In June, The Wall Street Journal reported that China might keep its pandemic border restrictions for at least another year amid fears over the emergence of new Covid-19 variants, and sensitive events such as the 2022 Winter Olympics and the once-a-decade power transition within the Chinese Communist Party.
Because travel to most textile, apparel, and footwear production countries may not be possible in the foreseeable future, how to maintain quality and time to market? From established contingency plans to new strategies adopted by leading fashion brands, these four tips can help ensure quality levels when traditional on-site inspections and audits are off the table.
1. Rely on local teams
When travel restrictions prevent you from overseeing quality at your suppliers, local third-party technicians can be on-site to complement your teams. These local technicians can visit your mills and factories quickly (provided they can access the facilities) and understand their own country’s textiles, apparel, and footwear production challenges.
From assessing your supplier’s capacity and capability to managing quality from development through production to preventing mold, SgT's global network of local textile technicians and engineers can help secure your quality levels whenever you need and when your own teams cannot.
2. Adopt remote solutions
When movement is restricted, technology can be your most valuable option. Your audits and inspections can be conducted remotely via live-stream platforms on desktop, tablet, and mobile. The technician will use a laptop, tablet, or smart glasses to broadcast their actions live from the factory. This also allows you to take part in the audit and ask the supplier or technician questions and zoom in on specific elements such as defects identified during an inspection.
When domestic travel within a production country is prohibited, and not even local third-party technicians can visit your suppliers, remote solutions can help maintain quality while keeping your employees and those of your partners safe. While this doesn’t offer the same accuracy as on-site methods, the additional support can help ensure the factory is sufficiently controlling quality.
SgT’s technicians provide expert guidance throughout processes such as:
- Factory audits: technical, environmental
- Sample validations: size set, salesman, pre-production
- Product inspections at different stages of the production
3. Empower suppliers
Reliable suppliers can utilize remote quality inspections and audits with the assistance of an experienced textile technician. You can also grant more responsibility to your suppliers via self-inspections, which is when suppliers conduct their own quality inspections and share the results with their customers.
Suppliers with a laboratory in their factory can also conduct quality and performance tests on-site if certified by a third party. SgT has a factory-certified laboratories program that can, for example, help ensure a fabric mill has the proper testing and production controls for every bulk production batch.
4. Help ensure proper hygiene and working conditions
The health, safety, and working conditions of your suppliers are vital. In these uncertain times, the risk of non-compliance in some factories remains high. This can impact your production and brand reputation. Dedicated audits can help guarantee a safe and hygienic work environment during pandemic situations. For example, SgT offers a Covid-19 Precautionary Audits Program in which our CSR audit specialists evaluate these critical points:
- Health and safety, including the factory’s cleanliness, epidemic measures, hygiene practices, and emergency procedures.
- In response to increased pressure on suppliers caused by demanding production targets, the working conditions such as forced labor, disciplinary practices, working hours, compensation, and unauthorized subcontracting.
With a global network of textile quality experts present in all major textile manufacturing production countries, SgT is your partner to help you keep quality secure at all times. Explore our range of solutions to help you tackle risks before, during, and after production – even when travel is restricted:
- Textile quality inspections
- Textile technical, environmental, social audits
- Mold prevention
- On-site assistance at the development stage
- Remote solutions (inspection, audit, sample validation)
- Factory-certified auditors, laboratories
- Covid-19 precautionary audits program.
Contact our experts today to discuss solving your quality challenges when travel is restricted.