Something I Didn’t Know

There was an article in the N.Y. Times a few weeks back (“A Pro-Business City Policy Backfires on a Few,” Terry Pristin, Oct. 11, 2006) about a big real-estate deal in an industrial section of Brooklyn that will seriously raise the rents on a couple dozen businesses there. As a real-estate article, it was pretty standard fare. But one detail caught my eye. The article describes the work done by one of these businesses, called M. Franabar Associates, which “corrects mistakes in bulk orders arriving from manufacturers in China – the upside-down labels, the incorrect price tags and the missing bar codes.”

There is an accompanying photograph with perhaps 10 workers, all of them women, laboring over stacks and stacks of what look to be picture frames. I would really like to know what kind of manufacturer mistake necessitated the intervention of M. Franabar Associates. But more broadly, it got me to thinking about what other sort of “correcting” businesses might exist, or perhaps “repurposing” businesses that take a product that has for some reason become undesirable and turn it into something better. It is obvious that U.S. manufacturers make similar mistakes, but I am guessing the fail rate is higher in Asia. This seems to be an interesting wrinkle of global trade, and I am wondering if any of you know of other instances of such brush-up work being done.


jason

I don't know if this is helpful, but there is a whole business in reverse logistics. Companies are good at getting things in the hands of consumer, but the warehouse that sends products out probably isn't the same one that takes them back.

I've often wondered what happens to the things that can't be refurbished.

pat

There is a pretty significant industry of improving the quality of translation because the output of a translation company or freelancer wasn't usable. Sometimes people will also hire proofreaders to fix up something they write if they're not writing in their native language.

Don Robertson

Importing is tricky business, and oftentimes enough, importers miss out or simply find it more econmical to purchase goods that do not meet U.S. import law requirements, and then have them "upgraded", brought up to code, when they enter the country.

One example commonly overlooked, or as the case may be, ignored because the price overseas is better, is that each individual item manufactured outside the U.S. must be labled by law that it was Manufactured in China or Mexico or where ever.

This is just one example, but I'm sure there are many more. Standards, methods and customs simply vary so much worldwide, it's easy to see that either because of the cost-effectiveness of purchasing goods not originally intended to be exported into the U.S. market, or because of the original manufacturer's ignorance, items arrive on U.S. docks that are not ready to be moved ashore any further, and may face stiff penalties if they are.

It's not regulated yet as far as I know. But, a few years ago, I noticed a cute little knick-knack at a store. It was a small stuffed-animal kitten in a basket, imported from China. It was the cutest thing. Or, at least it was, until I noticed by touching it, that the fur used was actually cat fur. Meow!

Caveat emptor.

Don Robertson, The American Philosopher
Limestone, Maine

An Illustrated Philosophy Primer for Young Readers
Precious Life - Empirical Knowledge
The Grand Unifying Theory & The Theory of Time
http://www.geocities.com/donaldwrobertson/index.html
Art Auctions:
http://www.artbyus.com/auctions.php?a=6&b=4807

Read more...

Mike D

There are a number of companies that import bulk orders and simply repackage them for sale in the US under a different brand. Monster Cable is a good example. A friend of mine once visited a Monster facility and observed that pre-packaged cables would be opened, labeled, and stuffed into a new "Monster" package. This was awhile back, so I would guess by now they have their own sources, but it is a common way for a company to get started...

lhmpdx

I would guess that the leading company that "corrects mistakes" is Open DNS, which, among other things, fixes many typing errors for addresses in browsers. The NYTimes's David Pogue recently wrote about it here:
http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/11/01/a-faster-web-for-free/

Duffman

Much of the fashion industry operates in this manner. For example, I have a friend who has a large clothing line that sells items under it's own brand name. He simply goes to Hong Kong a few times a year to view garments from manufacturers, picks which ones he likes, pays bottom dollar for them, sews in branded tags and labels, and sells them at a large profit. It's very likely that someones $5 shirt and $100 shirt both came from the same place.

jafi

My sister works for an air freight company. Among their clients is a high end exercise equipment company that imports their treadmills from China. 80% of the treadmills need some sort of rework due to issues with manufacturing quality. Even with such a high rework rate they assert that is still cheaper to make them in China.

freakonomics5555

My company manufactures polymer resin. One time, the white pellets were contaminated by small black cylinders from material that got trapped in the process. Unfortunately, it looked like they were contaminated with rat turds.

We paid a firm who owned a color sorter to run our material through and separate out the black things. They routinely offered this service for customers who made more expensive, ($10/pound or so) engineering plastics that were contaminated.

MFranabar

I noticed that you showed some curiosity about what we do (Corrections & ReWorks) and why there is a need for our services. I'd be happy to explain.
We handle large quantities of merchandise usually imported from overseas- most often 10's of thousands of pieces. Although we've been doing this for sometime, the open trade policies to China that went into effect in 2005 spurred a ten-fold increase in orders to China. Imagine having 10 times the workload that you have now. No matter how efficient and careful you are- you will make mistakes.
It is obviously impractical to ship the goods back to the factory overseas to be corrected. Hence the need for us.
The kinds of things we correct most often are... Care Labels that have incorrect information; Ticketing, Bar Coding,or special Tagging that was omitted or incorrect; ReSorting of sizes, colors, styles, etc.; and helping our customers comply with Quality Control issues from major Chain Stores. When we complete a Correction or ReWork the consumer cannot notice that the item has been corrected or ReWorked. We are very good.
We put a great deal of effort and dilligence into the accuracy & consistency of our work and enjoy a good reputation as such.
I hope this has answered your questions.

Read more...

jason

I don't know if this is helpful, but there is a whole business in reverse logistics. Companies are good at getting things in the hands of consumer, but the warehouse that sends products out probably isn't the same one that takes them back.

I've often wondered what happens to the things that can't be refurbished.

pat

There is a pretty significant industry of improving the quality of translation because the output of a translation company or freelancer wasn't usable. Sometimes people will also hire proofreaders to fix up something they write if they're not writing in their native language.

Don Robertson

Importing is tricky business, and oftentimes enough, importers miss out or simply find it more econmical to purchase goods that do not meet U.S. import law requirements, and then have them "upgraded", brought up to code, when they enter the country.

One example commonly overlooked, or as the case may be, ignored because the price overseas is better, is that each individual item manufactured outside the U.S. must be labled by law that it was Manufactured in China or Mexico or where ever.

This is just one example, but I'm sure there are many more. Standards, methods and customs simply vary so much worldwide, it's easy to see that either because of the cost-effectiveness of purchasing goods not originally intended to be exported into the U.S. market, or because of the original manufacturer's ignorance, items arrive on U.S. docks that are not ready to be moved ashore any further, and may face stiff penalties if they are.

It's not regulated yet as far as I know. But, a few years ago, I noticed a cute little knick-knack at a store. It was a small stuffed-animal kitten in a basket, imported from China. It was the cutest thing. Or, at least it was, until I noticed by touching it, that the fur used was actually cat fur. Meow!

Caveat emptor.

Don Robertson, The American Philosopher
Limestone, Maine

An Illustrated Philosophy Primer for Young Readers
Precious Life - Empirical Knowledge
The Grand Unifying Theory & The Theory of Time
http://www.geocities.com/donaldwrobertson/index.html
Art Auctions:
http://www.artbyus.com/auctions.php?a=6&b=4807

Read more...

Mike D

There are a number of companies that import bulk orders and simply repackage them for sale in the US under a different brand. Monster Cable is a good example. A friend of mine once visited a Monster facility and observed that pre-packaged cables would be opened, labeled, and stuffed into a new "Monster" package. This was awhile back, so I would guess by now they have their own sources, but it is a common way for a company to get started...

lhmpdx

I would guess that the leading company that "corrects mistakes" is Open DNS, which, among other things, fixes many typing errors for addresses in browsers. The NYTimes's David Pogue recently wrote about it here:
http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/11/01/a-faster-web-for-free/

Duffman

Much of the fashion industry operates in this manner. For example, I have a friend who has a large clothing line that sells items under it's own brand name. He simply goes to Hong Kong a few times a year to view garments from manufacturers, picks which ones he likes, pays bottom dollar for them, sews in branded tags and labels, and sells them at a large profit. It's very likely that someones $5 shirt and $100 shirt both came from the same place.

jafi

My sister works for an air freight company. Among their clients is a high end exercise equipment company that imports their treadmills from China. 80% of the treadmills need some sort of rework due to issues with manufacturing quality. Even with such a high rework rate they assert that is still cheaper to make them in China.

freakonomics5555

My company manufactures polymer resin. One time, the white pellets were contaminated by small black cylinders from material that got trapped in the process. Unfortunately, it looked like they were contaminated with rat turds.

We paid a firm who owned a color sorter to run our material through and separate out the black things. They routinely offered this service for customers who made more expensive, ($10/pound or so) engineering plastics that were contaminated.

MFranabar

I noticed that you showed some curiosity about what we do (Corrections & ReWorks) and why there is a need for our services. I'd be happy to explain.
We handle large quantities of merchandise usually imported from overseas- most often 10's of thousands of pieces. Although we've been doing this for sometime, the open trade policies to China that went into effect in 2005 spurred a ten-fold increase in orders to China. Imagine having 10 times the workload that you have now. No matter how efficient and careful you are- you will make mistakes.
It is obviously impractical to ship the goods back to the factory overseas to be corrected. Hence the need for us.
The kinds of things we correct most often are... Care Labels that have incorrect information; Ticketing, Bar Coding,or special Tagging that was omitted or incorrect; ReSorting of sizes, colors, styles, etc.; and helping our customers comply with Quality Control issues from major Chain Stores. When we complete a Correction or ReWork the consumer cannot notice that the item has been corrected or ReWorked. We are very good.
We put a great deal of effort and dilligence into the accuracy & consistency of our work and enjoy a good reputation as such.
I hope this has answered your questions.

Read more...