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The Pre-Shipment Inspection Procedure

Jul 2020
Nikolay Pasholok
Product Owner, Calcurates
Whether you are a supplier, importer, or online seller, one key element in maintaining your product quality is pre-shipment inspection (PSI). These examinations take place before shipping to ascertain the quality, quantity, and volumetric size of newly manufactured goods.

Specially trained inspectors can arrange it at any stage: at the manufacturer’s warehouse, when the importer receives the items, or when the supplier prepares the final shipment for sale.

The procedure is simple, but there are a good many subtle points. Let’s find out how PSI can propel your business beyond the competition and save you money.

What Is Pre-Shipment Inspection?

Pre-shipment inspection is a step in freight shipping that allows you to fix any issues without receiving and paying for the product; since inspectors examine items before shipping, you can hold the final payment until you get the report. These procedures only occur once 100% of the ordered units are produced and 80% are packed to eliminate the risk of only checking cherry-picked samples.

Agencies that secure PSI are certified following the Agreement on Pre-Shipment Inspection, introduced by the World Trade Organization in 1994.

The bulk of the regulations was created with developing countries in mind, but the guidelines are universally used to this day.

  • The procedure should be non-discriminatory.
  • No pre-shipment investigations should lead to delays.
  • Pre-shipment inspection should be transparent.
  • All sensitive commercial and business information should be protected during the procedure.
  • There should be no conflict of interest between the agency, the production company under examination, and the client.
  • The price of the inspected goods should not be unjustifiably higher or lower than the market average.
  • Appeals can be filed under the rules of the Agreement.
  • Inspections are not provided for shipments below the minimal value established by the agency (each agency can set its own minimal values for different categories of products).

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The Main Steps of the Pre-Shipment Inspection Procedure

When there are no complications, pre-shipment inspections are generally straightforward.

Order placement

Although some categories, like medical equipment, require inspections, it is an optional step in the shipment process for most of the common goods. Usually, such a check is ordered by a client who wants to have better quality control over his products.

Inspector on site

When there are no complications, pre-shipment inspections are generally straightforward.

Order placement

The shipment inspection takes place at the manufacturer’s or supplier’s warehouse or production house. Off-site inspections can be arranged only for items that require special handling, such as toxic substances.

Quantity check

The agent makes sure that the number of boxes and items is correct and also verifies the destination and the integrity of the boxes.

Randomized sampling

To ensure the whole batch is of good quality, the inspector picks several items at random using the ANSI/ASQC Z1.4 (ISO 2859-1) statistical sampling procedure. The number of things he picks (the Acceptance Quality Limit or AQL) is usually defined in the contract between the manufacturer or importer and the client.

Visual check

This includes looking at both potential mechanical damage and flaws in the production (e.g., missing screws or gaps between the parts).

Volumetric verification

Next, the inspector compares all the physical attributes (height, width, length, color, weight, markings, and labeling) with the client’s specified ones.

Functionality verification

Items are then tested to make sure that there are no functional defects.

Safety test

One of the most critical stages in the pre-shipment inspection, especially when the shipment in question has electronic products, is safety testing. This step consists of two parts: checks for mechanical safety and for electrical safety.

The first step shows any mechanical hazards, like sharp edges or moving parts, that are stuck and can cause accidents. The latter is more complex and is rarely done on-site since electrical testing requires laboratory-grade equipment and conditions.

During the electrical safety inspection, experts test electronic products in search of hazards like gaps in ground continuity or faults of the power elements. Inspectors also check the certification labeling (UL, CE, BSI, CSA, etc.) for the destination market and ensure all electronic parts are up to standard.

Inspection report

Finally, all the information is gathered into an inspection report listing all the failed and passed tests, relevant findings, and optional comments from the inspector. This report can be used in the case of any disputes with the manufacturer.

Pre-Shipment Inspections in E-Commerce

As an e-commerce entrepreneur, when you grow out of simple dropshipping models and begin working with manufacturers and importers directly, pre-shipment inspections become a must-have routine.

It is gigantic work: managing all the inspections, keeping track of all the shipments, dealing with stock, and working with multiple carriers while offering a wide array of shipping options. Ease the burden by using the Calcurates shipping extension for Magento 2.

Having configured Calcurates once, you can forget about updating shipping prices, dealing with categories of products that require special handling, and guaranteeing your clients get all the tracking information on their purchases since the extension does all that automatically for you.

Try Calcurates for free today.

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