It’s more or less an exact science!

December 30th, 2008 | Uncategorized

Many of you who read our blog on a regular basis will perhaps already know of my frustrations regarding the sometimes seemingly casual approach to business here in Spain. No matter how much careful planning and forethought you put in, the sad fact is that it is quite normal for at least one of your suppliers to let you down. To illustrate the point I thought that I would quickly tell of my most recent experiences….

We recently received our first order from one of the UK’s most prestigious retail chains, so naturally we wanted everything to be perfect. The order was for a finite amount of wine, so in terms of ‘dry goods’ we knew, down to the last label, exactly what we would need. I should mention that, in the case of the labels and cartons, these would both be printed with lot numbers, and so too little would render us short, whilst too many would simply go down as waste.

We therefore specified very clearly (confirmed in writing) to both our label and carton producers the exact numbers that we would require, but that they should also allow a small margin for error over and above our actual order – we did suggest the amount that we would consider acceptable.

Of course you can guess what happened, but as always, the logic left me scratching my head.

In the case of the front label, the over-run was more than 15% (which was far more than we had suggested), whereas the back label over-run was 0%. Yes, they actually sent the exact number that we needed for the order, so in effect, we could not damage or lose one single label during bottling! Now, anyone who knows anything about bottling will know how difficult this is to achieve, and more especially with a label that we have never used before.

The cartons were actually worse. Despite telling our representative that he should personally supervise the production run himself we ended up with very nearly 25% more cases than we actually ordered. All printed with lot numbers and vintages that cannot be used for future orders.

Now I can imagine the response that we would get if our US importer ordered 400 cases of wine, but we actually sent him 500 – I don’t think that we would stay in business for too long!

I know for a fact (because I have seen them) that the machines that produce these goods all have electronic counters, indeed, some are computer controlled, so in my opinion I am not sure how they can possibly justify such mistakes. No doubt I will find out!

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