Incoming Inspection - Do you need it?


I have worked at a company that had no incoming receiving inspection. It was a major tier 1 auto supplier.
I worked at a safety non automotive company that did incoming receiving inspection.

The automotive company followed robust automotive processes and expected all suppliers to send in parts that meet print. These suppliers were managed by multiple SQEs with PPAPs, audits, etc.

The non automotive company also had SQEs but they still thought there was value in incoming receiving. And these suppliers were not of automotive supply chain for the most part.

In my current role as a QA Manager and another company (a private US appliance manufacturer) we do not have incoming receiving for the most part. There are some ASME certified product that we produce that requires it. Other than that we do not conduct incoming receiving.

There is chatter on occasion from different engineers and upper management that seem to want incoming inspection on some level. I personally think we need robust qualifications with our supply base to ensure they have systems to control their quality and key characteristics. We have an SQE and will likely add another as we become less vertically integrated.

I am a non incoming inspection type of QA manager. This is likely because that is how I was initially trained at my first company. Also, I havent worked in a manufacturing company that had safety or other very very high risk factors with supplied components.

Others have different opinions. In fact, I asked a third party ISO auditor trainer about his experiences at other manufacturers. He said almost everyone has incoming inspection. And he felt it was a standard process.

I still believe that you dont inspect quality into incoming components. Exception would be for recent quality spills that require containment.

Love to hear different feedback or agreements.


Trusted Information Resource
I think it would depend on the supplier. Good ones don't need it. Bad ones do. We have been dock to stock with our major customers for decades because we have very few if any problems.

Given that, we still do incoming inspection on a raw material -- mainly because in the event it's out it could lead to production delays. So catching it early helps. But we know who to check hard and who we don't really need to worry about.

Ed Panek

QA RA Small Med Dev Company
Super Moderator
Part of my thinking is If I inspect a material what can I do if I reject it? Answer? not much. For this reason, I will try to push the inspection process to the supplier. If the supplier performs the inspection and finds a discrepancy they are in a much better position to do something about it.

That solves a few problems. As a consumer, I don't need to be involved. As the manufacturer, they can determine the root cause and make changes.

Of course this is idealism thinking. Reality is more complicated.


Not out of the crisis
Super Moderator
As with most things this isn't a simple Yes or No answer.
Depends on your business, the quality of your suppliers and how robust their process controls are, and the risk to you and your customers of accepting bad parts occasionally.
I put risk first;
If I'm making a drug product you bet I'm going to test the ingredients on receipt and I'm going to inspect any purchased labeling. For packaging I may just check the material certs, not the actual product unless there has been a problem in the past.
When I did medical device and worked mostly with sheet metal we'd check material certs and measure the thickness to confirm.
In general manufacturing where there is no life or health on the line... I'd have have a robust dock to stock system and if a supplier can't make it to the Dock to Stock level (typically 3 good inspections in a row), then they may not be the right supplier for that product.


Forum Moderator
Another thing to consider is whether your receiving inspection is likely to detect any defects. If your suppliers are running at a high level of defects, you can realistically expect to catch some of the lots, but if they are running a low level of defects, you have virtually no chance of catching them.

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Obviously, the end goal is to have suppliers that are so reliable and trustworthy that incoming inspection would be a non value added activity and, thus, could be skipped.

In most scenarios that I am familiar with, though, product life cycles are getting shorter and shorter and new products, with new outsourced componentry hits production lines at a fast pace. Even suppliers are subject to business disruption dynamics and a perfectly reliable vendor one week might give you headaches the following one.

At the end of the day, it is exactly what Mike S. mentioned: it is a risk/reward assessment. But never forgetting that it is a DYNAMIC assessment and not stale. Things shift at your supply chain constantly and a decision to bypass incoming inspection or not should never be a dogma.
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