QC and Compliance for a fast growing company

controlz

Starting to get Involved
#1
Hello,

We are a fast growing business based in the UK. We currently sell over 40 different products ranging from small home appliances (fans, heaters) through to soft products such as blankets etc. The vast majority of our product range fit into CE - LVD/EMC/RoHS within Europe, and FCC/UL/ETL within the USA with a few exceptions/anomolies. Our main markets are UK, Europe and North America.

In general our products are relatively off the shelf from the Chinese factories we work with, so we rely on their certification and test reports. We have a process as follows:

- Ensure factory has all necessary testing reports and certificates for the product (based on our research and guidance from our 3rd party inspection company)
- If necessary, have new testing reports or documents created to plug any gaps.
- 3rd party agency will deconstruct a sample and cross reference it with the list of components within the testing reports to ensure the factory hasn’t changed components.
- Upon completion of an order, we will do a pre shipment inspection where product function is tested and samples are deconstructed to ensure they line up with the component list and deconstructed sample. Assuming so, we are confident it adheres to regulation.

We think it’s a pretty meticulous process, however as we grow we are keen to take even more control of our production quality. For example, we are no experts in CE/FCC etc and some of the documentation can be taken subjectively so are never 100% sure that we have identified every single regulation a product adheres to.

Likewise, we rely on certification from our factories under their own name, but we are unsure under what circumstances we require these within our name.

Our list of queries goes on, but we think it is about time we utilised some experts to help manage this - Analyse our product range and ensure all documentation is up to date, and develop a simple QC process going forward.

My question is how to approach this? Is this a role we recruit for internally, or is it too diverse for one person? Is this something we outsource to a QC company or a contractor? Any other advice will really help us move forward as we are pulling our hair out a little.

Many Thanks
ControlZ
 
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Sidney Vianna

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#2
My question is how to approach this? Is this a role we recruit for internally, or is it too diverse for one person? Is this something we outsource to a QC company or a contractor? Any other advice will really help us move forward as we are pulling our hair out a little.
Firstly, congrats on the business success.

My recommendation would be for you to engage with reputable consumer product certification organization who can give you external assurance and confidence of the product conformity. In the unlikely event of a product malfunction, and it's inherent liability exposure, having a voluntarily contracted expert organization, would probably bring you a lot of "legal goodwill",as you have demonstrated the intention to perform due diligence. Another benefit to engage an organization such as this is the fact that they keep abreast of the regulatory regime to all of the products, something that can be a challenge in itself.

Do you require the suppliers also to attain and maintain QMS certification? That could be a risk-mitigating component, as well.

Good luck.
 

controlz

Starting to get Involved
#3
Do you require the suppliers also to attain and maintain QMS certification? That could be a risk-mitigating component, as well.

Good luck.
Sidney, thanks for the prompt reply. Where possible we ensure all of our factories adhere to a QMS (I believe ISO 9000) however I am not directly involved with the factories so am not sure on the full details.

Via our factories, we have engaged in correspondence with the likes of SGS, Intertek and EMTEK China but we still find them giving differing advice. In addition, they keep requiring us to list the set of requirements we want to adhere to when in fact it is that which we require guidance for! Perhaps we would have more luck with UK based staff.

Based on the above, we have actually chosen to work with a much smaller Chinese based company (such as Asia Inspection and V-Trust) that specialise in relationships with western firms and also have their own relationships with major laboratories if we require testing. Despite having our own mandarin speaking staff, information still gets lost in translation though.
 
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hogheavenfarm

Quite Involved in Discussions
#5
Hi Controlz! A post like this will take about a week to "mature", give it some time, there are lots of well qualified people reading and thinking about it....
Welcome to the forum.
 

pkost

Trusted Information Resource
#6
i suspect that I am the sort of person you are looking for, although I work in a different sector (medical devices), I am responsible for many different products that are not really comparable and which cover many regulations including MDD, IVD, PPE, biocides, cosmetics, LVD, RoHS.

Although I don't know your products, I will guess that there is someone that is capable of filling the role for you. This person probably will not know every product in detail (I certainly don't for mine), but they should know the broad strokes of how it works, how it fits into the regulatory environment and then be able to work out the questions to ask to give you business a high level of assurance that the specification is suitable, that regulations are being complied with and that product has been manufactured to standard. Most important is that they need to be able to recognise that they don't know something and you need to accept that in these cases you may have to pay for a consultant

I suspect you will find a test house quite expensive to retain on a regular basis, although as pointed out, this will give you access to many product specialists.

Similarly a consultant is likely to be expensive, but won't be able to provide the range of expertise that a test house can provide.
 

Paul Simpson

Trusted Information Resource
#7
Hi, controlz, interesting challenge. You've been given some great advice so far. I'd be happy to discuss what you currently have and any areas of risk that might exist. As has been mentioned, specialist advice doesn't come cheap ... but just might be a great investment!
 
#8
Pkost is right.. the right person will have a broad overview of the relevant legislation and be able to apply it across a range of products. It's not so much that it's too much for one person, more that you need a very particular type of person!

Test house specialists tend to rely a lot on the customer's requirements... seems the experts who can hand-hold throughout a given certification process are few and far between these days. I would look to a specialist technical recruiter, unless you have someone in house who could be moved into the role. I'd strongly suggest keeping the role in-house though, as there will be much more benefit to the company to retain that regulatory expertise over the long term.
 
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