Defining PSI Inspection

Pre-Shipment Inspection or PSI inspection is when the manufactured products are selected randomly from batches and are inspected systematically. This pre-shipment testing is usually done when the production is 100% complete and 80% packed.

PSI Inspection is a mandatory and effective tool to ensure that acceptable quality level standards and specific customer requirements are adhered to. Such product inspections are often done by a pre-shipment inspector who tests the products and makes a final report based on the pre-shipment inspection checklist.

Some key objectives of the pre-shipment inspection procedure are the following:

  • To determine product defect types and get an idea of the percentage of products that may have these issues.
  • To ensure that the product meets the set quality requirements.
  •  To check if the working of the product is up to the mark.
  • As a means of final check of the shipping labels, the packing and other product information.

This pre-shipment procedure was introduced in 1994 as part of an official agreement to improve international trade standards under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). It was later replaced by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The “Agreement on Pre-Shipment Inspection,” details the principles that should always be applied to the inspections–non-discrimination, price verification and protection of confidentiality to name a few.

The pre-shipment procedure has 7 important steps:

Step 1 – Onsite Inspection

Onsite inspections, as the name suggests, are inspections that are carried out ‘onsite or at the factory premises.  But, when restricted or regulated toxic chemicals or dyes are involved, the pre-shipment inspectors can request that lab testing be done for these products offsite in other facilities equipped for handling the chemicals.

Global businesses are always at risk of quality issues that could arise from manufacturing defects. Such errors can be detected before the shipment during a comprehensive onsite inspection where the inspector is required to visit the manufacturer onsite at the warehouse or production house. During this step, the inspector will use statistical sampling methods to select a sample for checking, and this particular number will also be noted in the quality report.

Step 2 – Verification of Quantity

The second step of the pre-shipment testing is the verification of quantity to make sure that the number of boxes or items ready for shipment is correct. In this step, the inspectors count the cartons so that only the correct number of products and boxes are sent to the shipping destination. The inspectors will also ensure that correct packing materials are being used in all cartons to ensure safe transportation.

PSI inspections are a cost-effective method to reduce risks that could occur from compliance or delays. Checking and verifying the quantity in the pre-shipment stage can help save money, effort and resources that can happen if the right number of boxes or products agreed upon are not shipped. As this can be problematic for both the company as well as the customers.

Step 3 – Choose product samples

A detailed pre-shipment procedure is integral in several industries including manufacturing and retail to steer clear of expensive import risks, low-quality products reaching the customers, or even huge wastages from product recalls. The third step in the pre-shipment inspection procedure is the selection of product samples.

Internationally recognized statistical sampling methods are used to select the samples from the batches for quality inspection. The defects of any of the selected samples are then compared to an Acceptance Quality Limit before being rejected.

Step 4 – Workmanship verification

A product’s workmanship is like a stamp of quality or like a unique promise from the manufacturer as to how it is different from competitor products. The fourth step of the pre-shipment procedure is the verification of workmanship. The inspector in charge of the quality testing checks the product visually for any defects or issues in the overall workmanship.

The immediately visible defects seen in the randomly selected sample are then classified as minor, major, or critical when compared to predetermined acceptable tolerance levels. These predefined levels are decided by the manufacturer and supplier in the product development stage. Overlooking workmanship issues can be damaging to the company or manufacturer’s reputation in the long run.

Step 5 – Function, Mechanical & Electrical Safety Testing

The fifth step of the PSI inspection involves the conformity verification of the products. The product’s functionality is tested to ensure that there aren’t any functional defects. Physical tests can be performed on the products to determine their strength. Some products may require detailed electrical and mechanical safety testing as well.

Mechanical safety tests are necessary for products with moving parts as these can cause potential harm to the users if not tested properly. The critical parts of the products like screws or hinges are checked in this step. Electrical safety tests are done on electronic products to ensure that the widely accepted safety regulations are adhered to. High voltage tests, leakage current tests, insulation resistance tests, or ground continuity tests are some such tests.

Step 6 – Labelling Phase

In the sixth step of the pre-shipment inspection procedure, the quality control inspector does a quality check of the product labels. This is done to ensure that the sizes specified correspond with the product dimensions and the labels. In the case of electrical or electronic products, there are some country-specific labeling and markings that need to be strictly followed.

UL Certification Mark, CE Marking (USA), VDE (Germany), CSA (Canada), BSI (UK), or the CCC Mark (China) are some such country-specific markings used. Thorough verification of the labels make sure that duplicate or fraudulent products don’t get to the hands or the customers.

Step 7 – Final Inspection Reporting

The last step of the pre-shipment procedure is the final inspection reporting. Once the quality testing is done a report is drawn up with an overview of the findings, the inspection details along with the quality pass or fail result. Certain pre-shipment reports will include images of the inspection points, so the defects seen are recorded. The inspection report is then sent to the clients so further steps can be taken to rectify the errors or initiate product recalls in serious cases.

All members involved in the supply chain from the suppliers and importers to sellers are responsible for maintaining product quality and ensuring customer satisfaction. PSI Inspections are an important tool especially for importers or manufacturers to protect their investments. Some well-established third-party inspection companies like Global Inspection Managing can also handle this important pre-shipment function for you before your products leave the factory.