Classification and Method of Supplier Audit in European and American Markets

The factory inspection of European and American enterprises usually follows certain standards, and the enterprise itself or authorized qualified third-party audit institutions conduct audit and evaluation of suppliers. The audit standards for different enterprises and projects also vary greatly, so factory inspection is not a universal practice, but the scope of standards used varies depending on the situation. It’s like Lego building blocks, building different standards for factory inspection combinations. These components can generally be divided into four categories: human rights inspection, counter-terrorism inspection, quality inspection, and environmental health and safety inspection

Category 1, Human Rights Factory Inspection

Officially known as social responsibility audit, social responsibility audit, social responsibility factory evaluation, and so on. It is further divided into corporate social responsibility standard certification (such as SA8000, ICTI, BSCI, WRAP, SMETA certification, etc.) and customer standard audit (also known as COC factory inspection, such as WAL-MART, DISNEY, Carrefour factory inspection, etc.). This type of “factory inspection” is mainly implemented in two ways.


  1. Corporate Social Responsibility Standard Certification

Corporate social responsibility standard certification refers to the activity of authorizing some neutral third-party institutions by the developer of the corporate social responsibility system to review whether a company applying for a certain standard can meet the prescribed standards. The purchaser requires Chinese enterprises to obtain qualification certificates through certain international, regional, or industry “social responsibility” standard certifications, as a basis for purchasing or placing orders. These standards mainly include SA8000, ICTI, EICC, WRAP, BSCI, ICS, SMETA, etc

2. Customer standard review (Code of Conduct)

Before purchasing products or placing production orders, multinational corporations directly review the implementation of corporate social responsibility, mainly labor standards, by Chinese companies in accordance with the social responsibility standards established by multinational corporations, commonly known as corporate codes of conduct. Generally speaking, large and medium-sized multinational companies have their own corporate code of conduct, such as Wal Mart, Disney, Nike, Carrefour, BROWNSHOE, PAYLESSS HOESOURCE, VIEWPOINT, Macy’s and other European and American clothing, footwear, daily necessities, retail and other group companies. This method is called second party authentication.

The content of both certifications is based on international labor standards, requiring suppliers to assume prescribed obligations in terms of labor standards and workers’ living conditions. Comparatively speaking, third-party certification emerged earlier, with a large coverage and impact, while third-party certification standards and reviews are more comprehensive.

The second type, anti-terrorism factory inspection

One of the measures to address terrorist activities that emerged after the 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001. There are two forms of anti-terrorism inspection plant: C-TPAT and certified GSV. Currently, the GSV certificate issued by ITS is widely accepted by customers.

1. C-TPAT counter-terrorism

The Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) aims to collaborate with relevant industries to establish a supply chain security management system to ensure transportation security, security information, and the flow of goods from the start to the end of the supply chain, thereby preventing the infiltration of terrorists.


2. GSV counter-terrorism

Global Security Verification (GSV) is an internationally leading commercial service system that provides support for the development and implementation of global supply chain security strategies, involving factory security, warehousing, packaging, loading, and shipping. The mission of the GSV system is to collaborate with global suppliers and importers, promote the development of a global security certification system, help all members strengthen security and risk control, improve supply chain efficiency, and reduce costs. C-TPAT/GSV is particularly suitable for manufacturers and suppliers exporting to all industries in the US market, allowing for quick entry into the US through fast channels, reducing customs inspection procedures; Maximize the safety of products from production until their destination, reduce losses, and win over more American merchants.

Third category, quality factory inspection

Also known as quality inspection or production capacity assessment, it refers to the audit of a factory based on the quality standards of a certain purchaser. The standard is often not a “universal standard”, which is different from the ISO9001 system certification. The frequency of quality inspection is not high compared to social responsibility inspection and anti-terrorism inspection. And the audit difficulty is also less than social responsibility factory inspection. Take Wal Mart’s FCCA as an example.

The full name of Wal Mart’s new FCCA factory inspection is Factory Capacity&Capacity Assessment, which is factory output and capacity assessment. Its purpose is to review whether the factory’s output and production capacity meet Wal Mart’s capacity and quality requirements. Its main contents include the following aspects:

1. Factory Facilities and Environment

2. Machine Calibration and Maintenance

3. Quality Management System

4. Incoming Materials Control

5. Process and Production Control

6. In House Lab Testing

7. Final inspection

Category 4, Environmental Health and Safety Factory Inspection

Environmental protection, health and safety, abbreviated as EHS in English. With the increasing attention of the whole society to environmental health and safety issues, EHS management has shifted from a purely auxiliary work of enterprise management to an indispensable component of sustainable business operations. Currently, companies that require EHS audits include General Electric, Universal Pictures, Nike, and others.

Post time: May-16-2023

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