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Written by LeRoi Cochran

You can’t manage what you can’t measure

It’s no secret that quality is tough to manage in the recycled pallets business. With little control over the quality of essential material inputs (i.e. used pallets), a pallet recycler must rely almost entirely on the actions of individual saw operators and builders to ensure consistency of production for its customers. The challenge is compounded when nearly 40 facilities and thousands of employees across the country are each responsible for delivering the same consistent pallet spec to the same customers.

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But even in the imperfect world of recycled pallets, consistency and quality are possible. It requires a multi-level plan with commitment both from the top down and the bottom up. For 48forty, a successful quality program across nearly 40 sites requires a dedicated Quality Manager, a series of training and certification programs and closely-monitored site-level Key Performance Indicators.

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48forty has a rigorous Builder Training Program, which helps ensure a standardized pallet repair program in place for all 48forty locations. The program includes education on safety in the workplace, pallet specifications, pallet repair criteria, and important considerations when repairing a pallet. Each facility is tasked with ensuring all repairmen complete the Builder Training Certification, comply with builder training documentation, complete various quizzes and a final exam, and closely monitor repairmen performance through Acceptable Quality Level (AQL) daily audits per builder.

Of course, our customers are the final judge of quality, so multiple feedback loops are in place. First, we ensure our quality is in line with our customers’ expectations from the first load with our new customer survey. We also have a detailed Root Cause Corrective Action process, involving the site-level management as well as the national account manager, if applicable, with oversight by the Quality Manager. We are constantly refining our processes, and this attention to quality and consistency is just one of the many ways we ensure a better customer experience.