Product Inspection and Quality Control - A Saga Across Two Continents
Quality is critically important to us at Onli Travel. It starts with design and materials selection. The more clearly and thoughtfully designed the product is, the better job the factory can do in sewing a superb product. We went through 8 prototypes to get our design exactly right. And, if the right components and materials are used (for example, we use all YKK zippers, and Trimmers wheels and handles, as well as tough water-resistant and abrasion-resistant fabrics), quality can be built in from the start.
But, you still have to look at the product and see! Before our product arrived in the United States, we hired an independent quality control inspection firm to visit the factory making our products in Vietnam. They visited both when the products were being manufactured (this is called an “in-line inspection”, and catches any manufacturing problems early), and after the bags had been finished.They created a detailed report with photos and had a conference call with us from halfway around the world, despite the time zone difference, to tell us their findings. Although they only found minor issues, we went through every issue with them, and, to their credit, the factory agreed to fix everyone. (This is the value of really partnering with a quality factory, instead of just seeking the cheapest price.) Our independent quality control inspectors returned back to the factory a week later to see if the factory had correctly addressed all the issues. They had. The Asian side of the quality saga was done, and we authorized the product to be shipped.
A few months later, (after delays caused by overbooked container ships and government shutdowns!) our product finally arrived in the Port of Boston, Massachusetts. The containers were taken off the ship to our warehouse and fulfillment partner. A few days later, we went out to inspect the bags. We were ready to go through the inventory in detail!
But the best laid plans sometimes go wrong! About an hour and half into our inspection, the fire alarm in the building started to go off, forcing us to evacuate the warehouse. The culprit turned out to be a minor leak on a pipe valve that was easily fixed. However, once the problem was fixed the alarm would not turn off! And, the Fire Marshall wouldn’t allow us to remain in the building with the alarm not functioning correctly. This resulted in everybody waiting around in the parking lot for the fire alarm company to come and fix the alarm. We ended up having to go home and come back the following day.
We arrived early the next day ready to inspect the bags again. We spent approximately four minutes on each bag, checking all aspects of the bag for any problems, such as incorrectly sewn fabric, component or color problems, or other defects. About one and a half work days for our team (including much valued help from our fulfillment partner!) were spent inspecting the merchandise. We are proud to say that we didn’t reject a single bag. Our production and quality partners had done their job! The only concerns were for our backs and hands after opening all those cartons!
When you are launching a company, the design and creative process is often the fun part! But, quality is also critically important. We hope you enjoy the quality in your Onli Travel bag, if you purchase one. The quality has been designed in from the start, and double checked on two continents!