On-site Supplier Visits Amid the COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

The client, a famous electric bike company, has their own sourcing office in Taiwan, and a wide range of suppliers in both Taiwan and Mainland China.

Due to COVID-19 and travel restriction, the Taiwan based staff are not allowed to visit their suppliers in Mainland China, which is not only increasing the challenge for current supplier management, but also challenging for new supplier development.

Men in discussion during a factory inspection

To support the client, ARC Consulting’s Shanghai team helped the client by conducting an on-site visit at one of their main suppliers in Mainland China. The visit helped the client to get a clear understanding of their order production status and real lead time, as well as the supplier’s newest development plans.

At this time, the client was also switching to a new supplier in Zhejiang, China. Before the real cooperation and sample processing could begin, the client needed to do an on-site visit to check the supplier’s real production capability and the factory’s facilities. ARC Consulting was assigned by the client as a third-party audit company to help them visit the new supplier and provide a comprehensive visit report before proceeding to the next step.

ARC Consulting finished the project through three steps:

1. Preparation.

The client’s sourcing specialist in Taiwan provided the basic information from the potential new supplier, but as most of the information was yet to be verified, ARC Consulting’s consultant worked together with the client’s sourcing employee to develop a new list. It included five parts, namely company information, production capability, quality control system, EHS and documentation. This list was sent to the supplier before the visit.

2. On-site supplier visit

ARC Consulting consultant performed a full-day on-site visit at the supplier site. The consultant checked all prepared documents as well as performed an in-depth discussion with the factory’s quality manager. Every part of the suppliers facilities were checked, and ARC Consulting’s team took both pictures and videos for the client. At the same time, a real time video call with the client’s sourcing employee was conducted when the most critical parts of the production steps were inspected.

3. Presentation and recommendation.

ARC Consulting presented the client with a visit report directly after the on-site visit. The consultants introduced the supplier’s real basic information, the main in-house production steps and the critical findings (for example, the factory did not have painting processing in-house and needed to find new painting sub-supplier to the client). Further, ARC Consulting presented an overview profile of the supplier and recommendations on how to cooperate with them.

The project gave the client a good understanding of the new supplier’s real situation, as well as their advantages and disadvantages. The visit report gave the client’s sourcing team an objective overview, and helped them to make the correct decision for the next step with the supplier.

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