Six Common Quality Control Problems in Shoes and How to Fix Them

Just as with any manufactured product, shoes suffer from problems that can stem either from their manufacturing, or improper use. After all, if your customer decides to wear running shoes to a construction site, they won’t last very long, but there’s nothing you can do to stop them.

On the other hand, you do have control over the issues that arise during manufacturing, which you can minimize or eliminate altogether.

In this article, we will look at six of the most common quality problems that occur during manufacturing of footwear, and the steps you can take to get rid of them.

Issue 1 - Excessive Glue

The various parts of shoes are generally stitched and/or bonded with glue. If the glue is applied sloppily or excessively, it will flow out of the joint and be visible to the client.

If appearing in a noticeable area, this type of defect can ruin the shoe’s appearance, and your customer is very likely to return the footwear for a refund.

However, this defect is easy to eliminate because:

  1. You can modify your manufacturing process to ensure that glue is applied correctly, and in the right amount.
  2. It is possible to fix the issue at later steps of the production process.

Issue 2 - Weak Bonds

This defect occurs when two bonded or glued surfaces, usually the sole and the upper, either come apart after a short period of use or aren’t bonded when the product leaves the factory. It can be caused by:

  • Insufficient or incorrectly applied glue.
  • Wrong type of glue being used.

This type of defect will also prompt your customer to return the shoe.

Fixing this defect is usually as simple as inspecting and adjusting the manufacturing process to make sure the correct glue and application technique are used.

Issue 3 - Scuff Marks

Scuff marks are the marks left on shoes, particularly leather or glossy footwear, after they have been handled carelessly or improperly packaged for transportation.

Once you discover scuff defects in your products, you will need to investigate which stage of the production process created them, and correct the problem accordingly.

Issue 4 - Asymmetry

When parts of a shoe are assembled into a whole, all parts must line up correctly. In a typical shoe, the left and right halves are joined in a seam that should follow a perfectly straight centerline running the length of the shoe.

Any seam that is crooked or runs parallel to this line is a defect that will likely result in the customer returning the shoe.

The easiest way to detect these defects is to compare the shoe to the perfect sample of the same shoe model (the so-called “golden sample”) and to its corresponding left/right partner.

Issue 5 - Size

All shoes are manufactured to standard sizes, and the customer expects the physical dimensions of their shoe to correspond to the stated sizing. A shoe can be incorrectly sized for two reasons:

  • The tooling is worn out and no longer has the correct tolerances.
  • Careless handling and packaging.

The second reason is far more common than the first. To ensure that your sizing is accurate, you must inspect your shoes prior to shipping, and if any issues are found, you should investigate your packaging and shipping areas to find the source of the problem.

Issue 6 - Metal Contamination and Sharp Points

The manufacturing of shoes often requires stitching, as well as the use of nails and tacks. Needles can break and remain in the shoe, while nails and tacks may be improperly flattened, leaving sharp points in the shoe. Any such foreign metal objects can cause serious injury to the customer.

If the shoe contains no metal parts by design, you can use a metal detector to detect any foreign metal objects.

However, if the shoes do contain metal by design, then regular quality control inspection must be carried out to ensure that the shoes made correctly, with no sharp protruding points that could harm the customer.

Eliminate Defects with Testing and Continuous Quality Assurance Inspections

None of the defects listed above can be fixed unless they have first been spotted, which can only be done with a thorough testing and quality assurance inspection process.

The reverse is true: if no one is inspecting your product, they will almost certainly leave the factory with a number of defects, resulting in product returns or even costly recalls.

Here at QIMA we provide best-in-class physical and chemical laboratory testing for footwear. We test the physical characteristics and chemical composition of your shoes to make sure they match the quality you demand and pass all required product safety regulations.

We can also provide a continuous inspection service for your entire production process: from initial batch to packaging and shipping. After all, your carefully designed production processes are useless unless you make sure your workers are actually following them.

With offices in over 85 countries, we can have a qualified QA inspector onsite anywhere in the world within 48 hours.

Get in contact with QIMA today and find out how we can help you manufacture perfect shoes.