Product Inspections

Product inspections ensure the quality, compliance and safety of products through all stages of their life cycle, including manufacturing, distribution and sales. They ensure that the products meet customer expectations as well as current standards and regulations. These inspections are essential to preserve brand image, ensure customer satisfaction and protect public health.

What is a product inspection ?

Product inspection is an approach that assesses the quality, conformity and safety of products at various stages of their development. This products quality control process ensures that products meet consumer expectations, industry standards and applicable regulations.

This inspection can be carried out either by the manufacturer, by an external body, or directly by the final consumer.

Product inspections vary by timing and location. The most common types include :

  • Inspection of raw materials, which checks the quality of materials before the start of production.
  • In-production inspection (DUPRO), which evaluates the quality of products during their manufacture, typically after 20 to 80% of production is completed.
  • Pre-shipment inspection (PSI), which examines the quality of finished products prior to shipment, on a representative random sample of the lot.
  • Inspection on arrival, which controls the quality of the products upon receipt, usually by the final customer or his representative.

A typical inspection includes the following steps :

  1. Define inspection criteria including product specifications, quality requirements, sampling methods and verification protocols.
  2. Choose a competent, experienced and neutral inspector who can be either a member of the organization or an independent third party.
  3. Perform the inspection by examining the product according to the defined criteria, using appropriate tools and techniques.
  4. Write an inspection report detailing findings, including strengths, weaknesses, non-conformities and recommendations.

Product inspection is essential to ensure product quality and prevent potential problems such as product returns, complaints, recalls, disputes or sanctions. It plays a key role in building customer trust, improving brand image and competitiveness in the market.

Why is it important to go through a product inspection ?

Product inspection plays a necessary role in maintaining quality and effectively managing the supply chain. This essential step ensures that products comply with consumer expectations, industry standards and current regulations.

This process also helps eliminate quality defects and reduces the risks associated with defective products, including product returns, customer complaints, product recalls, litigation and fines.

Performing a product inspection offers many benefits to manufacturers, such as :

  • The assurance of a constant quality through the different production series, thus minimizing quality differences.
  • Preventing the marketing of defective products, thus protecting the reputation of the brand and ensuring customer satisfaction.
  • The ability to identify and correct problems upstream, thus avoiding delivery delays and reducing costs related to corrective actions.
  • Optimization of the budget allocated to quality control by reducing expenses for repairs, replacements, or product losses.

Product inspections can be carried out at several key points in the life cycle of a product, depending on its type, the level of quality required and the specific needs of the customer. Among the usual inspections, we find those of raw materials, products in process of manufacture, before shipment and upon receipt. Each type of inspection follows defined objectives, criteria and processes, which we will explore in the following sections.

Who is a product inspection for ?

Product inspection is essential for those involved in the creation, distribution, or marketing of goods, covering a wide spectrum from industrial products to consumer goods and services. It offers them a way to certify the quality, conformity and security of their offers, while allowing them to minimize the risks associated with the circulation of defective products. Depending on the product category, the expected quality standards and the specific criteria of the customers, the inspection can be carried out by several actors, including :


As the creator of the product, whether for its own brand or on behalf of a third party, it is in the manufacturer’s best interest to carry out inspections at different stages of production. In doing so, it ensures that the final product complies with the specifications, quality standards in force and regulations in place. Inspections can be internal, outsourced to external specialist bodies, or outsourced to raw material suppliers or production partners.


The buyer, whether he intends to resell the product or to use it, has every advantage to carry out inspections before the financial settlement with the manufacturer. This allows him to verify that the product corresponds precisely to his order and his expectations. Inspections may be carried out personally by the buyer, entrusted to third parties, or it may require the manufacturer to submit inspection reports or certificates of conformity.


The final consumer, using the product for his personal or professional needs, has an interest in inspecting the product upon receipt. This is to ensure its good condition, its proper functioning and the absence of defects or risks. Although the inspection can be performed by the consumer himself, calling an external body is also an option. In case of problems, the consumer can turn to the seller or manufacturer for guarantees or after-sales services.

Thus, product inspection is a key element involving all the links in the production and distribution chain, aiming to guarantee the quality, conformity and safety of the products at each step. The next section will detail the organizations offering laboratory testing, another quality control method.

Which organizations offer laboratory testing ?

Laboratory testing supports the analysis of biological, physical or chemical samples to assess their characteristics, compositions, performance, or compliance with specific standards or criteria. These tests are essential and complement product inspections by allowing unobservable details to be examined by visual or physical methods. Depending on the type of product, the quality sought and the requests of the customer, the tests can be carried out at various times of the life cycle of a product.

Different organizations offer laboratory testing services, chosen according to the application sector, type of analysis, level of accreditation and international scope. Among them are :

Medical laboratories

These structures perform analyses on human biological samples such as blood or tissues, in order to identify diseases, abnormalities, or toxins. These facilities can be public or private and operate in hospitals or in the city. They must meet rigorous standards of quality and competence.

ISO 15189 is the international standard for medical biology laboratories, defining criteria for management, resources, processes and performance evaluation.

Testing laboratories

Focused on the analysis of physical or chemical samples, these laboratories test the properties and conformity of materials, products, systems or environments with defined standards. They may specialize in areas such as electronics, chemistry, or offer cross-functional services.

These laboratories meet standards of quality and competence set out in ISO/IEC 17025, setting out requirements for management, resources, processes and maintaining impartiality.

Reference laboratories

They provide high-precision analyses that serve as a benchmark for other laboratories or regulatory entities to validate or calibrate methods and instruments. Internationally recognized by institutions such as WHO or ISO, these laboratories meet exceptionally high quality criteria, operating both nationally and internationally.

Laboratory testing plays an important role in quality assurance at different stages, requiring entities with adequate qualifications, skills and recognitions. The next section will detail the essential steps to complete a product inspection.

What are the essential steps for effective product inspection ?

Ensuring product quality, compliance and safety throughout their life cycle requires methodical and effective product inspection, including :

Definition of inspection criteria

The first step is to specify product specifications, quality standards, sampling methods and control procedures. It is crucial that these criteria are clearly and precisely defined, in line with the specific product, the level of quality targeted and the expectations of the customer.

Effective communication of these criteria to the manufacturer and inspector is essential to allow them to adequately prepare for the inspection.

Inspector Selection

Choosing a qualified, experienced and neutral inspector is crucial. This may be an internal inspector or a third party external to the company. A good inspector has the necessary technical skills, in-depth knowledge of relevant standards and regulations, as well as the necessary tools to perform his inspection.

It is essential that this inspector be independent of the manufacturer and the customer to prevent any conflict of interest or undue influence.

Conduct of the inspection

The inspection itself involves examining the product according to established inspection criteria, using appropriate techniques and tools. Depending on the product, this inspection may include visual, physical, chemical or functional checks.

It can be carried out at different key moments, such as when receiving raw materials, during production, before shipment or on arrival of the product.

Preparation of the inspection report

This critical step involves recording inspection observations, highlighting strengths and weaknesses, non-conformities and recommendations. The report must be detailed, precise and include objective elements such as photographs, video footage, measurements or test results.

The report must be sent to both the customer and the manufacturer, enabling them to initiate the necessary corrective actions.

In summary, an effective product inspection requires careful preparation, professional execution and smooth communication, to ensure the superior quality of the products and minimize the risk of defects.

How much does a product inspection cost ?

The cost of a product inspection depends on several factors, such as the type of product, the type of inspection, the location of the inspection, the duration of the inspection, the number of inspectors, the level of accreditation and the international recognition of the inspection body. Taking all these elements into account is essential to estimate the cost.

The type of product impacts the price, as it determines the complexity, technicality and risk of the inspection. Products such as electronic, chemical or medical items, for example, require specific know-how, tools and standards, which can increase the cost.

This same type of product also dictates the type of inspection required - visual, physical, chemical or functional - depending on the items to be checked.

In addition, the inspection location contributes to the total cost through the inspector’s travel, accommodation and living expenses. This may include the production plant, distribution or sales point and varies depending on whether the product is manufactured, exported or imported.

Thus, inspecting a product in China could be cheaper than in Europe, given the differences in labour costs and the competitiveness in the inspection market.

The time required to complete the inspection also influences the cost. This depends on the number of articles to be examined, the sampling method used, the depth of the checks and their frequency.

Inspecting a lot of 1,000 items will take longer (and therefore potentially more expensive) than a lot of 100, for example. This can also vary depending on the phase of the life cycle of the product inspected.

The number of inspectors hired obviously affects the price. This is related to the type of product, the type of inspection required, the location and duration of the inspection, and the level of quality required.

Finally, the level of accreditation and international recognition of the inspection body plays a role. These elements attest to the reliability and competence of the organization and ensure the compliance of the inspection results, thus impacting the market and the reputation of the product.

Choosing your inspection organization therefore involves comparing the cost with the expected quality and reputation, while assessing the benefits of risk prevention and compliance with standards.

Is there a renewal to be made regarding product inspections ?

The renewal of product inspections involves re-evaluation of product quality, compliance and safety at regular intervals or following significant changes. This is crucial to ensure that products consistently meet customer expectations, industry standards and regulations. Depending on the type of product and inspection, the place where it is carried out and the customer’s requirements, renewal can be either mandatory or optional.

There are instances where renewal of inspections is mandatory, including :

  • when specific regulations require periodic renewal, for example for medical, chemical, food or hazardous products,
  • if the product has a certification or a quality label requiring follow-up such as ISO, CE, NF or Qualiopi certifications where regular audits are essential to ensure constant compliance with quality criteria,
  • when the product undergoes a major change that may affect its quality, conformity or safety, such as a change in supplier, raw material, production method, distribution method or packaging.

Situations make renewal optional :

  • if the customer wishes to check the quality, conformity or safety of the products before purchase, use or resale,
  • when the manufacturer wishes to confirm these same aspects of the products it produces, distributes or sells, as a result of internal control, complaint, recall or improvement.

The cost of renewing inspections depends on various factors similar to those of initial inspections : the type of product, type of inspection, location, duration, number of inspectors, the level of accreditation and international recognition of the inspection body. This cost may be lower, similar or higher than the cost of initial inspections.

The renewal of inspections plays a key role in ensuring that products remain compliant with customer requirements, industry standards and legislation. The mandatory or optional nature of the renewal depends on several criteria, including the type of product, the type and location of the inspection, and the needs of the customer. We will see in the next section how a product inspection ensures compliance with regulatory standards.

How does a product inspection ensure compliance with regulatory standards ?

A product inspection plays a crucial role in validating compliance with regulatory standards, ensuring that products meet the necessary legal requirements for their specific field, target market and intended use. The standards in question are defined by authorities such as governments, international organizations or professional associations with the aim of protecting the health and safety of people, the environment, and consumer rights.

Since these standards may differ from country to country, region to region, or industry, and may change over time, It is imperative to stay informed and ensure continued compliance throughout the product lifecycle.

Product inspection provides tangible evidence such as reports, certificates or markings that demonstrate compliance with the criteria set by regulatory standards. These documents are often required by competent authorities, customers or consumers to confirm the conformity of products before they are placed on the market, used or resold.

In addition, such an inspection can offer significant trade benefits, such as lower tariffs, simplified import procedures or better access to certain markets.

Inspections can be performed by a variety of organizations, depending on the type of product, the inspection, the location of the inspection and the specific needs of the client, including:

  • Inspection bodies : independent entities dealing with the inspection produced according to the standards in force, providing reports and certificates. These bodies must be accredited in accordance with ISO/IEC 17020, guaranteeing their competence and impartiality.
  • Testing laboratories : independent facilities that perform product sample analysis in accordance with applicable standards, and issue test reports and certificates. Accreditation according to ISO/IEC 17025 is required to ensure their gedignité and impartiality.
  • Notified bodies : institutions designated by EU Member States to assess the conformity of certain products to European standards, providing reports, certificates or EC markings. These organisms are listed in the NANDO database.

In summary, product inspection ensures compliance with essential regulatory standards, through verification of legal criteria and provision of objective evidence. This approach can also generate commercial benefits and is achievable by various entities, tailored to the product, inspection requirements, and customer needs.