In the logistics world, you need to stay competitive while meeting customer demands. This can be a daunting challenge since supply chain disruption and talent shortages can make meeting customer expectations cumbersome at times. Third-party logistics (3PLs) providers offer value-added services in logistics, such as sorting and inspection, which can make all the difference in streamlining logistics operations.
Value-added services in 3pl logistics allows companies to focus on their core competencies instead of getting stuck focusing on day-to-day warehouse management. By moving value-added services further up the chain, companies can provide more consistent quality control while saving money in the long run.
Keep reading to see how quality sorting and inspection services from a 3PL like FLEX Logistics can help overcome today’s challenges and achieve efficiency in logistics operations.
What is Quality Sorting and Inspection in Supply Chain?
Although sorting and quality inspection is not a standard value-added service, it is an important one since it is essentially a weeding-out process that involves examining all products and removing units that do not meet a quality standard.
Here are some reasons why a unit may be removed:
- Missing parts or components
- An unwanted color variation
- Coating irregularities
- Cracks, chips, or scratches
- Other damages, such as mold
The inspection process in the warehouse enhances the customer experience by reducing the number of low-quality products in the supply chain, thereby minimizing the risk of unsatisfied customers. When sorting and inspection can happen further up the supply chain, it can improve production and fulfillment by enhancing accuracy and efficiency, contributing to a better customer experience and reduced product returns.
Inspections of goods are often appropriate in other parts of the supply chain, such as during the production process, inspections of the final finished product and inspections of items when they are processed in the warehouse. It saves the risk of sending in faulty products.
Why are Quality Sorting and Inspection Necessary?
Sorting and inspection services offer significant benefits, such as:
- More accurate reporting of defects
- Increased shipment quality
- Reduced number of returns
- Increased customer relations
These advantages are a cost-effective way to cut costs associated with poor quality control, and they outweigh the costs associated with lower PPM (parts per million).
The Cost of Defective Parts
The costs associated with defective parts include:
- Brand/reputation damage
- Air freight costs for rush replacement parts
- Loss of business
- Production downtime
Once you add up these costs, the value of sorting and inspection quickly becomes evident. Sorting and inspection processes significantly lower the number of defective parts per million (PPM). The costs associated with sorting and inspection equipment, personnel, training, or outsourcing may seem intimidating, but they are ultimately negligible in comparison to the risks of delivering shipments containing a high rate of defective PPM to a customer.
Methods of Sorting and Inspection
Our inspection and sorting services use a range of techniques. For particular purposes, each method has advantages.
Visual inspection is one of the most popular inspection techniques used by manufacturers to detect surface level faults. This approach recognizes and distinguishes parts with surface cracks, rust, oxidation, contaminants, irregularities, and finishes that could cause the component to fail structurally or mechanically. Both natural eye inspection and accentuated inspection processes are used in visual inspection.
Gauges measure whether an object conforms to specified dimensional standards. While measuring checks the actual dimensions of the object, gauging evaluates the dimensional variation of an object from an established standard. When used for quality control processes, gauging identifies and separates parts that fall outside the allowable tolerances specified by the application.
Inspection of components with complex geometric shapes often necessitates the use of a custom-designed check fixture to ensure that the component is within acceptable tolerance limits. A manufactured product is stabilized over a pattern that matches the desired shape of the component using pins attached to a foundation.
Some separated parts may have correctable defects like surface finish, cracks, marring, or slight tolerance variations. These parts can often be reworked to appropriate specifications using processes such as:
- Adhesive bonding
- Heat staking
- Ultrasonic welding
Benefits of Value-Added Sorting & Inspection Services
As the transportation industry becomes more competitive, shippers seek ways to optimize their logistics operations. One solution that many shippers are turning to is third-party logistics (3PL) providers that offer value-added services, such as sorting and inspection, kitting and returns management.
- More Consistent Quality
While most manufacturers have stock checked for quality assurance, it is essential to know that a product can go through a wide array of places where something can affect it between the manufacturer and its destination. An in-warehouse quality inspection reduces that impact before it damages client relations.
A 3PL partner can provide shippers with space, labor and equipment flexibility to respond to orders and consumer needs changes. This flexibility is essential for shippers who experience fluctuations in demand or seasonality in order volumes and don’t have room to set up a sorting process in the warehouse.
A good 3PL partner can accommodate the changing needs of their clients by providing flexible space options, using their network to find labor quickly, and having access to specialized equipment to handle the demand. Leveraging your existing 3PL for industrial sorting services also means you do not have to hire a separate sorting company to take on this task.
- Lower Return and Replacement Rates
When there is a problem with a product that has already reached the customer, it is substantially more difficult to make repairs. But when a 3PL’s quality control inspection team finds the concern, it can make repairs without the added wear and tear problems during the rest of the product’s journey and eliminates costs for return and replacement shipping.
A full-service 3PL can manage transportation, warehousing, and all value-added services under one roof. By streamlining your operations in this way, you enjoy everything being managed by the same team and integrated into the same system. You do not have to develop and manage the sorting process. Outsourcing this value-added activity ensures consistent quality and optimized processes throughout the supply chain.
Partnering with a 3PL provider can result in cost savings for businesses, reducing labor costs and integration expenses. By outsourcing non-core functions like the sorting process, shippers can reduce labor costs and improve margins by focusing on core competencies. Additionally, having a 3PL partner can help shippers avoid the significant expenses of implementing their own sorting warehouse.
The FLEX Logistics Team is Here to Help!
Our team understands the importance of getting your products to the market. That is why we aim to understand your business and build lasting relationships with you and your team. Whether you are looking to add a new warehouse to your existing operations, growing and need to increase your distribution efforts, or starting a new company, FLEX has the solutions to meet your supply chain needs.
Contact us today to discuss your current and future warehousing and logistics needs. We will work together with you to understand your requirements and develop a solution that will set you up for future success.