Pallet Risks - Handwritten Dockets

There is a place for using handwritten pallet dockets but their use can be high risk. Wherever possible you should use a pallet control system, ideally an online one.

We have been helping a small food processing company in NSW who ended up in a heap of pain through the misuse of handwritten pallet dockets. They had been writing up handwritten pallet dockets for their despatches to customers and carriers. Unfortunately, due to staff turnover and a lack of controls the pallet dockets were never submitted to the pallet hire company and thus several thousand pallets were never transferred off their account. This had been going on for several years.

As in many small and even larger businesses there are many conflicting priorities and pallets can be low on the list. There is no doubt that there would have been an awareness that all was not well as a clear indicator would be the increasing hire balance and pallet hire costs. By the time the problem was addressed some of the receivers had ceased trading whilst others would not accept the old claims. Some compensation for the lost equipment had to be paid to the pallet hire company.

We have seen similar cases where handwritten pallet dockets have gone missing and pallets lost. This is true particularly for carriers where drivers are often relied on to raise pallet dockets.

If you use a pallet control system then at least you have a record of the pallet movement and it can be exported to the pallet hire companies very quickly. With some carriers it can take weeks before the pallet dockets find their way from drivers to their pallet controller. If the receiver asks for a copy of a docket and you can't provide it in a timely manner then your transfer can get rejected.

Lengthy delays in getting pallet dockets to the pallet controller can mean that your end of month pallet reconciliation would be inaccurate as missing dockets would not be taken into account.

Another disadvantage of handwritten pallet dockets is that wrong account numbers could be used and the transfer is either rejected or does not get processed. In a pallet control system it is likely that the pallet account numbers would be available and they would be accurate.

Carriers who believe they cannot avoid the use of handwritten pallet dockets may need to look at other options, such as changing staff hours or training other staff in the use of a pallet control system.

If you do use handwritten books you should look at minimising their use and, at the very least, have a register of who has the books and ensure that you check them regularly and be able to account for every single docket.

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