The Planet of Missing Shipments. (hint: it's next to the planet of missing socks)

Upon taking over the reins here at Intelyt, I was pondering the content of my first blog post. We provide a visibility and tracking solution for your high-value and critical assets that ship locally, nationally or globally.  We've built the solution from the ground up to be provided as a service.  We'll cover more about how we developed our solution in future posts.

What defines a high-value or critical shipment or asset? High value - that's obvious.  It's valuable items, or intellectual property, and you need to know if something has gone astray.  Critical, on the other hand, doesn't mean they're high-value, but it does mean that if the shipment of $1 parts doesn't arrive on time, some other aspect of your business is going to be affected: customer service, a production line going down, and so on.   

So, here at Intelyt, we're in the midst of a very large solution deployment for a high-tech client that needs to keep a close eye on their valuable IP as it moves around the world. The deployment is large enough that it required us to look to some alternative suppliers to deal with the production volume.  And wouldn't you know it - a carton of the lowest cost item, with the longest lead-time and critical to final assembly of our tracking devices (we call iTAGs) has gone missing.   It didn't happen on the truck from Shenzhen to the airport, and it wasn't before or after the flight from overseas into the US.   It occurred between a Bay Area FedEx sorting facility here on the West Coast, and our office.  

Who knows who was at fault - I'm not jumping to any conclusions.  How can I? I don't have any data to help me understand what went wrong.  All I know is the carton was scanned as it left the local facility.  It was "on-the-truck" and "out for delivery". And now, it's on the planet where all the partial shipments of boxes go when they don't arrive at their destination.

It's no longer just a box of low-cost parts.  It's now an expedited shipment from China.  It's 6 hours of time on the phone trying to locate the missing box. It's 72 hours of delays and establishing the impact on our client delivery.  It's rescheduling production of our iTAGs, and the associated costs to get this back on the production schedule with our local manufacturer.  We'll make the delivery schedule for the client, but it's going to be expensive.  Anyone feeling the pain?

Did we eat our own dog food?  Nope. And safe to say we have egg on our face.   With our own  solution we could have let FedEx know where the parcel was. By simply asking our supplier to slap one of our iTAGs on the boxes being delivered, we would have been able to check on the shipment at anytime, and identified the location. When that box separated from the rest of the shipment, we would have received an alert.

During our "learning-after-doing" review, we realized we should of evaluated the situation beforehand and said "this is a project without a great deal of lag time, what can we do to mitigate the risks?"  For a few bucks a shipment, it would have saved us money, time, and most importantly, the impact on the customer.

Hey, the carton might turn up, but like anyone who operates in the world of "just-in-time" we've borne all the expenses now.  If it does, I'll put one of those parts on my desk so we never, ever, forget.

Yep. That hurt.  But I guess I should be thankful in someway.  I now have yet another great case study, and without it, I'd still be looking for that first blog post.

(It's my initials, not a state of mind)