Customers expect only the best. How can garment manufacturers guarantee quality?

In today’s competitive global garment market, a single upset in production or shipping can spell disaster for a garment manufacturer. Issues like damage during shipping, incorrect sewing, or broken needles lodged in fabric can cause serious financial and reputational damage. To safeguard consumer safety and meet the quality standards of customers, garment manufacturers must carefully check their products before shipping and package them properly to ensure they aren’t damaged during shipping. This is where pre-shipment inspection and quality control come in.

What's Pre-shipment Checking?

Pre-shipment inspection is a quality control process that all reputable garment manufacturers complete before sending their products to customers. To make sure the garments are up to standard, an inspector will perform a series of tests on a sample of the products and their packaging—increasingly with the help of automation.

Sometimes garments are sewn incorrectly or the fabric itself is damaged, so inspectors will do visual and functional tests to make sure the products can be worn properly. They also perform various special tests, such as using a metal detector to look for any needles or metal debris that may have broken off from the factory machinery and gotten stuck in the fabric during production.

Inspectors also verify that the packaging is durable enough to protect the product during shipment. The most common way to test for this is the carton drop test. Inspectors will drop the packing boxes from different heights and angles, often following recognized international standards, to ensure they can endure potential transportation mishaps.

Pre-shipment inspection is usually performed with a mix of human work and machine aid. Automated machinery for quality checking, like automatic needle detectors, is now becoming more accessible for garment manufacturers. As a result, the quality control process can be completed faster and more effectively than before, saving manpower and keeping customers happy by guaranteeing high product quality.

Why Checking for Needles is Important

Despite all the precautions a garment manufacturer can take to ensure the safety of the production line, it is still possible for needles or other pieces of metal to break off and get stuck in fabric. To make sure broken needles don’t make their way into the homes of consumers, garment factory inspectors check for needles using a metal detector.

The most basic needle detectors are small, mobile units that workers can use to scan fabric by hand. These are suitable for smaller garment making operations in need of affordable and transportable options. More advanced needle detectors are automated and use a conveyor belt with strong sensors connected to a computer to quickly detect any metal. Automated conveyor belt metal detectors are perfect for high-volume manufacturers who want to speed up the quality control process.

Efficient quality control is important for saving time and meeting shipping deadlines. But it is even more important that the pre-shipment inspection is done with the proper care, since rushed inspection can lead to costly production delays or product recalls. In 2005, for example, the clothing company Marks & Spencer was forced to recall 12,000 pieces of children’s clothing after needles were found stuck in a large number of them. In 2015, the children’s clothing brand Bonds pulled 17,000 baby overalls off the market after a needle was found in just one garment.

Garment manufacturers need to implement careful quality control processes to confirm that their garments are safe to wear—not just to avoid legal trouble, but to retain the trust of both brands and consumers.

Using Machines for Packing: Quick & Safe

After completing safety checks like needle detection, packaging the products for shipment is usually the next step. Packaging garments can take time, because if it isn’t done correctly, the goods can sustain damage or get dirty on their way to customers. The use of manual labor only makes the process more time-consuming. Automated packaging machines slash time and labor costs while also guaranteeing high packaging standards.

Case erectors are responsible for the first step in an automated packaging process. These machines unfold and assemble the product boxes. Semi-automatic case erectors complete an assembly process begun by a human worker, while automatic case erectors take care of it all on their own.

After the boxes are assembled and packed, they are sent to sealers, another common type of automated packaging machine. Sealers perform the important job of closing and sealing boxes safely so that their products are protected from dust, dirt, and spillage in transit.

Both types of automated packaging machines make the packaging process faster and easier, with some machines working at a rate of 500 to 600 boxes an hour. Using machines also cuts out human error, reducing the likelihood of quality control issues sabotaging new shipments.


Garment manufacturers have to make sure that after their products leave their facilities, they are safe for customers to use and packaged well enough to avoid damage during transit. Automated packaging and needle detector machines are indispensable tools for a smooth and thorough quality control process. OSHIMA’s Modular Quality Control System (QC-ONE) is an all-in-one solution for garment manufacturers who want to take care of pre-shipment inspection as safely and as quickly as possible. Its automated conveyor belt-style needle detector automatically sorts inspected products into different boxes for safe and unsafe products to ensure they won’t get mixed up. The technology is the first of its kind on the market and can be tailored to the factory requirements. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions for quality control and other areas of garment production.