Sample vs First Article

A lot of companies are confused with the 2 terms. "Sample" and "First article"
  1. A "sample" or "pre-production sample" serves as proof of the factory's capability to achieve the required technical category. If done right, the pre-production sample can also be used as the "gold standard" for reference both in the factory's production line and on the customer QC side.

A sample alone is good enough for off-the-shelf products that the factory has done for a long time and got a proven track record.

  1. The first article, on the other hand, must be produced using exactly the same method, using the same equipment, tooling, and sometimes, done by the same people as to how they are supposed to be manufactured during mass production. It proves the factory's capability to mass produces the part according to our requirements.

Doing a proper First Article Inspection (FAI) can vastly reduce the risk before mass production and in most cases a must for our new product introduction (NPI) project.

This critical process is also when most communication and problem solving take place. A typical FAI will normally take months, or sometimes years to complete. It requires lots of investment and commitment from both the factory and our local engineering team.

This is also the deal killer time where most disputes, sometimes un-resolvable, take place.

For our most recent project of transferring production from China to Vietnam, the FAI process took 9 months. With lots of work for both the factory and our engineering. New product introduction is not for the faint of heart or short-term trading businesses.

In VNO, we take the join of going through this process on behalf of our customer. Not just because it is critical work that brings us business. But also because it's a chance for us to work alongside the local factories and help them to improve and grow with us.

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