an importer of children’s toys you will need to ensure that the toys you are importing into Europe are labelled with this CE mark.

This mark basically stipulates that a particular toy is compliant with the safety regulations as laid out by the European Union and its safety standard.

Here is a table of what this standard is inclusive of, but I will also highlight the ones that have been updated recently so that you, know exactly what your products need to be compliant with;


Toy testing & safety regulations - En 71

The latest EN71 update includes

The latest children’s toy update and revision of the above table is as follows;
The CEN has published Toy safety standard EN 71-12:2016 for n-nitrosamines and n-nitrosatable substances. This standard is expected to be harmonized under Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC by publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
Major change of the new version includes this;

  • More stringent limits of n-nitrosamines and n-nitrosatable substances for toys intended for use by children under 36 months and intended or likely to be placed into the mouth of the child.
  • a modified definition for ‘elastomer’ from ISO 472:2013 (Plastics – Vocabulary, for better clarity)
  • a new procedure for the extraction process for toys and parts of toys other than balloons
  • use of porous graphitic carbon (PGC) reversed phase (C18) high performance liquid chromatography (HLPC) columns as an additional option for analysis
  • an additional set of multiple reaction monitoring-transitions (MRM-transitions) for quantification and identification

What this revision should mean for your sourcing and production strategies

This standard is applicable to the following products;

  • Toys and parts of toys made from elastomers and intended for use by children under 36 months
  • Toys and parts of toys made from elastomers and intended to be placed in the mouth
  • Finger paints for children under 36 months

Manufacturers will need to provide evidence of compliance from the supplier of these materials, before the manufacturing of these items can proceed. There may also be a random sampling after mass production for post production testing to ensure you are not in violation of the above safety regulations.

ASTM F963-16

The ASTM F 963-16, The Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, is a comprehensive standard that addresses numerous hazards that have been identified with toys.

Toy testing & safety regulations ASTM F963-16


The latest ASTM F963 update includes

  • Among the changes, the 2016 revision addresses ride-on toys with: a new curb impact requirement, a clarification of overload and stability requirements, and a strap exemption.
  • new labelling requirements for toys that have certain small coins or button batteries,
  • temperature and current-limiting requirements for lithium-ion batteries, and
  • new requirements for materials and toys that could expand if accidentally swallowed.
  • Other revisions include:

– new soaking and compression tests for magnets

– new requirements and clarifications related to microbiological safety;

– clarifications to heavy elements requirements for toy substrate materials

– revised requirements for toys involving projectiles; and,

– clarification of requirements and supplemental guidance for impact hazards.

What this revision should mean for your sourcing and production strategies

You will have noticed that all children’s toys that have been produced after 30 April 2017 needed to be tested according to ASTM F963-16.

According to ASTM F963-16 all toys that are intended for children of 12 years old and under need to be tested by a registered CPC third party testing and quality provider, who will then furnish you with the appropriate product specific CPC which declares that your product complies with the federal toy safety standard.

Suggestions for complying with these toy testing regulations

As an importer you may be feeling overwhelmed about adhering to the regulations as laid out above and while you should be doing everything you can to adhere to them, here we lay out a few suggestions of how to go about doing this;

  • You need to work towards improving quality control procedures by strictly monitoring the quality of raw materials. Do not fall into the trap of using cheaper, substandard materials. Whilst this may be appealing for cost reduction, you will be putting your brand at unnecessary risks.
  • Improving your products quality always needs to be a primary goal. Many of the new updates in regulation also stipulate the use of a third party quality provider as mandatory for your products compliance.
  • Ensure you use a third party company that is up to date with the latest in toy testing and safety regulations. This will reduce the risks of potential product recalls resulting in a bad image for your brand, but also a loss in revenue.
  • Seek new non-toxic environmentally-friendly raw materials. How do you go about sourcing your raw materials? This may step may be a little more difficult to pursue, but let’s take a look at Lego. Their blocks are made of plastic, but currently, they are investing loads of money and time into finding alternatives to plastic for their famous building blocks. It’s this kind of commitment that ensures a positive and innovative position in the market place.

Understanding the regulations and what they mean for your current sourcing strategy for children’s toys will help give appropriate direction and guidelines to your current competitive positioning in the market place.

By understanding these regulations and ensuring compliance according to them, you are able to guard yourself against potential product recalls and even potential lawsuits that could come from health and safety violations that are sadly too often found within children’s toys.

“API is equipped to meet the above product testing and safety requirements accordingly to ensure your brand’s safety and protection.”



Social Compliance Audit For Consumer Electronics

How should importers of consumer electronics avoid a supply chain which includes suppliers who use child labour, have dirty and unsafe conditions, or who don’t follow labour rules? Here we endeavour to outline how a social compliance audit for consumer electronics can positively position your brand in the market place. Conditions as mentioned above have made themselves all too familiar within the retail supply chain, and the worst part is that many retailers claim that they didn’t even know about this right up until before these tragedies became global news. So how can we prevent this? A social compliance audit. This audit can go a long way in preventing some of the damaging issues many brands of consumer electronic products, and indeed other items, are all too familiar with. Social Compliance Audit For Consumer Electronics A social compliance audit can be difficult to attain, but is an absolute necessity for that transparent supply chain your consumers today are demanding. A social compliance audit ensures that a factory and its practices are abiding by all local laws and that you meet all of the social obligations as set out by the guidelines of the audit, from fair wages to no instances of child labor in a factory. In this blog post, I will outline the exact procedure of this audit, the benefits it offers to your consumer electronics brand and how you can go about conducting this audit for yourself. So, let’s dive in…

What can consumer electronic importers can expect from a social compliance audit?

Consumer electronic brands endeavour toward social compliance for these main reasons;
  • Brand protection
  • To ensure your factory is clean and meets high levels of standards
I have gone on to create a list of what can be expected of a social compliance audit of your electronics factory, to help you better prepare for this; Onsite inspection – The auditors go around and inspect your factory for health and safety violations, this can also be inclusive of any sleeping quarters that may be on site, which will be relevant to the factory being audited. In the case of consumer electronics, which is less labour intensive, but has more machinery which may cause potential mechanical and electrical hazards. Therefore your auditor will spend more time assessing the safety and working environment, from sufficient fire exits to clear instructions of how to exit the building in the case of an emergency. They will also spend time assessing whether sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) has been made available to each worker. Social Compliance Audit For Consumer Electronics - Document review Document reviews – Auditors will check all the documentation of the supplier to determine the presence of any possible child labour, an all too common violation within the consumer electronics industry. They also assess whether there are any violations of extended working hours and wages. They will also look into what types of social insurance are available to workers and review any fire and safety documentation, which will help to determine whether or not any safety precautions or plans are in place. They will also inspect whether or not there is any environmental monitoring being done and, if so, how it is conducted. Employee interviews – The auditors conduct interviews with the factory in question staff, where they ask them about their working hours, overtime, and about their holiday/leave time. Auditors also like to cross check these statements by interviewing factory management to ensure there are no discrepancies. This helps to clarify whether there are any instances of abuse or misconduct between staff and management. In the case of a re-audit these interviews will then be conducted again to ensure improvement plans are being implemented properly. Closing meeting with audit status – This meeting reveals the audit results of your CE factory and also makes suggestion for improvements. If you use a qualified third party quality management provider to conduct this audit, they will provide you with an improvement plan and customize it according to your needs. Continuous improvement – A reputable third party quality assurance solution provider will provide you with a plan of execution to rectify the shortcomings of a factory. To ensure the factory is executing the suggested improvements there are also unannounced visits by auditors to evaluate the factory’s improvement progress. Factories that attain a clean audit, will only be audited on an annual basis. In factories that achieve marginal results, they are often dropped in on unannounced and also receive audits on an annual basis. Factories that fail will then have a follow up audit again in a few months.

Protecting your electronics brand through a social compliance audit

Attaining a pass on your social compliance audit report is a commitment that your organization makes to ensuring that you are socially responsible and that you are committed to treating your factory’s staff ethically and in compliance with global ethical standards. So the question is… Is your consumer electronics brand committed to achieving an ethically responsible supply chain? Let’s take a look at the standards as laid out by SA8000: The 9 SA8000 social compliance requirements are:
  • Child labour – No children younger than 15 years of age may be employed by any factory.
  • Forced labour – No person may be employed by a factory if they haven’t offered to do so voluntarily or be forced to work under the threat of punishment or retaliation.
  • Health and safety – A safe and healthy workplace environment must be provided by the factory, who should also prevent any potential health and safety incidents and work related injury or illness from occurring. In the case of consumer electronics you would need to ensure that there is sufficient personal protective equipment within factories.
  • Freedom of association and collective bargaining – All staff have the right to form, join and organize trade unions and to bargain collectively on their behalf.
  • Discrimination – A factory is prohibited from engaging in discrimination in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement.
  • Disciplinary practices – A factory is prohibited from engaging in or tolerating the use of corporal punishment, mental or physical coercion or verbal abuse of employees.
  • Working hours – A factory must comply with applicable laws, collective bargaining agreements and industry standards on working hours, breaks and public holidays.
  • Remuneration – The right of staff to a living wage must be respected by the factory.
  • Management systems – Compliance must be reviewed and implemented to the SA8000 standard through developed policies and procedures.
Social Compliance Audit For Consumer Electronics - SA8000 In understanding the ethical compliance standards as laid out above, you are able to make informed decisions about the suppliers you choose to use in the manufacturing of your electrical products. Panasonic and Sony have been caught in supply chain scandals, that have created immense amounts of bad media coverage for the global electronic brands. Accused of unfair labor practices in factories, with vastly underpaid staff and electrical components that are said to be sourced from parts of the world known to be inclusive of child slave labour. With this in the media, consumers will begin to think twice about purchasing your product as they do not want to be affiliated with brands who are not achieving progress toward a transparent, sustainable retail supply chain as laid out by SA8000 guideline. Can your consumer electronics brand afford publicity like this? Achieving your social compliance audit will reduce any potential risks relating to the violations of global ethical standards, which puts your brand in a risky position and can cost your organization public shaming and embarrassment, scarring your brand. Dependent on the severity of the violation it could also cost you millions in lawsuits too. This type of audit provides the desired transparency many consumers are looking for within the retail supply chain. Today’s consumers are becoming more concerned with the way in which products are sourced and manufactured, and rightly so. So what are you doing to maintain consumer trust in your brand?

Who should conduct your factory’s social audit?

Many suppliers choose to conduct their own audits with in house teams, this method is untrustworthy which can produce bias results of the supplier.

Unless you have an extremely good relationship with the supplier in question and know for a fact that they are not going to lie on your audit report, then this way of passing a factory social audit is not our recommendation. Hiring an impartial third party quality management provider may be the answer They are viewed as independent parties with all the technical expertise to be able to produce unbiased reports and provide you with actionable improvement plans for you to progress forward in achieving your factory’s social compliance. factory social audit

Independent audits are also taken into higher consideration by NGO’s and the media to be a truer and an honest reflection of the findings within the factory.

By outsourcing this service you not only are able to protect your brand’s image, but you minimize any potential risks you might face by not having a social audit, that can prove to be costly for your brand in many more ways than just revenue loss. Many consumer electronic factories are still found in violation of unfair labor practices or extensive work hours. This doesn’t have to be… Let’s take a look at what Apple has implemented when underage labor is found within their factories; “If we find underage workers in our suppliers’ factories, we make the suppliers return the children to their homes, pay for their education at a school of their family’s choice, and continue to provide income for basic needs until they reach the legal working age. We also enlist a third-party organization to monitor the children’s progress and report back to us. After they complete their education, suppliers must offer them reemployment. In 2015, we found three cases of underage labor — and we will continue to look for it.” Apple has shown that ethical and fair practice within your factory is not impossible to attain. It will be up to you to implement an appropriate strategy to deal with the social challenges felt within consumer electronic factories. Apple is a global leader for consumer electronics, but is also innovating in the way that they say no to injustices in a supply chain and go above and beyond to achieve an ethical and fair supply chain to produce the high quality electronics that they offer. Are you willing to do what it takes to achieve that transparent supply chain? API can help you attain this goal as your third party auditing partner. Have you undertaken SC audits across your CE supply chain?  If you have any question about factory social audits, feel free to contact us and we will be pleased to answer them and help where we can.

Compliance Issues & Product recalls: 4 Lessons To Learn From!

Product recalls are a veritable nightmare! There is no other way to express the dread and that sinking feeling when the customer complaints start rolling in, and you begin considering whether or not to announce a recall. A recall will spell significant damage to your brand image, and thousands, if not millions of loss in revenue. Yes, you may argue that retailers are insured against recalls, but building trust with your customers is a difficult task at the best of times. The digital age has also made it more difficult to hide the smallest of quality problems from your customers, and rebuilding trust from slip-ups that could have been prevented just adds fuel to a fire that won’t stop burning. But it’s not all doom and gloom… Product recalls can be prevented through best practice QC procedures, through due diligence, through strategic planning and implementation, through proper inspection reports and appropriate product testing to ensure that  your compliance issues are a thing of the past. In this blog post, we take a look at four product recalls from household goods and electronic giants in recent history, that could have been prevented through a bit of due diligence, through proper testing procedures and reliable quality management service providers.

1. Keurig Coffee Makers To Pay $5.8 Million In Civil Penalties

Keurig is a well-known coffee machine brand in the United States, with many corporate offices around the country being dotted with these machines, where it fast became an office staple. But, imagine this. Waking up to make that quick cup of coffee before work, or even offering an important investor a cup of coffee before heading into a meeting, and your machine begins to steam and spit out boiling water, causing a potential burn injury. Not an ideal situation… This left Keurig in some seriously ‘hot water’! Compliance issues and product recallsOn 23rd December 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the recall of over 7 million coffee machines.Between 2010-2014, there were over 200 complaints of boiling water spraying out of the machine and approximately 90 burn injuries reported.It has been recently announced that Keurig has agreed to pay over $5.8 million in civil penalties to the government. This penalty is to settle the charges against Keurig as they knew about the product’s defect, but failed to report it and continued to export the product despite the fact that it can and did cause major injuries. What should have been done differently? Keurig appealed to consumers to request a repair kit that was able to fit onto the product free of charge. In reviewing the repair kit installation guidelines, it consisted of a new basket with a rubber seal to ensure that no hot water or steam would escape during use causing potential for burn injuries. There was also an extra handle that slides over the original one to avoid direct contact with the hot water or steam that may be released when the handle is in position, or if hot water or steam is released during use, it would be pushed in the downward or upward position. This kind of repair kit tells us that problem was related to product design more than any manufacturing or quality control issues. This story also tells us how that at times it may not be enough to be in compliance with just the testing regulation. There may be times when specific tests need to be developed to beyond the standard testing criteria, simulation tests are often a good example here; where a quality control team can simulate the kind of tough operating environment that a specific product may need. This can often be done through a thorough risk assessment that should be completed during the product design stage. The CPSC has not been able to disclose any more information as to what caused the defects, but that Keurig has agreed to build and implement a compliance program to ensure that they comply with the Consumer Product Safety Act. Adopting a compliance program stands as the rules, standards, regulations and requirements your organization sets for its suppliers, as this will grant you full transparency into supply chain operations. A compliance program should not just be another program that importers tick off on an annual basis. It should become a key outcome and a reflection of an effective and efficient organization. The key to a successful compliance program will be how well you can integrate compliance procedures into every facet of your brand.

2. Hasbro Recalls 1 Million Easy Bake Ovens

You have found that perfect Christmas gift for your little ones. One that will create all those cute little memories that you will hold onto for a lifetime. Then, a cry for help as their hand is stuck inside the toy under the element, causing some serious injury. Quite far from a ‘Merry’ Christmas… Hasbro was in deep with over 1 million easy bake ovens that were recalled and over 77 reports of injury, and a report of one five year old being burnt so terribly that a partial finger amputation was needed.

What should have been done differently?

There was a finger entrapment test that was developed under the ASTM F963 as an industrial standard, but which only came into regulation in 2013 under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Currently, all toys and children’s products need to be designed to comply with this ASTM F963 standard. Retailers should be requesting that their manufacturers and suppliers need to be testing in compliance with this regulation, and have to be passed through an accredited third party lab before mass production can begin. In meeting this criteria, there will also have to be a double check; either during inspection or through the lab with a random sample that is picked during the inspection process. Procedures like this help to minimize potential risk and recall of a noncompliant product.

3. Sony To Pay $19 Million Dollars in Battery Recall

Exploding Dell notebooks with non-compliant Sony batteries. A match made in retail hell. 4.1 million batteries in Dell notebooks needed to be recalled for overheating and potentially catching fire. Research says that this was due to metallic particles being present in the critical parts of the batteries, at certain times causing instability in the battery. These batteries were not only used in Dell computers, but other brands like Apple as well, so they recalled over 10 million batteries in total. Sony has recently agreed to pay $19 million dollars as settlements to this ongoing lawsuit.

What could have been done differently?

It has been said that the reason for this potential hazard was due to the presence of metallic particles, in the battery, in particular; nickel was found in these batteries. It unexpectedly got into the battery during the manufacturing process during two stages of the production process. Here we can assess that the factory’s quality systems should have been reviewed and as to whether or not their QC team followed best practice in identifying potential defects. There may have been bad storage practices causing a mix up between defective products and good one’s. Compliance issues - Sony battery recall A root-cause analysis would have been needed to adjust the production line to fix the problem. Once this analysis is completed and amendments made by the retailer, a third party representative would need to validate the preventative and corrective action for the defect. Factory audits can be an essential to safeguarding against product defects and recalls. Practice due diligence here, ensure your quality control team is on top form and up to date with the latest in testing and regulation.

4. Fidget Spinners – Over 200 000 Have Been Recalled!

The latest craze amongst children all over the world. The invention was originally intended to improve fine motor skills in children with learning disabilities, but grew in its popularity faster than what one could even blink. Compliane issues - Fidget spinner.jpg In fact, the inventor today does not get a dime out of the sales of this popular children’s toy, as she was told her idea was not good enough and wouldn’t sell. Needless to say, millions of these toys are sold the world over. But, she could count that as somewhat of a blessing… Recently, over 200, 000 of them had to be recalled as they caused major harm to many children, with fingers getting stuck in the outer bearings to smaller parts being swallowed, where surgery was needed.

What could have been done differently?

This toy is specific in the types of international regulation and compliance that it needs to meet, but not many retailers can provide the necessary compliance documentation for this product. It has been urged to rather seek out the compliant toys with all the necessary risk and warning labels on them. As per international standard for general toys, it is required to drop this toy a few times only. This dropping of the toy often does not take into consideration just how often children drop these spinners. These spinners are dropped multiple times a day by end users, so this test in fact may not represent an adequate simulation. A factory should be creating tough testing procedures to simulate the type of environment this toy will likely be exposed to. These tests need to go beyond the standard testing criteria to ensure a durable, safe spinner is found in your children’s hands. Apart from the strict QC procedures that should have been conducted, the correct lab tests should have been followed, as some spinners (the ones with batteries) were found to have high levels of lead present, posing a threat to its end consumers. The appropriate chemical tests should have been performed to identify these chemical risks early on, giving your supplier time to rework the product to meet its compliance standards.


Strict quality control procedures need to be followed. By ensuring you follow QC best practices for your product you begin to safeguard your brand, your product and even your end-consumer from a potentially bad quality product that can injure them, and cost you millions in revenue. If you are not using a third party quality provider for all your testing and compliance procedures conducting things like; pre-purchase testing and inline inspections can be key to identifying these defects early on. A bit of due diligence and strict QC procedures can go a long way in saving you the terrifying reality of product recalls and persistant compliance issues.

There are More Lessons To Be Learnt In This Case Study!

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Third-Party Quality Audit Vs. Internal Quality Audit

Maintaining the efficiency of your supply chain and overall product quality may be something that you can handle through an internal quality audit, but the questions are; – Are you really able to afford the time and resources that is constantly required to keep up with effectively measuring and managing your systems? – Are you able to conduct an objective analysis of the state of your systems? – How does doing this ensure your place in the market in the eyes of your customers? By understanding the pro’s and con’s of both conducting both an internal quality audit vs a third party quality audit, you will be able to ensure that not only your products pass the minimum compliance requirements, but that they are of the highest possible standard of quality, while also ensuring that you are streamlining your production operations to that of the highest quality. Sound like something your organisation can benefit from? Read on to discover the benefits of conducting a third party quality audit as opposed to using an in-house quality audit team here.

Are you up to date with all of the latest in product regulations?

The supply and demand of our current global retail landscape means that there is always a need to be up to date with the changes in product regulation.

Third party quality Audit

A third party quality provider has access to resources through associations and a network of online cloud-based systems that enable them to keep up to date with the latest in product regulations. Access to a network like this is a key part of their service offering, this is what will distinguish a good quality external service provider. Capabilities like this are able to streamline your operations which can assist you in getting your product to the market faster, allowing you to stay on top of the supply and demand pressures that are felt in the marketplace. However, when conducting a third party quality audit, you will need to ensure that the auditors you choose specialize in your specific product category, by doing this you will ensure that they are up to date with the most relevant product and regulation information. Let’s take the global fidget spinner craze; this children’s toy  hit the shelves faster than what the market could blink. Third party quality inspection services - fidget spinner It turns out that over 200 000 of these had to be recalled due to procedural non-compliance as well as the product having critical defects; meaning that this product may cause injury or harm to its end consumer. A third party quality auditor would be able to provide you with an unbiased inspection report, including the above information, thus protecting your brand from damage and product recalls that can become extremely costly.

Internal quality audit

Reliability is key. Is your internal staff able to spend the time they need ensuring that they understand all of the relevant product information that you need? While your organization may have the know-how, you likely do not have the resources or capacity to dedicate someone to ensure they are well researched into the latest regulations that are required. third party quality inspection services - geographical networksMany organizations do not have the extensive geographical networks that larger retailers have. Therefore your internal staff ends up spending a lot of time traveling for quality control inspections, with not enough time spent focusing on the quality of a product. This often slows down production processes, with a longer eventual time to market. If we take the Fidget Spinner example into consideration, what is the likelihood of your in-house team being aware of that noncompliance before it hit the market. Think about it. An occurrence such as the above puts your brand at an unnecessary risk, with the potential for bad publicity and a major loss in sales. Can your organization afford this?

Do you have all of the technical expertise?

Product technical expertise and extensive testing and inspection experience is an undervalued commodity in the retail supply chain, how can you begin to leverage it to your advantage?

Third party

An external quality provider can provide you with an extensive network of technical expertise relating to your product and your quality systems, from factory audits to inspection and testing equipment and any specific techniques that may be needed to ensure that you meet your product’s compliance. third party quality inspection services - technological networkSome testing equipment may be unique to a specific product or if there is an update in testing procedures to be inclusive of recent changes in regulation. Often external providers are able to provide technical solutions based on the above specifications, along with teams that are well versed in new testing procedures. External providers will often send their inspectors on training to familiarize themselves with new equipment and testing procedures to ensure a high quality service is offered with a minimum product recall rate. For third party quality providers it is a priority to be up to date with the latest trends and developments in your industry along with the best practices that you should be following. This kind of knowledge and expertise can be leveraged to your competitive advantage.

In-house quality

While your in-house team may have the knowledge about the inner workings of your product and your ideal quality procedures, the reality is that it may not always be enough. Keeping up to date and monitoring the latest in standard and regulation requires a lot of resources, whilst there is also the challenge in maintaining and ensuring all documentation is updated properly, which is often not the case. This limited amount of resources can create unnecessarily complex procedures, that pile up to the sky, but that could have been avoided through a lot of strategic planning and structure. This is often not a strong suit for many smaller organizations. The key is to knowing your strengths and focus on them for your organization’s growth.

Appropriate technology for high quality procedures

Using appropriate technology that enables you to track your operational progress and things like your product inspection reports are essential to streamlining your quality operations.

Third party

It is essential for third party quality providers to have adequate and appropriate platforms in place to manage their clients quality systems effectively. These platforms also need to be capable of recording and tracking all data properly as well as manage certain aspects of documentation and communication. This technology provides thorough data, allowing you insights into your supply chain that would otherwise not have been available. This data can be leveraged into strategies for your brand, from risk mitigation to inventory management, to the way in which you conduct product tests in your lab and the kinds of inspection reports that are being produced. It needs to provide valuable and actionable insight so that you can optimize your quality systems for greater efficiency, which should lead you to a higher production rate and a faster time to market for third party quality inspection - TCF solutionyour product. Add all of this together, and you begin to see higher profit margins and the ability in which you can meet your products supply and demand will also have grown, creating that desired competitive advantage. Let’s take a brief look at the Technical Compliance File solution; This is a compliance solution that allows you reliable and accurate insights into your compliance processes. It is offered through a web-based platform and is a one-stop shop for all of your compliance documents, with real time updates and 24/7 access and insight. This kind of technology allows your organization more focus, control and insight.

In-house quality

Having up to date technologies or systems might be challenging because in-house quality teams still rely heavily on manual entry spreadsheets, which creates far too much room for human error. Skewed data can have far reaching implications for your quality systems, which can often build up into product recalls and financial losses for your brand. There is often the debate about the costliness of software. Now, while this is a valid argument, especially for SME’s trying to keep head above water which is often the only priority, it is suggested to consider slowly integrating technology into your quality systems to begin streamlining your procedures for greater efficiency One of biggest challenges is to manage all technical documentation systemically. It is important to remember that the authorities have the right to access the technical file which is meant to contain a full set of technical documents. Some retailers try to collect this technical documentation through in-house team, but often it is a bit of a mess due to various industrial norms such as;
  • The manufacturer changes the materials from time to time because they found a cheaper price elsewhere
  • The buyer will customize products that are being ordered to make it unique and at a higher market value
  • Most test reports expire a year later, so often documentation is either expired or non-existent.
Therefore an in-house team will have to keep chasing suppliers to provide all the valid documentation and at the same time they are under internal pressure from the merchandising team to release the shipment.

streamlining your shipment release process

Navigating the waters of international logistics is nothing short of a small miracle to get through without the domino effect of nightmares that occur along the way. Your shipments getting stuck in customs due to incorrect documentation creates a series of delays for the rest of your operation.

Third party

Working with a third party quality provider that is able to play a key role in the shipment release process can help avoid having to navigate this web of complex logistics by yourself. third party quality inspection servicesInspection reports are essential in getting shipments released from customs. It will be up to the retailer alongside your quality provider to set up a report rating guideline. This report rating guideline forms a baseline of automation which reduces the amount of manual changes after the reports review. The manual reviewing of these reports slow down the auto shipment processes immensely and this entire process becomes less meaningful. An external quality provider will be able to provide you with industry knowledge and best practices relating to rating reports. You will also be able customize your rating reports according to your product needs. Once this report rating has been created, your quality provider can utilize their technical systems to send daily reports to both the client and your chosen cargo company. This creates a much clearer and faster release process for both you and the cargo company. The mountain of paperwork from import licenses to full inspection reports, they have it down to a tee, enabling a streamlined, efficient process for your organization.

In-house quality

How often have you had a shipment stuck only to be told that you don’t have the correct paperwork? Thrd party quality inspection services - customs paperworkTraditionally an inhouse team often releases inspection reports as and when they receive them causing major delays, this is often due to in-house QC teams needing to travel extensively, which means they don’t have enough time to make the approvals that are needed for the shipments to be released in a timely manner. Not to sound repetitive, but to have an in-house team that has the capacity to manage the logistics involved with shipping would be a dream, no doubt, but getting through customs safely stems from being efficient in all the other points I’ve made above. In-house teams without the right amount of time, resources and technical expertise will struggle to cope with issues that could have otherwise been prevented. So here’s the deal… Managing quality is a complex system that needs 100% of your attention and focus. Are you able to dedicate that kind of time and resource to ensuring just that? This is a question that many often do not want to answer, but the reality is that you often cannot afford the time and resource that goes into creating fully optimized quality systems that can produce high-quality products for your brand and on time. So, what then? It might be worth considering hiring an external third party quality provider that can give you the time and resources that you need to streamline your supply chain operations. A third party quality provider is able to provide you with; * The latest in product regulation * Technical expertise * They have the appropriate technology to streamline your operations * They have the know how on how to navigate the waters of international logistics for your brand. This will give you room to begin focusing on what you are good at; producing those high-quality products and creating a level of trust with your consumer that is globally competitive. Have experienced working with third party quality inspection services?