Is your packaging supplier the weakest link?

Most manufacturers understand that their ability to cost effectively supply quality product on-time is limited by the “weakest link” in their supply chain. That link could be a process internal to the company or it could be a supplier. Most companies will evaluate or qualify its important suppliers and make sure that all their critical suppliers have the ability to deliver quality product that is consistently on time.

Many people would not identify a packaging supplier as a critical element in satisfying their customer. Yet in some cases the packaging supplier can cause you to be late to your customer. One real situation: An equipment manufacturer custom builds very expensive machines and needs specific packaging to deliver it to their customers. The packaging supplier was late and prevented this manufacturer from meeting critical delivery dates. To further exasperate the situation, this particular manufacturer was a public company and needed these shipments to meet is quarterly projections. So not only were the customers upset, but stock holders were miffed because the revenue numbers were missed.

In the past, Packaging companies were rarely identified as critical suppliers, but we are seeing a change in the industry’s perception. If you can ship product in any cardboard box, or your maintenance department can “throw something together” with a hammer, saw and nails, then your packaging is not a critical component of satisfying your customer. But if you have special packaging needs and require a custom engineered solution, then that packaging supplier can keep you from delivering product. In these cases you need to make sure that you have a quality supplier that you can depend on.

How do you find a reliable packaging supplier? Let’s start at the bottom of the list with someone who would not be a reliable long term supplier. Many custom packaging and crating companies consist of a “jack of all trade”, who may have some basic tools and a lot of skill to create and deliver a packaging solution. As this company expands they take on more volume and clients and even purchase some better machines. But what they don’t have is a system. They have no material control system, no planning system, and no shop floor system. Their order entry system is a piece of paper. They have zero quality control checks and no measurement system. People on the shop floor won’t even know that a product is late until the customer starts screaming at them. If you are relying on this supplier to meet your critical deliveries….good luck.

What would a reliable packaging supplier look like? Of course they would probably have good equipment, technology and skilled people, but they also would have a good system. The system would be similar to any good manufacturing company and include the following:

  • Order entry
  • Material planning
  • Quality assurance
  • Shop floor control
  • Supplier management
  • Management review

In short they would have the tools and procedures needed to insure that they can make a delivery commitment. We at Packnet are proud of our systems and we are continually working to improve our processes to increase customer satisfaction. We measure our on-time delivery which is now over 98%. We invite anyone to tour our facility and review our systems, we think you will find Packnet to be head and shoulders above anyone else.