Auditing factories might seem like an easy job, but it isn’t as simple as it seems to those who haven’t been through the experience. In fact, factory auditing can be quite difficult if you’re not careful, and it’s vital that you recognize the seven most common challenges before getting started so that you don’t fall victim to them yourself. Here are those challenges to consider, along with advice on how to avoid them.
1) Factories are hard to get into
Supplier factory audit is not an easy task for factory auditors. It takes a lot of time, effort, and patience to gain access to many factories. One way that auditors can gain quick access into a factory is by getting in touch with people who are already working in that particular factory. Although it is one of their main duties, I would say that there are at least nine different challenges that need to be faced by factory auditors in order to do their job properly.
2) Factories will not let you look around
It’s a security issue for them, and they know it. You’re a stranger who showed up on their doorstep, asking to see how they do business, and that just won’t fly. It’s okay—factory auditing is not always about sneaking around or breaking into areas you don’t belong in. Sometimes, all you need to do is get an employee on your side to show you around once production has ended for the day.
3) Factory conditions are bad
Factories are widely known to be one of the worst places to work, despite the fact that they were meant to act as better alternatives for workers. First, it’s important to know what makes factory working conditions so bad. At best, workers in these conditions experience injuries and health complications that can impede production and lead to lost wages. Worst-case scenarios include child labor and physical abuse against employees for insignificant reasons. The environmental factors aren’t much better either; factory waste often ends up in local water supplies when run-off isn’t cleaned up correctly. Safety is another concern when you factor in chemical waste products like lead or asbestos which can cause cancer or lung disease when airborne particles are inhaled.
4) Quality control is lacking
Quality control is perhaps one of your biggest challenges as a factory auditor. You can expect to face everything from defective products, poor workmanship, and damaged packaging. Even worse are those companies who aren’t even aware of their mistakes. Luckily, there are ways you can deal with bad quality control issues like return policies and two-way communication with all stakeholders involved in production processes.
5) Factory staff might cause trouble
Most factory auditing firms need to bring an interpreter with them when visiting a new factory. It’s common for factory staff to be wary of outsiders, especially if they are not used to foreigners coming by regularly. Even if you’re there with good intentions, your presence can still be considered threatening. You need an interpreter or guide on hand to make sure you don’t offend anyone accidentally, either through language barriers or ignorance of local customs and norms. Another way around possible trouble is to offer gifts of food or other items as thank-you tokens during your first few visits. There’s no way it won’t improve working relationships.
6) Factory production data is not available
The data you need to perform factory audits is often available at lower levels within a supply chain or distribution network. You just have to know where to look and how to gather it into one place. For example, if you’re auditing a supplier in China, you might find what you need with relatively little effort through Alibaba. If your business is in Europe, you could use data from manufacturers’ associations like SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) and SEDEX (Supply Chain Exchange). Or in some cases, specific manufacturers make their own data available.
7) Factories do not listen to audits
When a factory is audited by Inspection company in China, it’s usually because there’s been a problem. This can be anything from excessive overtime to failure to comply with ISO standards. Although factory auditors don’t often get thanked for identifying and reporting problems, they actually improve working conditions on-site—and that’s really what matters most in their job.