Tag: packaging

Pallets from China can pose risks to supply chains

usa-palletFor this post, we welcome a friend to the Pro QC team, Daniel M. Krassenstein, as a guest blogger.  

Many U.S. importers regard procurement cost and pallet vendor selection as the shippers’ burden, but this is risky and exposes an importer to severe supply chain disruptions should their pallets not be compliant with local requirements and face rejection by border officials.

In addition, U.S. importers are missing an easy opportunity to improve their supply chain and their costs. Here is an outline of what is available in the market and their respective benefits and drawbacks.

Solid Wood Pallets

A. Risk of Beetles – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service conducts inspections of inbound containers at U.S. Ports of Entry. If they find evidence of wood-boring beetles in the solid wood pallets (even if the bugs are long-dead), then your entire container gets rejected and will be sent back to China. I know this for a fact, as we dealt with such a situation a few years back and it was costly!

5 Reasons Packaging Integrity Matters

Packaging is considered to be both the presentation of products to consumers, as well as the configuration in which products will be expedited through various channels.

The master carton or “pack” design includes the configuration in which product will be shipped through channels for end-user consumption, making it especially important where packaging integrity is concerned.

Here’s why:

1) Carefully planned packaging includes both cost savings obtained through the minimal use of materials, weight and labor, as well as reductions in potential rework costs.

2) Packaging has a direct impact on the perception of quality by the consumer.  

3) Orientation is an important consideration because the carton itself only has stacking strength in one direction, which is why it is imperative that the pack be designed the way it will be stacked in transit.  Labeling is important in communicating packaging requirements.

4) Packaging experiences a number of potentially damaging forces, which might include shock from handling, drops, vibration from transportation or compression from stacking in warehouses and vehicles.

5) Above all else, the objective of packaging is to insure products arrive safely in the hands of consumers without sustaining damage or other potential cosmetic or aesthetic issues.

Pro QC uses the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) 1A standard for special testing during on-site inspections. This evaluation focuses on the drop-test of individual cartons at a corner, edges and sides. The ISTA Series 1 is considered non-simulation integrity performance testing and is designed to challenge the strength and robustness of the product and package combination, not to simulate environmental occurrences. Pro QC considers defects resulting from this test as critical, so any issues noted with the product result in a reject status.

Additional test procedures are available through ISTA that also incorporate vibration, compression and atmospheric conditions. “Use of ISTA test procedures reduces risks in the transport environment and increases confidence in the safe delivery of a tested packaged-product.”

There are two types of tests that ISTA offers, which includes performance tests and development tests. According to ISTA, performance tests “result in a pass/fail assessment and are used to determine the viability of a packaged product to survive normal shipment. Development tests compare relative performance to two or more designs or the same design from different suppliers.”

We posted an article related to the Importance of Packaging in our quarterly newsletter.  Contact us for additional information.

Evaluating inspection reports

Many companies anxiously await product quality inspection results and focus on the “accept” or “reject” status alone.  However, it is important to note that useful information exists within the details that are worth examining.  Here are a few things that should be considered:

Defect Trends – An accepted inspection doesn’t mean that no defects were noted.  It just means they fell within the AQL (Acceptable Quality Limit).  Maintaining a spreadsheet of defect data can help identify trends and areas of improvement.  Using the idea of 80/20 (Pareto), continuous improvement efforts can be targeted at defects contributing 20% of the total, with the expectation that an 80% overall improvement will result.

Packaging Variance – If packaging details are not provided in the product specification, the inspector will report the findings and use the package integrity testing (ISTA drop-test) to determine if there are any issues.  However, it is useful to note variations in packaging when they exist.  Digital photos and metric information is included within the reports.

Product Specification Revision – As inspection reports are issued and findings evaluated, changes to the product specification should be made as a continuous improvement effort.

For additional information regarding understanding the inspection process, click here.

 

Your quality questions answered

We’ve  answered many of our most commonly asked quality questions in our newsletter.  As a recap, here are the most popular:

What happens during a pre-shipment inspection?

What is a “drop test”?

How do you address the issue of a supplier that has the desired capabilities but is inconsistent in quality performance?

What is root cause analysis?

What is life cycle testing and how is it performed?

What is the difference between a continuity test and a hipot test?

Visit the Pro QC website to subscribe to the quarterly newsletter. And, let us know if there are any questions you would like to see us include!