Holding Mill Accountable for Lack of Consistency in Stock
I ran into a “situation” the other day. It’s the sort of situation that happens in this business with a high mean and an exponential distribution. It can happen, but that doesn’t mean it should happen.
Here’s the background. Our client, a major retailer, awarded us a big program—ongoing execution of its loyalty program welcome kits. These weren’t simple kits. They’re totally data-driven and duplex laser imaged throughout with multiple personalized offer cards attached. The sheets are assembled, stitched and inserted with other materials into a closed-face envelope. It’s a match of more than 10 items with 2D barcodes up the ying yang.
Prior to starting the job, we rigorously and laboriously tested the paper stock. Tested, tested again, and then tested until the cows came home.
After the first batch of stock yielded 1.5 million kits, we reordered the same stock from the same manufacturer and undertook exactly the same production process. But when the shells arrived at the lasers for imaging, they started twisting and misfeeding. Production plummeted by 40 percent and rubber bands started appearing all over the machines like chicken pox on a first grader. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another—a situation.
I examined the new stock and compared it to the old shells. You know, the stuff we tested like crazy and with which we had never had problems. The two didn’t match up. I went into full-on investigative mode. The old paper mic’d 4.8 and had a true matte finish. The new stock mic’d 4.2 with more of a dull finish.
My heart raced. Had I made a terrible mistake? Had I mistakenly ordered the wrong stuff?
I checked my PO. Whew, no problem there. Next possibility…Had the mill shipped the wrong item? I checked the roll manifest. Nope, it matched the PO. Was it the wrong basis weight? No, stocks were both 80#-lb. text.