When the nature of goods to be received is known, appropriate preparations can be performed. Space may have to be cleared, which may require planning and performing the relocation of other items. High quantity orders may require more operators and equipment, so other operations could be suspended and shifts may have to be revised. Special goods may require specialist PPE, handling operations, security/safety checks and documentation, and location adjustments. Equipment may also have to undergo performance checks.
The incoming goods zone of the facility should be checked prior to any/all deliveries as a matter of routine, but checked especially carefully and systematically ahead of any priority, unusual, or high volume deliveries. The delivery zone should be uncluttered and free of any spills, trip hazards, or potential obstructions. All equipment considered necessary for handling should be present, but in its designated area. PPE should be worn by all staff handling or in the vicinity of controlled substances. Floors should be tidy and cleaned of any spillages or matter likely to cause slips or friction. Ideally such preparatory processes will be formally listed and systematically applied by a foreman, but understood and engaged with by all concerned operatives.
Goods received should undergo a few basic checks. This will reduce the likelihood of customers receiving a wrong order, avoid refunds, and prevent faulty or incorrect items entering the inventory in place of functioning and correct items. If problematic goods are identified very early, it may be possible to return them to the supplier on the same vehicle that delivered them. This will enable rapid restock and minimize wasted storage space and handling costs.
Quantity matching is a simple but powerful check. The quantity delivered must match the quantity ordered. It is possible that a load can be under-quantity due to a manufacturing issue (this is particularly common if an agile or make-to-order system is in operation). However, management should have forward notice of this. Quantity checks can often be done visually, based on pallet loads, for example, if the goods are uniformly cartonized. Irregularly packaged goods should be sorted, if possible, into some order that enables quantification. An operative may be specially tasked to tally goods as they are unloaded before they are placed in their storage locations.
The description of goods can be readily checked for parity with the actual items delivered. This is possibly the easiest check to perform – if volumes are low and the items are visibly distinguishable. Large quantities of items that are homogenous in appearance but different in internal specification, such as technical components, textiles, or paper records, are very difficult to match to their descriptions, however. It might be possible to have somebody with specialist knowledge present to check every 10th carton, for example, to mitigate against mismatch. In other words, perform methodical “sampling”.
Weight can in many cases be estimated. Some loading zones will be equipped with floor scales. Cranes and hoists may be fitted with load cells/strain gauges to report the weight of their loads. Some specifications of forklift can also report the weight of a load, but these typically give low resolution readings. However, depending on the nature of the goods, approximate weight readings might be sufficient. Identification of gross mismatches between ordered and received may be the only priority. If low weights must be matched, then it is unlikely that any normal delivery/reception processes will be applied. This will be a delicate operation possibly conducted in a specially designed area using specialist equipment and expert staff.