Visit the factory in person
Visiting the factory of the Chinese company you wish to work with is an essential first step of quality control in China. If you are planning to do the trip to China to visit the company, make sure you will visit the factory not only the representing office in the middle of a business center.
If your company cannot go to visit the factory, you should hire a professional to visit the factory on your behalf. The person who inspects the factory should have knowledge of manufacturing processes and experience in factory management to understand the whole factory.
Do not really pay attention on the ISO certification of the factory, ISO certification is easy to get in China. It is worthless to ask for.
Discuss with the general manager
One important thing is to discuss with the general manager of the factory, not the owner but the person who is charge every day of the operations to understand his way to manage the factory. Through the discussion you will know if the general manager is involved in the daily operations, if he or she knows what is going in the factory.
You can also see the interaction the general manager has with the team, if he or she are more leader or more dictator in the manager.
During the visit, ask to discuss with the managers or supervisors in charge of the production shops
You want to know how things are done on the shop floor, then ask to be guided by the operational persons during the visit of the workshops. You will see if they have the same target and speech as the GM.
Key management point to ask is how the reporting is done, ask for daily routine work process, then you will see and understand how problems are being handled.
In addition, see the visual display because it is important that the workshop uses the visual communication to show off No Good and Good things. The visual communication is also all the reportings done by the operator, the work instructions, the key "Quality" items in the work instructions. One good thing is to take 1 work instruction and see how the operator is doing his/her job: Same as specified on the work instruction ?
The most important when you visiting the factory, you need to see how the people interacts with each other, most of time in Chinese factories, departments are fighting against each other, it is weird but it is a reality. When you visiting the office in factory or the workshop see how people talks to each other, how people are doing the meetings... This will show you if you have any problems that it will be handled well.
See how operators are dressed up
When visiting the workshops, have a look on the way operators are dressed, most of factories have high requirements on the clothes and even the haircut of the operators.
Make sure the workers are wearing all the safety equipments needed for their work, if they are not wearing any then make sure there are indications and displays on what to wear and what to pay attention when working. Sometimes the operators are not willing to wear safety equipments and it is difficult to persuade them to do so despite training and every morning meetings. Check also the punishment system in place for not wearing safety equipments.
Check out the restrooms
Simple thing: Check out the toilets rooms for operators and you will understand the situation of the factory.
For lunch or dinner, ask to eat at the canteen of the factory
Food and living are important , have a look at the canteen and dormitory when you visit the factory.