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SATRA Certified Quality Inspection

The extended supply chain between manufacturer and consumers is an integral part of today’s footwear industry, and creates many challenges for brand owners and sourcing companies – particularly relating to checking and controlling product quality.

SATRA is increasingly being approached to arbitrate in disputes between manufacturers and purchasers regarding quality. We have recognised this increased demand and are responding with a new service that is designed to improve and control aspects of the manufacturing process – and, consequently, the quality of the product. It will also demonstrate that these are controlled and documented in a satisfactory manner.

This new service, called SATRA Certified Quality Inspection, is intended to complement our industry-wide recognised services for leather grading training and in-house laboratory accreditation. It will be equally

valuable for factories manufacturing for several brand owners or retailers, and for brand owners or retailers trying to source from different factories to a consistent quality standard.

Although to a certain extent good quality is designed into a product, footwear manufacturing is a complicated process where many things can go wrong. In terms of efficiency, and to minimise wastage and rejects, any visually defective components should be removed from the shoemaking process as soon as the in-line operatives notice them.

While this does happen in many factories, it is often supplemented by fixed inspection stages, as well as 100 per cent final inspection prior to shipping. From a customer’s perspective, it is most important that this activity be carried out on all production batches, with traceable documentation. Quality reports are of little value if they are not traceable back to the actual batch of products supplied to individual distributors and retailers.

Setting the standard

Identifying and removing obviously defective products is relatively easy. However, it is essential that inspectors have agreed quality standards and a defect catalogue to work to. This should be comprehensive and ideally include illustrations, physical examples and photographs of acceptable products, as well as common defects.

Colour swatches of materials and ‘colour windows’ for leathers also enable a consistent approach. The leather colour windows should have examples of the lightest and darkest acceptable swatches, as well as the heaviest and lightest grain standard for leathers with a distinct grain. These quality standards need establishing, regardless of whether inspection is in-house or contracted to a third party.

What is involved?

As part of the process, SATRA will:

  • evaluate the inspection area for suitability, particularly with respect to light and organisation
  • check the inspection standard is appropriate (or work with the company to develop one)
  • provide training where necessary
  • carry out inspection audits and check the competence of individual inspectors
  • issue the company with a SATRA Certified Quality Inspection certificate and provide individual certificates to inspectors considered competent.

The most important aspect of this standard is that it is fully understood and agreed by all necessary parties in the supply chain. Factories producing for several customers will need to agree a standard with each of them.

SATRA can advise on initial inspection systems, establishing standards and training and auditing staff. Typically, a SATRA consultant will visit a factory to evaluate the current procedures and suggest improvements. After a period of operation, the inspection activities are audited and, if found satisfactory, a factory certificate is issued. In addition, individual inspection staff that have shown consistency and competency in the standard and procedures are awarded individual certificates.

Certification remains valid for a year and is then subject to annual reassessment. This certification is only for SATRA members, and is not available to commercial inspection organisations.

Our certification recognises that the company and its quality inspection personnel fully understand and can apply the standard relating to a specific customer. It may be necessary to audit and accredit the company and people for each customer to which they deliver.

How can we help?

Please contact systems@satra.com for further information on the SATRA Certified Quality Inspection service.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 44 of the November 2017 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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