Subscribe to Email Updates

Select Topics

Latest Blog Post

What Does a Car Service Have to Do with Cycle Counting?

Matt Yearling
by Matt Yearling on Oct 31, 2016 7:00:00 AM

The simple answer is – EVERYTHING!

Let me briefly describe my recent car service experience and then you’ll understand why I say this and why an alternative approach to the problem is required.

I dropped off my car for a routine service and stated to the service manager that the headlights on one side of the car were non-functional. After noting my feedback and confirming the details of this technologically advanced hybrid vehicle, we shook hands and said our goodbyes.

As you would expect in this day and age, the automotive technician has a complete checklist of what needs to be done for the car based on the service milestone. He or she connects their computer to the car’s onboard diagnostics (ODB) port and runs a series of tests. Any specific notes from the service manager is read and then the technician systematically goes through the process of checking everything as noted in the Multipoint Inspection checklist. Once the job is complete, the car is assigned back to the service manager for the customer to pick-up.

Here is a scanned copy of the actual Multipoint Inspection checklist I received.


When the service manager handed this checklist to me, I noted everything was checked off GREEN, including my headlights. To be sure I asked, “Are the headlights working now?” “Yes, sir, 100%,” was his response.

Unfortunately, when I received the vehicle the headlights were NOT working. Why?

1. The automotive technician failed to check the headlights and noted that everything was operative. This was clearly an error.


2. The service manager had the opportunity to check the quality of automotive technician’s work. Whether he did or not, the manager passed the car with a 100% rating and suggested I give a great survey (smiley face included).


So what do I believe went wrong here and how does this relate to cycle counting?

  • Just like the automotive technician, if a forklift driver is presented with an exception in putting product away, it’s probably easier to complete the task and not deal with the exception.
  • Checking the quality of completed tasks maybe done in an ad hoc fashion. Checking the count and location of goods is never all encompassing. In the automotive example, the quality check gave 100%. I often hear perceived inventory accuracy rates of up to 99%. If you have a human checking the quality of tasks executed by a human, it will never be 100% or 99%, for that matter.

In both cases you are depending on a highly trained worker, following a well-structured repetitive set of tasks, flawlessly every time. Even if the person is assisted with technology, or additional quality checks are executed, errors still occur for a variety of reasons. I have personally lost count of the number of times I have seen this in the supply chain. After talking to several warehouse workers and general managers from the largest organizations in the world, what I have observed is artificially inflated accuracy statistics. Why? Because just like the service manager asking for a fantastic survey review, accuracy numbers are directly connected to compensation. Also, service departments are just like warehouse operations, dealing with many parallel tasks and a mountain of work, so it is not surprising that errors do occur.

So there you have it. People are prone to mistakes and errors will occur. This is the reason why I believe that automating the repetitive process of inventory reconciliation with autonomous robots is the only way that large companies will be able to deliver on the promise of inventory accuracy and velocity.

Click here to read the original post on Talking Logistics.

Leave a comment

Matt Yearling
Written by Matt Yearling
CEO PINC Solutions. Matt Yearling joined PINC Solutions as chief executive officer in March 2013 and is responsible for the overall strategic and operational management of the company. He has an extensive 25 year track record of developing and bringing to market ERP, CRM, supply chain and security business solutions across the global SMB, enterprise, healthcare and public sector market segments. Most recently, Matt was vice president and general manager of Encryption Products at Symantec Corporation where he delivered market-leading encryption offerings across the endpoint, cloud, and mobility product families. Prior to Symantec, Matt was the senior vice president of Global CRM Product Development at Sage Inc., where he was responsible for the entire CRM product family, cloud solutions, mobility, platform development, in addition to owning a number of strategic technology initiatives across Sage Group. Prior to Sage, he served as the senior vice president and chief technology officer for Embarcadero Systems Corp (a Ports America company), where he delivered a variety of cloud solutions to many of the world’s largest transportation supply chain companies. Matt also spent over 15 years at Oracle Corporation holding several executive roles before becoming vice president of Oracle On Demand where he enabled it to become Oracle's fastest growing line-of-business. Matt holds a HND in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Plymouth, England, and a MS in Technology Management from Pepperdine University.
Written by Author

Related posts

Transportation Trends: The Rise of Digital Freight Matching

As shippers continue to face challenges like the truck driver shortage, capacity crunches, and rising freight costs, digital...

Rafael Granato
By Rafael Granato - July 16, 2019
Robotics Leaders Join Forces at ProMat 2019

As markets demand not only efficiency but agility and flexibility from supply chains, next-generation models are successfully...

Rafael Granato
By Rafael Granato - March 28, 2019
Number-one Talking Logistics post of 2018!

In the very last days of 2018, we received a very flattering note from Adrian Gonzalez informing us that our CEO's guest...

Rafael Granato
By Rafael Granato - January 3, 2019