Ideally, it would be possible to explore a pallet supplier’s website, speak with a representative from their company on the phone, and feel confident that you had a thorough and accurate understanding of the way their business operates and whether they are equipped to meet your business’s needs. The unfortunate reality, however, is that some businesses present an overly-rosy image of their operations in their marketing literature and website, and thus, as in so many other parts of life, seeing is believing.
By scheduling a visit to see the supplier’s plant facilities in person, you will be able to gather a much more detailed and far less biased image of how the supplier operates and to what degree they are capable of fulfilling the needs of your business, before you accept a bid to work with the company. It’s far better to take a little extra time and energy to take a firsthand look at the pallet supplier’s facilities at the beginning of your relationship than find yourself with unexpected shortages and downtimes that render you unable to meet your commitments to your own customers. In particular, there are a five essentials that warrant your particular attention as you conduct your visit to the pallet supplier.
1. Initial Impressions
When you first arrive on site for your visit, the very first point you’ll have confirmed is that there is, indeed, a pallet processing facility at this address. You might think this should go without saying, but regrettably, it’s not always a guarantee. Moreover, now you know where your pallets are physically coming from, and you can begin to build a set of impressions about the pallet company based on how they approach their physical operations.
Take a good look around at the facility as a whole, and consider what general impressions you come away with. Is it orderly or chaotic? Is the workflow steady or frantic? Do the workers seem confident or confused? Is the layout of the plant streamlined or maze-like?
A pallet processing plant with a calm atmosphere in which the work proceeds at a steady pace throughout the facility and all the workers seem certain of what they’re doing indicates that the management has put effort into setting forth clear procedures and expectations. A well-run pallet processing facility is more efficient, less likely to suffer setbacks that interfere with production, and better positioned to recover from those setbacks more quickly. This generally means less risk and lower costs for you as their customer.
2. Handle with Care
Pay particular attention to the way the supplier’s workers stack and move about the pallets. Careful, stable stacks of pallets that don’t wobble show that the supplier values the extra effort it takes to be precise and safe, protecting both their employees from injury and their product from damage. The same level of care and precision should also be evident when pallets are moved into and around the facility and loaded onto trucks. If you use heat-treated pallets, make an effort to secure a tour of that element of the process as well, as this grants you another valuable opportunity for observation.
3. Step by Step
Request that your visit include a process tour in which you follow the entire route that incoming pallets take through the facility, giving you an opportunity to see how received pallets are documented and evaluated, repaired, stored, and ultimately shipped out. Ask any questions you need to about the grading process for incoming pallets and how the repairs are conducted. You want to come away with a clear understanding of exactly how the quality of pallets that you receive from the company is ensured.
4. Safety First
An efficient, reputable, and reliable pallet supply company is one that takes the safety of its workers and visitors seriously. Pay particular attention to the presence of any signage that instructs or encourages the use of safety equipment or practices by employees or visitors, or that displays the company’s safety record. Observe whether workers in potentially hazardous areas like the warehouse and loading/unloading zones are wearing appropriate PPE (including reflective garments, protective footwear, and eye protection). If the company does not post its safety guidelines or record anywhere visible to you during your visit, make sure to ask about the company’s safety policies and how it prioritizes creating a safe workplace.
5. Does Everything Add Up?
Consider everything you observe during your plant visit, and compare it to the company’s website or marketing claims, and to the details of the supplier’s bid. Do you feel confident that the supplier’s facilities show that they can fulfill the promises they’ve made? Take careful notes, and trust your instincts. If there are any areas that give you cause for concern, keep asking for clarification until you are satisfied with the answers before making a commitment.
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