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Client's Order Dock Inspection before Shipping



Hello there!

My name is Luciano and I work at a warehouse of a metalwork company at Gravata?, near Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. This is my first topic, so I hope I'm posting it at the right place.

My company is having some issues on the quantity sent to one of our clients. Sometimes, it?s more than ordered; others, it?s less. Since our picking process is divided by client, my first attempt was checking how the picker for this client was doing his job. Did not found anything unusual but still, I started double-checking the order from this client before shipping. The thing is, the problem persisted and I'm starting to suspect of the client's receiving process.

Since asking the client to double or even triple-checking could be aggressive and I can't be sure that our counting is 100% right (since it's human made), I was thinking about implementing a more automatic-fail-proof process for this dock inspection: using a weighing scale to check the weight of each box and keep a record of what it's being shipped to the client.

That way, I would have a more accurate information of what I'm sending to the client and could be more emphatic when divergences occur.

What Elsmar Cove think about this?

Thank you all in advance!
Elsmar Forum Sponsor

Jeff Frost

Weight count would be one method but even so there will also be some measurement error possible. The simplest method would be to talk to your customer about what you have implemented and then ask how they are going it. If possible, go and see how they are doing it.

insect warfare

QA=Question Authority
Trusted Information Resource
Welcome to the Cove, luciano.rossato! :bigwave:

Asking your client to perform multiple inspections may not add any value to your relationship with them. In fact, it may make things more tense. Seeing as they are a client of yours, you want their processes to be just as efficient as yours are.

If you suspect that this client could be the source of your issues, set up an on-site audit of that supplier's receiving processes (if it is within your capabilities). This is commonplace for many companies who have these types of issues with their suppliers. If you can, also review their contractual obligations to see what you actually require of them as a supplier. Verify if their process controls are working (you will know if they're not), and be sure that you can accurately trace their records backwards to your own facility. If you find serious issues with their controls, you can use the results of your evaluation to determine if they need to be replaced by a more capable supplier (or to flex a little business muscle to leverage better practices from them).

From your post, I doubt there is any pilferage going on in-transit, but it would still be a good idea to check your transportation carrier's controls as well. Your responsibility to provide good product (at the right time and in the right quantity) should not end at your shipping dock door.

Brian :rolleyes:


Welcome to The Cove, Luciano!

Our company had a similar problem a few years ago, just before I came here. They implemented a triple check of every order shipped, and added me in as a fourth layer about a year ago. Now, every completed order gets an initial check by the technician who finished and packaged it, then another check by a second technician, then the Production Manager checks it, then the Quality Manager (me) checks it. We all sign off that everything is present and correct before the shipping cartons are sealed and shipped. It may seem like overkill, but we no longer short anything to our customers. It's amazing how many times one or two sets of eyes will miss something.

My point is, it's really first and foremost incumbent on you as the supplier to ensure you are doing everything you can to ship the correct order. If it takes three or four different people to review the order, then so be it. You won't have to do this very long before you see where the errors are occurring.

As to the idea of weighing the cartons, that may work, too. It also may end up being a bigger headache than you have now. If your product is always shipped in known quantities and there is no deviation in the packaging, your cartons should have the same weight every time. If not, you'll probably find yourself opening and counting anyway.

Just be sure your own process is correct before questioning that of your customer. As Brian said, that route may not be the best for your business relationship.

Bill McNeese

Involved In Discussions
Good responses from eveyone. I think Jeff gave you some good advice. Ship an order and be there when it arrives at the customer to see what they do. Compare it to what you think you shipped. As far as in house .....

I would be beware of having too many people checking the order. Having two people responsible for the same thing means no one is. If you pick that path, make sure the people checking do not know what the other person found out.

For example, suppose you and I are checking an order. You check it first and sign off on it. I check it second and then sign off on it. Another order arrives. It is a tough day, late you want to go home. You are checking that order. You do it a little more quickly than normal - avoid getting home late plus you know I will check it as I always do and I am wonderful. :)

I get the order to check - I know you do a great job on this. So, I want to go home. I just sign off. Order goes out without really being checked. Maybe we get lucky, maybe we don't.

Lesson: if you have multiple checks, make sure they are independent - this means they do not know what anyone else found out.

Suppose you and I are both 90% accurate. We both check an order independently. What are the possible outcomes:

We both agree: .9 x .9 = .81
One says yes, one says no: 2(.9*.1) = .18
Both say no and are wrong: .1*.1 = .01

So 81% of the time we agree that the order is correct; 18% we disagree - order is stopped; 1% of the time we agree the order is correct when it isn't.

We go from 10% wrong to 1% wrong by having independent checking. Nice improvement.

So, if you must use multiple checks, please make them independent. And sometimes you must do that. But in the meantime, work on the process. And share your results with the customer.


Thank you all for the great answers! That was quite exciting. :thanx:

Triple-checking, or even quadruple, could be a solution, but probably we would need to hire more people to do this. It would take a lot of time and since we work with milk run and are a quick response supplier, things have to be fast. From my boss perspective, hiring more people, for now, is not an option. I also tend to think like Bill and prefer to avoid too many people handling the parts. The valour added, in my situation, is not compensated by the cost involved. :(

I'm aware that the scale method could not be a 100% failure-proof, since I could have different packages and all, but at least would be a more accurate registry of what is leaving the warehouse. We would keep the weight of each box history and if the client complain about any specific part, we would be able to verify what we sent not just with human-made data, but also with machine-made ones. Besides, would be a good tool for the pickers to check their job.

I must confess that I'm a little bit worried about people relying too much in the weight and not giving much attention to the counting in the future. I'll have to think about how I will introduce this process here and document it properly to avoid problems.

About the suggestions of asking for an audition at the client's receiving process. Would be a good way of discarding an error at the client process, but since my company have a history of shipment problems (got this from my boss, it's just my first month working here), I would like to have more accurate data before making this move and showing that I'm suspecting of them. As Brian and PaulJSmith said, I'm assuming that I must be sure of my process before checking for other reasons. And also, from what I understand of my company until now, they are just starting to implement a more serious approach of auditions and quality processes, so probably asking for an audition now would be awkward. Besides, a visit is already being planned for me to know our client. I'll use this opportunity to do what Jeff said and audit them (and at the same time me), but in a quiet way.

About Brian's remark on transportation, I also doubt that there is any problem, but indeed, I can't discard this possibility.

Bill's analysis using simple probabilistic was quite an insight. I totally forgot that I could use this kind of approach to get better sight of my options. :frust:It's time to put in use all that learning in Econometrics.

Also, like many of you suggested, I'll start to have a more direct contact with the client's receptor, informing what we are doing. The guy that does this now is the operational leader of the warehouse and sometimes the information is lost in its way.

Thanks again!
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