Power outages, factory fires, 3rd party vendor strife and factories bumping your order for a bigger fish.

In the topsy turvy world of China manufacturing, these are all possible reasons for delays.

In a recent post, I laid out a foundational urgent delivery time checklist.

To continue the theme of  production timing and for the purpose of this post, the focus is on secondary or obscure reasons as to why orders do not depart from the factory at the confirmed date. When the order appears to be going well, these China manufacturing delays come out of left field and blindside the importer.

Power outages:

As we’re at the start of June; it’s that time of year again!

Anyone who has orders on line during the sweltering summer knows that power outages happen every season.

I don’t know all the in’s and out’s as to why this happens…but it does.

The grid is hot, power shifts from one area to another, air conditioners are pumping in the most populous nation thus a large spike.

Every few days your factory loses juice and your timing loses steam. 


There are also disasters that cause delays. Not often, but it happens. It goes without saying that safety of the employees should have top-billing in everyone’s mind.

You can control 100 production timing contingencies but there will always be #101

You can control 100 production timing contingencies but there will always be #101

3rd party vendor delays:

This is the vendor that supplies the dyed material or manages some additional process. This is the vendor that YOU are not contacting, but YOUR vendor has booked.

I’ve seen projects where the contact or primary vendor of the importer wouldn’t control their own vendor (the 3rd party vendor)…the 2 suppliers didn’t have a good relationship and the primary vendor didn’t want to “lose face” by toughening up on the 3rd party vendor.

This is when China manufacturing becomes more like the reality show Survivor instead of professional adults doing business.

You got bumped!

Sometimes, this is the price paid for being a small fish in a big pond. Your order may be big and important to you but not to the factory. If they’ve got more important, valuable orders to get out for long-term customers, chances are, your order will take a back seat.

And as a reminder as you navigate these pitfalls, be sure to define the quoted “production time”with the factory from the beginning. 

“The days you gave me are from when to when? From the deposit being made to the time the goods leave the factory or to the time the goods arrive to China’s port for departure?”

…this needs to be defined.

In communicating with your supplier, I recommend eliminating the phrases delivery time and lead time and stick to production days. Mainly, you want to know when the goods are supposed to leave the factory. Keep the factory focusing on a “factory departure date”.

One last bonus reminder:

Remember what a pain in the neck US customs and ports can be. And probably all worldwide customs and ports!

If you are bringing in goods via sea, everything can be going great, but the ports and/or US customs ruins well-laid plans. This is not something you can lay at your supplier’s doorstep.

No supplier can control US ports or customs. They have big enough headaches controlling their own production.