All posts by Ben Goldwasser

How To Spot Supplier Risk During Pickups & Deliveries

When your transportation vendor picks up or delivers your cargo, you should take some time to check for risky behaviours. This article reviews what to look for to ensure you’re not working with vendors that will put your business at risk. 

Delivery

Thanks to Spendrix for granting Procurious permission to republish this article. This article is the second in a series on how to identify various types of supplier risk. Catch up with the first in the series.

To wrap up our series on identifying supplier risk, we examine what you should look for during pickups and deliveries. Earlier articles in the series covered the importance of risk profiling as well as other situations where you should look for supplier risk.

When it comes time for a transportation vendor to pickup or deliver your cargo, review this checklist to ensure you’re not working with a carrier that will put your business at risk.

Equipment

One of the first things to inspect during pickups and deliveries is the equipment used to transport your business’ cargo. Before any cargo is loaded, identify the exact truck and trailer being used for the job. Make sure the truck and trailer aren’t damaged from previous trips. Also, check the deck of the trailer to make sure it’s intact; and that the rest of the trailer is rust free. Finally, inspect tires for adequate tread and proper inflation.

Before your cargo is ever moved, make sure your transportation vendors’ equipment is in good condition.

Driver State

Another serious risk factor to look for during pickups and deliveries is the physical and mental state of the driver that will be responsible for transporting your business’ cargo. Drivers will spend a lot of time with your cargo, so it is in a shipper’s best interest to ensure their driver will be safe. Obviously, check that your driver is not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Just as important, make sure they aren’t groggy or tired, which can be just as dangerous as having alcohol in your system.

Also, do your transportation vendors help ensure driver compliance by maintaining organised and up to date logbooks? Do they have a detailed understanding of their drivers’ hours of service, and work to avoid violations? If not, that vendor and their drivers could be putting your entire business at risk.

If you ever have any doubts about the state of a driver, don’t be afraid to speak up. Checking the mental and physical state of the driver transporting your cargo is a crucial way to protect your business from supplier risk.

Personal Protective Equipment

During pickups and deliveries, make sure your transportation vendors’ employees are using the proper personal protective equipment for the given job. OSHA requires, “protective equipment to be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary.” This includes safety glasses, respirators, steel-toed boots, work shirts, gloves, hard hats, and hearing protection.

Unfortunately, workplace accidents do happen, but using the proper equipment goes a long way to minimise these accidents and protect workers. It is also a good idea to make sure the proper first-aid medical equipment is available if needed.

If your transportation vendors provides personal protective equipment and mandates its proper use, this is a great sign you are working with a reliable and safe carrier. However, if you repeatedly see carriers engaging in risky behaviours during pickups and deliveries by not using proper safety equipment, you may want to consider a different vendor for your transportation needs.

Securement

Properly securing your cargo is one of the most important steps for minimising damage. Therefore, you need to make sure your transportation vendors’ securement equipment and practices won’t put your cargo at risk. First, check all securement equipment for damage and the effects of ageing. This means inspecting chains for rust, tarps for holes, and straps for tears.

Also, ensure carriers are using the proper equipment for the type of trailer. Flat decks need corner protectors, and blocking and bracing should be used if loading a van. Finally, ensure your transportation vendor tightens down all cargo before the truck moves anywhere.

Making sure your business’ cargo is properly secured during pickups and deliveries dramatically lowers the chances of an accident involving your cargo. By checking your transportation vendors’ securement practices, you can spot risky behaviours during pickups and deliveries.

Overall, we’ve covered three areas where you can identify supplier risk – communication, on-site evaluations, and pickups and deliveries. By looking for risky behaviours during these interactions, you can help protect your business from the consequences of supplier failure.

Ben is a business development professional currently working with Spendrix. He enjoys the challenge of helping a young company grow. Ben is passionate about risk analysis, business administration, and technology issues affecting the transportation and logistics industry.

How To Spot Supplier Risk During On-Site Evaluations

Visiting your suppliers in person provides a great opportunity to identify potentially risky behaviour. In this article, we explore what you should look for to ensure you’re working with safe, knowledgeable, and reliable suppliers.

Factory Whole View fm 3R

Thanks to Spendrix for granting Procurious permission to republish this article. This article is the second in a series on how to identify various types of supplier risk. 

In our last post, we discussed how to spot risky behaviour when communicating with suppliers. The second article in our series on identifying supplier risk explores what to look for during on-site evaluations.

While on-site evaluations aren’t required, visiting your suppliers can help you build better relationships and improve communication. Furthermore, visiting your suppliers on-site allows you to evaluate them for risky behaviours that could potentially affect your company.

Here are some things to look for the next time you visit a supplier on-site:

Training Capabilities

When you vet your suppliers, you make sure they are qualified to do the job at hand, right? A part of this vetting process includes ensuring your supplier’s employees are proficient. Therefore, when you arrive on-site, it’s definitely important to check out your supplier’s training capabilities.

Top suppliers will have dedicated classroom space, a well thought-out training course, and experienced instructors. When you’re on-site, simply ask to review their training course to get an idea of how well it is preparing your supplier’s employees to work with your company. Does the training cover how to properly work with any equipment employees may have to use, how to properly secure and transport goods, how to check and maintain equipment to ensure it’s working properly, or what to do in the case of emergency?

Employees should understand how equipment looks, feels, and sounds when operating properly in order to act quickly if the machine becomes unsafe. Remember, your supplier is only as safe as its employees.

If your supplier can not answer simple questions about their training program or it seems their course lacks substance, you may need to ask yourself if that supplier is the best fit for your company. Overall, your suppliers represent less risk to your business the better their employees are trained.

Properly Stored & Inspected Equipment

Another crucial risk factor to look for during on-site evaluations is how your suppliers store their equipment, spare parts and securement tools. The way that a supplier stores excess equipment can tell you a lot about their attention to detail and the value that they place on having their equipment be in excellent condition.

While on-site with a transportation vendor, have a look at their inspection areas. Inspection areas should be well lit, and have spare chains and straps to replace defective securement.  It’s important that your suppliers are taking all measures to minimise violations and damage when transporting cargo.

In addition to securing cargo, also evaluate how well your supplier’s equipment is being maintained. Are tractors and trailers assessed for potential damage, parked in an organised and safe location, and repair areas kept clean? How promptly are mechanical issues taken care of? Are spare parts well organised and in safe locations for the mechanics to access them?

When visiting a manufacturing supplier, look how they treat their equipment as well. Is all the necessary Personal Protective Equipment available, clean, organised, and stored properly? Also, check their records to see if equipment is being professionally maintained and inspected on a regular basis.

Suppliers that do not properly maintain their equipment can put your company at serious risk. Poorly maintained equipment is one of largest safety concerns when working with suppliers. If your supplier neglects their equipment, this directly impacts your business.

Visual Inspections of Equipment

In addition to how your supplier stores their equipment, do they keep it up to date and safe? When performing an on-site evaluation, take an opportunity to perform your own assessment of your supplier’s equipment for physical damage.  Identify things that could lead to supplier error, and thus, put your business at risk.

When evaluating transportation vendors, check tires for adequate tread and proper inflation. Inspect trailers for any internal or external damages. Also make sure securement equipment is functioning properly. If on-site with a manufacturing supplier, examine equipment for exposed wires, burning smells, abnormal movements, or odd noises. Also, verify that the proper machine guarding equipment is being used.

Ensuring your supplier properly maintains their equipment can help to reduce the potential for errors. Therefore, it is crucial while on-site to inspect your supplier’s equipment, and in turn, protect your business.

Proper Compliance

A final way to minimise risk when performing an on-site evaluation of your supplier is by inspecting how they handle compliance. Does your supplier maintain organised and up to date logbooks? Do they have a detailed understanding of hours of service regulations, and work to avoid violations? Also, have they had any recent drug or alcohol violations? Or even worse, are there any drugs or alcohol on-site?

In addition, are there proper accident prevention signs in visible, high traffic areas? Is there easily accessible first-aid medical equipment in case of an emergency? The first-aid kit should be tailored to your supplier’s specific work environment and associated risks. It can also be necessary to have employees trained in first-aid, CPR, or responsible for certain emergencies.

By evaluating your suppliers for compliance issues, you are communicating your company’s values. You also can spot risky behaviours before they dramatically impact your company.

Overall, on-site evaluations allow you to get a closer look at your supplier’s day-to-day practices, and determine if they are the best fit for your company. If your suppliers do not have an effective training program, properly store or maintain their equipment, or follow proper compliance protocol, it may be time to look elsewhere for your business’s needs.

Ben is a business development professional currently working with Spendrix. He enjoys the challenge of helping a young company grow. Ben is passionate about risk analysis, business administration, and technology issues affecting the transportation and logistics industry.

How to Spot Supplier Risk in Communication

Communication is a critical component of any business and is no less crucial in supplier relationships.

How to spot supplier risk in communication blog post

Thanks to Spendrix for granting Procurious permission to republish this article. This article kicks off a series on how to identify various types of supplier risk.

When your company has great communication with suppliers, it can be like adding another department to your organization. There are a large number of suppliers who do an excellent job communicating with their customers. You probably have several suppliers you can think of now that practice excellent communication. What is it that sets these suppliers apart?

First, better communication leads to more efficient business practices. This can be seen in being able to respond to customers quickly and with thorough information. Also, suppliers that communicate well understand your company’s objectives, and how their business fits into these objectives.  As you know, when a supplier has these traits, errors related to communication issues are much less common.

Unfortunately, there are a number of suppliers that are not as transparent with their customers as they ought to be. This break down in supplier communication can introduce various risk factors into your supply chain. The question then becomes, ‘how can you spot risk in supplier communication?’

The Details Simply Don’t Align

You may have a contact you normally deal with when working with a supplier. This is the person you go to with new jobs, or when you have any questions to clear up. However, what happens when your contact provides you with inaccurate information?

For example, your contact may have quoted a new job at a certain rate, but the official documentation says otherwise. Another example may be stating that a truck is in transit when the GPS tracking shows that the truck is stagnant at a truck stop.

Accidental or not, these mistakes slow down your business, cost you money, and damage that supplier’s relationship with your company. If mis-aligned details become a recurring problem, it’s probably time to find a new supplier.

Non-Responsive to Outreach

When you can not reach your supplier, or attempt reaching them multiple times without any follow-up on their part, you should start to be wary.

Does the supplier not value your business? Do they lack the man-power or technology to field incoming communications and respond accurately and promptly? More importantly, how will their delayed responses effect your company if something goes wrong during a job or you need a piece of vital information to relay back to your customer?

A delayed response could have devastating costs in situations like these. Overall, it is hard to put a lot of trust in non-responsive suppliers as you never know when you’ll hear from them next.

Won’t Answer Direct Questions

As you know, suppliers with great communication can be relied upon time and time again as valuable components of your company. Generally, you have a detailed knowledge of these suppliers, and trust the information they provide.

However, the same can’t be said for suppliers who routinely dodge difficult questions or provide you with answers that don’t get to the core of what you’re asking immediately.

Whether they aren’t actively listening during your conversations or simply don’t have the adequate industry knowledge to appropriately answer, these are major causes for concern.

Effective communication is a cornerstone of strong relationships between your company and suppliers. Such relationships, especially with strategic suppliers, are often collaborative, and both your business and your supplier’s business grow together.

Conversely, poor supplier relationships present a threat to your business; however, it is possible to hedge against supplier risk. By identifying supplier risk via their communication practices, you can work to eliminate these suppliers from your business or reduce their role in your supply chain.

Ben Goldwasser works as a Business Development Lead for Spendrix, an organisation specialising in supplier risk and quality analysis in shipping and logistics.