3 tips to reduce shipping errors

Have you thought about what happens after you ship a cabinet or a casework project order? At the customer end? Experts say one of the top mistake woodworkers make is not inspecting the shipment before installation day. That’s when contractors learn, too late, that there are missing parts, defects, or cabinets are the wrong size, say industry experts.

Meticulous shop controls can avoid this situation, which creates customer frustration and affects cabinet maker’s reputation, plus the added expense of a post-shipment rerun. On average, an incomplete shipment costs a cabinet company about $1,000 to rectify, sometimes more if it means throwing the finishing department a rush order.


Here are 3 tips tfrom the industry best-practices to avoid incomplete shipments:


  1. Educate employees about the cost of an error in delivery and the impact of a missing part on the customer experience.

    This surprisingly simple step can make a world of difference. Inform everyone on the team – fabricators, assemblers, staging and shipping – how their work affects the last step of the project process which is installing those cabinets. Explain how a missing or missized corner cabinet will likely halt the installation. Even a missing back foot, or a damaged spacer, may mean the work must be suspended while lost parts are located, remade, or reshipped. And your customer may be unable to get a signoff, and do final billing, until that missing part shows up.

  2. Establish a system in your plant for tracking and replacing missing or damaged parts.

    Shipping incomplete orders most often results from a part that has gone missing during production. If a cabinet assembler notices the edgebanding is loose on a drawer front, put the work on hold, and remake that part right away. Don’t let the work proceed, expecting that part to magically catch up. Cabinet shops using WEB-CAB’s Production Assistant tracking tool tell us the ability of the system to track the status of each part – including remakes – is one of the things they like best about the system.

  3. Double check what goes into the truck.

    This is the failsafe for avoiding shipping errors. After quality control inspects and releases each cabinet for packaging, make sure every cabinet for that project is gathered for shipping, and its presence is confirmed. A paper packing list is the bare minimum required, but this approach is prone to errors too – team members may misread a label (and include an unrelated cabinet), or get distracted and make the most basic error – not transferring a package onto the truck.

Using a MES (Manufacturing Execution System), such as Production Assistant, could be an even better failsafe to automate shipping. By tracking every parts and items with barcode labels or RFID technology, you can see quickly if something on the packing list has not been loaded into the truck. And when a part is missing, the MES is able to locate it quickly in the plant, so it can be added to the rest of the order.

  • WEB-CAB Team