It’s happened again. Your latest shipment from China just arrived and, once again, there’s a problem. Perhaps this time it wasn’t packaged according to your specifications. Maybe it was delivered past deadline. There could be quality issues or defections due to the way it was packaged. Or maybe some parts just didn’t make it into the crate.There are clear and obvious benefits to working with Chinese vendors or to basing some of your own manufacturing in China. The cost savings can be substantial, as you likely know. However, when you ship from China, you can also face serious risks, especially with regard to packaging.
Your Chinese partners may not place the same importance on packaging as you do, or they may simply not fully grasp your packaging instructions. There’s also the logistical challenge of having eyes and ears on the ground in China. You may not know there’s an issue until the products show up at your domestic facility.
Below are four unique packaging challenges that can arise when shipping from China. If you currently ship from China or if you are considering doing so, you may want to develop a strategy for overcoming these hurdles.
Quality is often the name of the game in industrial manufacturing. Your customers demand quality from you, which means you have to demand the same high level of quality from your vendors and partners.
A common challenge in China, though, is that the quality standards may not be upheld all the way through the shipping process. Sometimes, products have to move through a series of ports and shipping centers on their way out of the country. How can you be sure that your quality standards are being met through the entire process?
Solution: One effective solution is to take the packaging component out of your vendors’ hands. Work with a partner who understands your packaging and quality requirements and who can help you and your team uphold your quality standards. An international industrial packaging partner should be able to oversee packaging in China to ensure your standards are being met.
That quality assurance process should continue once the crate hits domestic shores. For example, the packaging partner may unpack on your behalf on the receiving end to check for defects or gaps in quality. If there are issues, the packaging partner works with the vendor to find a resolution so your supply chain isn’t disrupted.
Scheduling is another significant challenge when shipping from China. You’re likely trying to run a lean operation. You don’t want product arriving at your facility until you need it. However, you may have to ship from China in large quantities, and you may need to do so weeks or even months in advance.
There are usually multiple steps in any supply process from China. All it takes is one issue or disruption at any of those points to cause a delay, which could then delay your production schedule.
Solution: Again, it can be helpful to take the scheduling and shipping responsibilities out of your vendors’ hands. Their core competency is producing your product. Let someone else handle the scheduling and shipping.
If you’re working with an international packaging partner, they should be able to set up the shipping and logistical components of your Chinese supply chain. They should also know your schedule requirements so they can monitor the process and resolve disruptions before they become major issues.
Where are my products? What is the ETA on delivery? Is it too late for me to make changes? Who is handling my shipment at this point?
These are common questions that pop up frequently during any industrial shipping process. The problem is that when you’re shipping from China, it may not be easy to get answers. Many Chinese vendors lack the technology or infrastructure needed to provide transparency. They produce your products, and then they ship them. You get a status update when the shipment shows up at your facility.
When you’re operating in a fast-moving, competitive environment, you need more information and transparency. You can’t be in the dark for weeks at a time while your shipment is in-transit from China. How do you gain that transparency and get the data you need to make informed decisions?
Solution: Work with a partner who has invested in technology. You can leverage that technology to gain insight into your Chinese supply chain.
For example, some packaging and logistics companies may be able to scan your products as they are packaged, and then scanned again as the crate moves through the export process. If the scanning technology integrates with your SAP software, you can get the data you need with just a few clicks.
What if you’re working with multiple vendors in China, but need all of the parts to arrive together? It’s a common challenge, especially when you’re working on a large-scale industrial project. You might have products coming from dozens of different Chinese vendors. And they may all have their own packaging standards and shipping schedules. How do you get them in sync?
Solution: This is when it helps to work not just with a logistics company, but with a packaging partner that has people on the ground at numerous locations throughout China. They can act as your eyes and ears, coordinating with your different vendors and overseeing the crating process.
There are many companies that can simply schedule shipping from China. There are few who will oversee packaging, coordinate logistics, and monitor the entire process from pack to unpack and delivery at your facility.
In today’s competitive industrial environment, Chinese manufacturing is likely to play a major role in your process. However, there are real obstacles in place. The right packaging and supply chain partner can help you overcome those hurdles and find success with your Chinese partners.