Pre-shipment Inspection (PSI)
A pre-shipment inspection (also written as pre shipment inspection) is a random inspection comprising an in depth inspection of finished products before shipment.It is generally performed at vendor premises or at the loading point on samples randomly selected according to the agreed statistical sampling procedure or otherwise agreed together with the customer. The inspection criteria should cover:
- type identification,
- product conformity,
- safety, function,
- marking and safety criteria,
- quality (workmanship),
- completeness and
- compliance with the agreed specification.
What kind of inspection is best for your needs?
Initial Production Inspection (IPI): The objective of an Initial Production Inspection, or Pre Production Inspection (PPI), is to identify defective materials or components prior to the production process, thereby minimizing the risk of non-conformities and allowing for timely corrections where necessary.
During Production Inspection (DUPRO or DPI): The During Production Inspection (DUPRO or DPI), or In-line Product Inspection (IPI), checks semi-finished or finished goods part-way through the production process. Generally, this takes place when between 40% of your order has been produced and 20% export-packed. Doing so improves your control over production and allows for timely correction of defects and improvements to quality.
Final Random Inspection (FRI): It ensures that the production complies with your specifications and/or the terms of your purchase order or letter of credit. The Final Random Inspection (FRI), or Pre Shipment Inspection (PSI), checks finished products when at least 80% of your order has been produced and export-packed. Samples are selected at random, according to standards and procedures.
What is AQL ?
In certain product categories, there will be defective products in virtually every production batch.
It is obvious after the manufacturer has checked each product and has repaired the defective ones since visual inspection is not 100% reliable.
Therefore, in many supplier/buyer relationships the supplier is not expected to deliver defect-free goods. Thus the buyer needs to check the quality of purchased goods since they don’t want defects more than expected.
The “AQL tables” are statistical tools at the disposal of buyers for product inspections and it is an industry standard which most suppliers involved in international trade are familiar with.
They help to determine two key elements:
- How many samples should be picked and inspected, among a batch of product or parts.
- Where is the limit between acceptability and refusal, when it comes to defective products.
Importers usually set different AQLs for critical, major, and minor defects.
In practice, three types of defects are distinguished. For most consumer goods, the limits are:
- 0% for critical defects (totally unacceptable: a user might get harmed, or regulations are not respected).
- 5% for major defects (these products would usually not be considered acceptable by the end user).
- 0% for minor defects (there is some departure from specifications, but most users would not mind it).
These proportions vary in function of the product and its market.
This AQL tool is used mostly during final outgoing inspections when the products are ready to be shipped out and sometimes during production when the number of products is sufficient to have an idea of the batch’s average quality.
Before using the AQL tables, customers should know three parameters:
- The ‘lot size’. If you ordered different products, the quantity of each product is a lot size, and it is advised to perform separate inspections for each lot. If you ordered only one product, the lot size is the total batch quantity.
- The inspection level. Different inspection levels will command different numbers of samples to inspect.
- The AQL level appropriate for your market. If your customers accept very few defects, you might want to set a lower AQL for both major and minor defects.
There are basically two tables. The first table shows which ‘code letter’ to use. Then this code letter will show the sample size and the maximum numbers of defects that can be accepted.
First table: sample size code letters
Let’s assume the ‘lot size’ is between 3,201 pieces and 10,000 pieces, and that inspection level is ‘II’. Consequently, the code letter shall be “L”.
Second table: single sampling plans for level II inspection (normal severity)
The code letter is “L”, so inspector will have to draw 200 pieces randomly from the total lot size.
Besides, assuming client has set the AQL at 2.5% for major defects and 4.0% for minor defects.
Thus the limits are: the products are accepted if NO MORE than 10 products with major defects AND NO MORE than 14 products with minor defects are found.
For example, if inspector finds 15 products with major defects and 12 products with minor defects, the products should be refused.
If inspector finds 3 with major defects and 7 with minor defects, the products should be accepted.
The number of defective products is only one of the criteria. It is sometimes called “quality”, or “quality findings”.
Other criteria are usually on the inspector’s checklist, which typically includes:
- Packaging conformity such as barcodes, packing details, cartons, shipping marks, etc.
- Product conformity like aspect, workmanship, etc. For example if all the products are in burgundy colour instead of red then there is no need to count each sample as a defect. It makes more sense to refuse for product conformity.
- Specific tests defined in the inspection checklist (they might not be performed on all inspected samples if they are time-consuming or destructive).
FAQ About AQL
This is not standard practice. The standard practice is actually to charge nothing back, as long as the inspection is passed. But then, if the inspection is failed, the supplier has to sort & rework the goods, and submit them to a new inspection (and the re-inspection costs are charged back to them).
In theory no. That’s why the AQL was renamed, from “acceptable quality level” to “acceptance quality limit”. It is a “limit” (and a loose one at that).
The ISO 2859 standard says:
“Although individual lots with quality as bad as the acceptance quality limit may be accepted with fairly high probability, the designation of an acceptance quality limit does not suggest that this is a desirable quality level. Sampling schemes […] are designed to encourage suppliers to have process averages consistently better than the AQL.”
The statisticians tell us it is not that simple. As we go up in the total quantity, the proportion of products checked can decrease, for the same confidence in the inspection results. The number of samples to check increases at a slower pace than the total quantity.
It depends on your distribution channel and your product’s end use. Note that your supplier might refuse AQL limits they estimate as too tight (i.e. too low).
It is true. In our example above, 2.5% of 200 samples is 5 samples, but we accept the goods even if 10 samples are found with a major defect.
There are heavy statistics behind this issue. To keep it simple, the manufacturer’s risk is his risk of rejection (based on the random element when drawing the sample) even though his products (if they were all checked) would be accepted. That risk is about 5% in this standard. And along the same logic, there is a consumer’s risk and it is around 10%. As you can see, this standard is favorable to the manufacturer’s side.
No. They are mere parameters that were thought to be applicable to most situations. Their number was kept down for the sake of simplicity (when inspectors had to look up the tables in paper form).
There are several limits:
- An AQL limit is a target rather than a maximum. The buyer might have a nasty surprise when receiving a batch of products that “passed” the inspection.
- A statistical QC approach does nothing to reduce the defects in the first place.
Because Inspection’s dedicated coordinators can suggest you which Level should be more suitable to your products thus it will help you to decide the batch size by suggesting the best practice and it reduces the inspection cost to our clients.
Quality of a product is a main concern of many retailers and customers. The increasingly complex regulation and quality issue is putting pressure on hardline products.
In addition, a wide range of products are also required to comply with international standards and regulations.
Our inspection services for Hardline items, including but not limited to, product safety testing, defective product evaluation services and consultation, can result in promoting quality and preventing complaints and recalls from customers.
Under our expertise, you will be confident that regulatory requirements are being handled professionally.
- Kitchen and Cookware
- Gift and Premium
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- Household & Decorative Accessories
- Electrical and Electronic Testing
- Luggage and Accessories
- Small Home Appliances
- Office Supplies / School supplies
INSPECTION performs softline testing & inspection services on items ranging from fabric samples to finished products such as pajamas, sweaters, jeans, outerwear, footwear and home furnishing textiles including bedding, curtains, furniture fabric, rugs, etc.
We help ensure our customers meet consumer requirements for high quality, minimize reputational risk, reduce environmental issues and protect the rights of retailers, brands, textile manufacturers and consumer safety.
Our tailor-made Softline Inspection services provides our clients to ensure the safety and quality of their purchased products.
The following product categories can be inspected by Inspection’s experienced staff:
- Fashion Accessories
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Soft Home Furnishings