“I Don’t Know” and Other Barriers

My biggest challenge on any given day comes in the form of human communication.

The most consistent, frustrating, and oddly humorous example of this happens during shipping and receiving.

Some of our larger industrial customers ship parts to us via freight truck. I don’t mean small packages coming via UPS: customers hire a private freight company to drop hundreds of parts off for blasting and coating, and/or to pick them back up when they’re done. The truck driver is a third party in this exchange – they don’t work for Kaser, and they don’t work for the client. They’ve been hired to get the parts from point A to point B.

Here’s an example of an exchange that happens all-too-often when a truck driver comes in to pick up:

Truck driver: “I’m here to pick up.”

Me: “OK, who are you picking up for?”

TD: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Do you know what parts you’re picking up?”

TD: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Do you know how many pallets you’re picking up?”

TD: “No. All they told me was to come to Kaser and pick up.” (Here’s the problem: at any given time, we could have hundreds of parts on campus, from numerous clients. If we want to send the driver back with the right parts, we really have to work hard to figure out which ones they came for.)

Me: “Do you have paperwork?”

TD: “It’s in the truck.”

The paperwork can be a hard copy or digital and can be tough to decipher. The information we need is usually formatted with the trucking company’s name at the top, followed by the pickup location (Kaser), followed by the destination and a vague description of the parts they’re picking up.

With a little bit of creative thinking and checking against our outgoing packing slips, the correct parts end up getting loaded on the truck.

Drop offs can be similarly strange. The driver is more likely to know what company they’re dropping off for, since they just came from there, but they’re often hesitant to tell us. This is a problem, because we like to log what parts are coming in – we work hard to keep accurate records of what’s been dropped off, when, and by whom. We ask the driver who they’re with (“trucking company A”), who they’re dropping off for (“I don’t know”), how many parts they’re bringing (“I don’t know, I’ve got some pallets”), whether they have paperwork (“yeah, I can’t show you. I’m only supposed to give it to the forklift driver”).

Once we convince the truck driver to let us read the paperwork, we are able to figure out what the delivery is, we can check it in, radio the forklift driver, and get the parts unloaded.

We are committed to facilitating a fast and painless drop-off and pick-up process, but we do need a small amount of information in order to make that happen. Communication benefits everyone involved.

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