A reader asked me an interesting question. I am reproducing a part of it, with all identifiers removed:
We are getting to the point where we are doing about a container each month where each container is a mixture of anywhere from 5 – 15 products from different factories across China. We have been talking about the feasibility of using a forwarder or a warehouse/multiple warehouses to have all the goods sent to first. Once we have enough products to fill a container, we’ll get it packed and send it off. The goal for this is to be able to confirm and enter into production more quicker and on a weekly basis. Currently, we source the goods, wait for each product to be confirmed and then purchase from all the factories at the same time.
I’m wondering if you have any ideas to streamline this process so we can get items produced faster and have a continuous flow of goods being manufactured and stored before shipment.
So the situation is this:
- Most factories are roughly in the same area in China (mostly in/around Zhejiang)
- Many SKUs are purchased from a number of suppliers
- Most of the time, one supplier’s order cannot fill a container up, so consolidation is necessary
The way importers generally do is as follows:
- They try to coordinate production completion times (but, as you know, this can be tricky)
- Once the factories have completed enough products to fill a container, they ask each factory to deliver to the freight forwarder’s warehouse (by coordinating details directly with the freight forwarder).
- The freight forwarder makes sure it all goes into the same container. Or arranges a LCL if the volume is small.
From a QC inspection perspective, here is what I observes:
- Large companies that have high and regular volumes can rent a room in the forwarder’s warehouse and station an inspection team there. Since there is on travel and no supplier interference, results are known faster.
- Smaller companies still need to send inspectors in the different factories (often on a randomized skip-lot plan). It is generally not realistic to bring the goods from several factories into one factory and check them there — the other factories will not accept to deliver before they get full payment, and the hosting factory will hate the idea of providing space and manpower for this.
I don’t know of any “easy” solution for this reader’s situation. Any tips?
Bridget Holland says
[Comment edited by moderator to remove self-promotion — the full information has been forwarded to the reader who asked the question at the origin of this post.]
Since we provide warehouse services rather than freight forwarding, it’s also possible to order bigger production runs, then store at the warehouse and ‘draw down’ on stock as sales require. Not sure freight forwarders are so good for this aspect of the business.
Every business needs to do the sums for their situation – cost of extra goods in supply chain, storage, pick / pack etc versus advantages like volume discounts on manufacture, reliable supply, cheaper freight from consolidation and so on. And it depends on location of warehouse since this will affect overall transport costs too.
BTW I agree quality inspection is still best at the place of manufacture! Get any issues sorted out as close to source as possible!