Quality Products International

Container Loading Inspections – follow up on PSI

by on Nov.03, 2011, under China Manufacturing Blog

A Container Loading Inspection involves an inspector checking that the correct product is loaded safely into the container typically before it leaves the factory.

It is conducted after and normally separately to other inspections such as PSI.

Once the  container is loaded it is fitted with a tamper evident security seal before leaving the factory.

Always consider a Container Loading Inspection

Container Loading Inspections should seriously be considered for first shipments out of a new factory. Especially if that factory has not been vetted or subjected to an audit, credit or background check.

These inspections are especially relevant if there has been a dispute or QC concerns with a shipment.

Many clients query why a container loading inspection is required and / or why that cannot be conducted by the QC inspector as part of the Pre Shipment Inspection (PSI).

Container Loading Inspection is an additional safety check

If a client has some concern about the factory they should seriously consider a Container Loading Inspection.

It is a wise option for new factories and / or if something appears a little “off” or there is some suspicion.

It is especially wise, if there has been a significant QC issue on a shipment and it should be considered mandatory if there has been a major disagreement with a factory or supplier.

Typically payment occurs sometime between product completion and arrival at the clients warehouse.

Once the Pre Shipment Inspections (PSI) results in a PASS report, to confirm the product meets requirements, the goods are normally stored in the factory warehouse. The shipping is booked and a container dispatched from the shipping company to the factory for loading.

The main risks are that:

– goods may  not be loaded correctly and with due care

– the correct goods are not loaded, or

– no goods are loaded!

Poor Container Loading

This should be easy, and normally is a simple process that goes smoothly. If the factory has a sound QC system, they should take due care of loading as well….and often do!

In busy periods container loading is sometimes completed by small teams of contract workers or day laborers. They have had no part in the careful construction of your product and will be long gone by the time you find they have mishandled it.

Similarly the truck driver either of their own accord, or at the direction of the shipping company will often pressure the loading crew to load the container as quickly as possible so the truck can complete the delivery to the shipping yard as soon as possible, again with no real regard for your product.

If the goods are delicate obviously due care should be taken, if it is a mix of heavy and light products, the container should be loaded with heavy at the bottom.

However, it is often the case that if left unsupervised, other factors will determine what happens.

Often the box closer to the warehouse door will be the first into the container and may well be crushed, if it should have been top loaded.

Containers will often be “layer loaded” so the entire floor is filled, and the workers walk the next layer in on top. Sometimes walking boards are placed to protect each lower layer, either way, sometimes the lower layers are simply damaged.

Cartons are often sent down chutes on the side of buildings to move it from the upper level of a warehouse to the truck. It is often with no damage and unfortunately sometimes with no care.

We have seen containers opened at distribution centers that were loaded just on one side of the container, leaving most of the container empty. As that narrow stack of cartons fell during transit, much of the product was damaged as the corners of some cartons landed on the sides of others.

Similarly is not uncommon to see containers packed so tightly, product is damaged as it wedged in. It is  better choose between shipping a small percentage in the next consignment, by LCL or even leaving behind, rather than damage most of the product in the consignment.

…again, often all goes well. The question is, how important is the consignment to the client, and how much is the reliability of the factory proven?

Poor product or no Product Loaded

If there has been dispute about QC, and especially if extensive re-work has been required it needs to be checked!

Often a follow up PSI will be conducted…..BUT….

It is quite possible that poor quality product is mixed back into the shipment after the PSI.

….again, normally the PSI is completed in a day, the inspector leaves the factory and container is loaded a following day.

As part of the container loading inspection, a smaller number of random boxes are rechecked to confirm they contain the correct product.

Sometimes it can be even more sinister.

On one consignment of Flat Screen TV’s, the factory loaded the container before the inspector arrived. The factory reluctantly unloaded some boxes which appeared OK and were obviously for the benefit of customs should they inspect on export as they sometimes do.

After much reluctance on the part of the factory more boxes were unloaded to reveal that most boxes in the container were void of any TV’s with some rocks in each to make up enough weight to avoid raising suspicion.

To be fair to most factories in China, this was an extreme and rare case. The factory had not been vetted or checked. The client simply found a “good deal” on line, paid the deposit and would have paid (and lost) the full value of the shipment if not for the inspection!

So why not complete both PSI and Container Loading Inspection on the same day? There are typically two complications with trying to complete both on the same day.

PSI is normally a full day on its own

To optimize the PSI, it is normally designed to fill one man day. The aim is to inspect the maximum number of items in line with the checklist that is designed to ensure the clients requirements have been met.

A thorough inspection requires complete focus and no distractions.

There may be scope to trim down an inspection so that there is time to supervise loading in the same day, and QPI Ltd is open to doing that, if it is the particular wish of the client, however the container booking logistics also need to be considered.

PSI is normally conducted a few days before container loading

Neither the factory or the shipping companies are keen to have containers at factories for longer than required.

The container loading is normally booked once a PASS report is confirmed. The truck carrying the shipping container is sent from the shipping yard to the factory and the truck waits at the factory while the container is loaded.

If the client wants the container loaded on the same day as the PSI, there is a risk that PSI will result in  a FAIL and consignment will be rejected. The container booking is then wasted and the truck returns with an empty container to the shipping yard.

Obviously there are costs involved with the aborted booking. Typically they are a few hundred dollars.

If production / inspection / shipping the deadline is tight, it is certainly worth considering! The client will normally have to commit to paying the extra container booking / trucking charges should the PSI result in a FAIL of serious PENDING report, and obvious delays, however it can sometimes ensure that a shipment sails on time.

Normally there is a window of a few days between inspection and shipping. If that is the case and there are any reasons to consider a container loading inspection, it will probably be cheaper to pay for the container loading inspection than the container return and re-booking fee…..or the other costs associated with risk to the integrity of the shipment.

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