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Where is the PCGS bottleneck? Grading or Encapsulation?

ProofCollectionProofCollection Posts: 5,382 ✭✭✭✭✭

Just curious if there is any consensus on where the bottleneck is for getting coins back. Originally I would have thought Grading as that's where the coins seem to sit for the longest and obv that step takes a lot of skill and experience, but I have had a few orders stuck in "Encapsulation" for over a week. I wouldn't think the process of sticking a coin in the plastic and using the machine would take that long, but maybe there is more to this step than I realize. Or possibly the machine is broken or they ran out of slabs?

Comments

  • raysrays Posts: 2,328 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't know but the turnaround time for regular service is listed as 50 business days, my latest order has been at PCGS for over 60 business days and is still listed as scheduled for grading. I have never seen these kinds of grading delays before.

  • djmdjm Posts: 1,558 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ProofCollection said:
    Just curious if there is any consensus on where the bottleneck is for getting coins back. Originally I would have thought Grading as that's where the coins seem to sit for the longest and obv that step takes a lot of skill and experience, but I have had a few orders stuck in "Encapsulation" for over a week. I wouldn't think the process of sticking a coin in the plastic and using the machine would take that long, but maybe there is more to this step than I realize. Or possibly the machine is broken or they ran out of slabs?

    If you read PCGS's definition of Encapsulation it is more than just putting the coin in plastic. Encapsulation also includes the finalizer agreeing with the grade assigned to the coin. Some times the coin goes back to the grading room if the finalizer doesn't agree with the grade.

  • ChrisH821ChrisH821 Posts: 6,320 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm betting it's imaging.
    Now that regular service includes TrueViews I'm sure volume has gone up significantly for the photo department.

    Collector, occasional seller

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It may well be the volume of business being received and the capacity to handle said volume. Cheers, RickO

  • skier07skier07 Posts: 3,682 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 28, 2022 9:00AM

    From what I’ve been told PCGS doesn’t have as many graders as they did pre-pandemic and they have lots of new graders who work at a slower pace. Grading is going to be more conservative with new graders.

  • MaywoodMaywood Posts: 1,884 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The actual process of "Grading" a coin is very short, perhaps 10-20 seconds, so that isn't the problem. All the other steps in the process consume way more time but that in itself isn't the problem. It is almost certainly as ricko stated, overall volume. It seems that it began during the COVID-19 shutdown/slowdown when everything in the submission process slowed for an extended period --- everything except coins being submitted which probably stayed constant or increased.

    This sort of thing has happened in the past. During the hectic period from 2002-2006(sometime around there) I seem to remember economy getting to 60-75 days. Things were so log-jammed at PCGS that many loyal customers went to NGC until times shortened at PCGS. At that time, the thinking was that even though an NGC encapsulated coin was worth less than the PCGS encapsulated coin that it was better to keep the money flowing. There was also a very common belief, right or wrong, that a PCGS MS65 would get graded at NGC as an MS66 and the point of sale cost would even out.

    Things were pretty weird back then.

  • GoldenEggGoldenEgg Posts: 1,923 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Maywood said:
    All the other steps in the process consume way more time but that in itself isn't the problem. It is almost certainly as ricko stated, overall volume.

    Every process has a bottleneck. Sometimes there is more than one. The key to making things faster is to identify those bottlenecks and do what it takes to reduce “wait time” at that point in the process.

    Yes, volume likely impacts the turnaround times, but in order to improve a process, or scale a process with limited resources/staff, you need to know what your bottlenecks are.

  • MaywoodMaywood Posts: 1,884 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Since it seems to take 3-4 weeks for images to be posted, no matter what the "Service Level" might be, that would seem to be your supposed bottleneck. If that's the case it seems to me that the problem won't be solved until the sheer volume of coin images being requested shrinks. Hiring an additional photographer to take the actual images doesn't seem like something that could be done easily, PCGS would lose the consistency that Phil has given to the service.

  • No HeadlightsNo Headlights Posts: 2,036 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have had an order there over 60 days. i would suggest to them that they stop on-site grading at shows until they can resolve their personnel issues. Why take a grading crew off site when you are so far behind? It would seem likely that this would help alleviate the long wait times. It seems our host has more than enough revenue coming right to their door already. Just my opinion.

  • jesbrokenjesbroken Posts: 9,254 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I do not have a problem with the time it takes to round trip a coin for grading. I do have a problem with the imaging time lag. I thought the photos were taken when raw and not after slabbing. I must be wrong, as there should be no problem from the paper work to place the photos in the computer not taking months. Sorry, but I will no longer spend 5 to 6 months just to get nice photos and the research capabilities of TV's. JMO
    Jim


    When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease to be honest....Abraham Lincoln

    Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.....Mark Twain
  • jessewvujessewvu Posts: 5,063 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My latest order has been sitting in encapsulation for over a month, moved to QA earlier this week.

    So, my vote is encapsulation…

  • CatbertCatbert Posts: 6,600 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @No Headlights said:
    I have had an order there over 60 days. i would suggest to them that they stop on-site grading at shows until they can resolve their personnel issues. Why take a grading crew off site when you are so far behind? It would seem likely that this would help alleviate the long wait times.

    Then the dealer customers would scream big time.

    "Got a flaming heart, can't get my fill"
  • ProofCollectionProofCollection Posts: 5,382 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @ChrisH821 said:
    I'm betting it's imaging.
    Now that regular service includes TrueViews I'm sure volume has gone up significantly for the photo department.

    Except there is a distinct progress stop that sasy "Being Imaged" so we'd know if that was the cause.

    My Express order was received on May 2 and is stuck in Encapsulation status without "Being Imaged."

    @Maywood said:
    Since it seems to take 3-4 weeks for images to be posted, no matter what the "Service Level" might be, that would seem to be your supposed bottleneck. If that's the case it seems to me that the problem won't be solved until the sheer volume of coin images being requested shrinks. Hiring an additional photographer to take the actual images doesn't seem like something that could be done easily, PCGS would lose the consistency that Phil has given to the service.

    The posting of the image seems to be independent of the photo being taken.

    @No Headlights said:
    I have had an order there over 60 days. i would suggest to them that they stop on-site grading at shows until they can resolve their personnel issues. Why take a grading crew off site when you are so far behind? It would seem likely that this would help alleviate the long wait times. It seems our host has more than enough revenue coming right to their door already. Just my opinion.

    That is a very prudent measure to take.

    It seems like PCGS is not updating it's website given that my Express order is at 20 business days. Although to be fair the website says these are average times, so if I'm at 20 someone is getting theirs after 10 (and I'm not optimistic mine will go out on Tuesday):

  • jonrunsjonruns Posts: 1,196 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I am too old to wait 3 months for anything.

  • CameonutCameonut Posts: 7,256 ✭✭✭✭✭

    In manufacturing, you typically try to balance the workload at each step of the process. Most often this is done by balancing capacity. If you need another machine to increase throughput - you buy it - unless it is prohibitively expensive. Then chase the bottleneck around the process.

    I cannot imagine a scenario where the most expensive and precious resources (graders) is NOT the bottleneck. I have never heard an instance where the graders were sitting around doing nothing while coins were stacking up elsewhere.

    “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." - Thomas Jefferson

    My digital cameo album 1950-64 Cameos - take a look!

  • MaywoodMaywood Posts: 1,884 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I cannot imagine a scenario where the most expensive and precious resources (graders) is NOT the bottleneck.

    If we are already waiting for a few weeks at encapsulation and about a month for an image to post, how would adding graders to speed up that part of the process and put more coins at encapsulation and imaging solve anything??

  • skier07skier07 Posts: 3,682 ✭✭✭✭✭

    PCGS appears to be short staffed across the board.

    https://careers.collectors.com/

  • BAJJERFANBAJJERFAN Posts: 30,987 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have to wonder if there is still THAT MUCH stuff out there in dire need of grading. I bet they sometimes shake their heads at some of the stuff that comes in. Throw out all of the widgets and 1 grader might be enough.

  • burfle23burfle23 Posts: 2,190 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My "Express" order has been sitting as "Received" for a week and counting...

  • davewesendavewesen Posts: 5,842 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I suspect cost of living (and possibly other things) prevents most people from wanting to work or move to Santa Ana, California, If they had a satellite facility somewhere like Las Vegas, increasing employees and order turnaround might be better.

  • skier07skier07 Posts: 3,682 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @davewesen said:
    I suspect cost of living (and possibly other things) prevents most people from wanting to work or move to Santa Ana, California, If they had a satellite facility somewhere like Las Vegas, increasing employees and order turnaround might be better.

    Cost of living is definitely a factor but PCGS didn’t have these problems two years ago.

  • CameonutCameonut Posts: 7,256 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Maywood said:
    I cannot imagine a scenario where the most expensive and precious resources (graders) is NOT the bottleneck.

    If we are already waiting for a few weeks at encapsulation and about a month for an image to post, how would adding graders to speed up that part of the process and put more coins at encapsulation and imaging solve anything??

    Perhaps I could have been clearer by adding "under normal conditions".
    Nobody would set up a process where low value steps are bottlenecks.
    That said, who knows what is going on at PCGS. Maybe they ran out of holders, maybe labels, maybe ink for the labels, and on and on. It could be anything.

    I sure wish this whole country could bet back to some semblance of normal.

    “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." - Thomas Jefferson

    My digital cameo album 1950-64 Cameos - take a look!

  • davewesendavewesen Posts: 5,842 ✭✭✭✭✭

    is it possible that submission volume has double or tripled during the pandemic and mint 100th anniversary Morgan issues?

  • OnWithTheHuntOnWithTheHunt Posts: 1,175 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Four months and waiting here.

    Proud recipient of the coveted "You Suck Award" (9/3/10).
  • Project NumismaticsProject Numismatics Posts: 1,333 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The business question is whether the turnaround time is costing business - i.e. how many people either don’t submit or submit to a competitor because the turnaround time is too long? The only incentive to increase throughput is to increase the bottom line. If they think a recession is coming and that submissions will revert to historical norms, that might also be a disincentive to ramp up - hiring and training is expensive.

  • skier07skier07 Posts: 3,682 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The delay in turnaround time can’t be helping business. Collectors in general, myself included, don’t have the patience to wait four months to get a coin graded. Dealers with capital tied up can’t afford to wait forever. I know multiple people who are either submitting elsewhere or not renewing their membership.

  • ProofCollectionProofCollection Posts: 5,382 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @J2035 said:
    The business question is whether the turnaround time is costing business - i.e. how many people either don’t submit or submit to a competitor because the turnaround time is too long? The only incentive to increase throughput is to increase the bottom line. If they think a recession is coming and that submissions will revert to historical norms, that might also be a disincentive to ramp up - hiring and training is expensive.

    Or the question could be, if PCGS could get back to "normal" waiting times would PCGS steal market share from the competition?

    If the spike is temporary, there are other measures PCGS could employ as well, such as overtime incentives. Unclear if they're doing anything like that.

  • Personally, I've stopped submitting to PCGS and moved on to NGC. Turnaround times are way, way faster. I don't want to wait 4-5 months for my coins to get back to me.

  • CatbertCatbert Posts: 6,600 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @skier07 said:
    PCGS appears to be short staffed across the board.

    https://careers.collectors.com/

    True, but only 2 of the listings are associated with their PCGS division.

    "Got a flaming heart, can't get my fill"
  • ProofCollectionProofCollection Posts: 5,382 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 1, 2022 2:38PM

    Don't know if it's just me but the My Orders page is flaky yesterday and today. Sometimes it doesn't come up. When I click on some orders, the order details page doesn't come up, it just goes back to the My Orders page. Got an email that my grades are ready but I can't get the page to come up. The suspense is killing me. When the pages for orders that are working do come up, the progress indicator isn't where the order summary page says it should be.

    Incidentally, the order with grades available is my Modern Value order with 2 Platinum Eagles received May 4th. I have an Express order received May 2nd and it's still in Encapsulation.

    From that, and something I've always suspected, is that certain mint issues (like the platinum eagles) get expedited sometimes, like they have dedicated graders for recent mint issues and can grade them a lot quicker. I suspect turnaround on a Proof Gold Buffalo is pretty quick right now too.

    Edited to add: Another interesting data point... I sent in 3 restoration submissions. 2 Received Apri 1 (2 raw coins - a buffalo and a dime), the second was one slabbed dime), the third on Apr 5 (1 high valued Morgan). The Morgan was shipped back to me a month later, the other two haven't moved.

  • ProofCollectionProofCollection Posts: 5,382 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 7, 2022 7:08AM

    Another interesting data point.
    My Express Crossover of 1 coins: Received 5/2 has been in QA for about 2 weeks and I just got notification that it DNC (Did Not Cross).
    My Modern Value submission of 2 platinum eagles received 5/4 shipped out Jun 1.

    On a DNC, I don't understand why that was stuck in QA for 2 weeks. It's hard to imagine that there's a lot of QA to do when you get a DNC, all they have to do is return it. In fact, I had thought that because it took so long that surely it had crossed. PCGS, you tricked me!

    Edited to add: One more interesting thing: Got the "Grades Ready" email at 2:30am (Pacific time). Usually these come in the afternoon.

  • TwoSides2aCoinTwoSides2aCoin Posts: 43,832 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 7, 2022 7:15AM

    What happens when a company no longer answers to shareholders ? My two submissions , over a year, take nearly a year in house. But, in fairness; the second submission, still in, consisted of four different tiers. Errors, crossover, gold, and regular .

  • lermishlermish Posts: 1,916 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @TwoSides2aCoin said:
    What happens when a company no longer answers to shareholders ? My two submissions , over a year, take nearly a year in house. But, in fairness; the second submission, still in, consisted of four different tiers. Errors, crossover, gold, and regular .

    Do you mean us? We're customers, not shareholders. We vote with our dollars.

    The only thing any company owes to its shareholders is its best effort at driving current and future profits. My suspicion is that the private equity firms that bought PCGS couldn't be happier with their investment so far but since we can't review their financials that's only a guess.

  • ProofCollectionProofCollection Posts: 5,382 ✭✭✭✭✭

    lermish is right, the company still answers to shareholders. Being private doesn't mean there are no shareholders.

  • youniqueyounique Posts: 882 ✭✭✭

    Dawned on me that I sent in a submission which was received on 4/8 so I called PCGS. Received a message that there were 39 callers ahead of me & longest wait time would be 86 minutes. Not interested enough to endure an hour and a half waiting to find out.

  • ProofCollectionProofCollection Posts: 5,382 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @younique said:
    Dawned on me that I sent in a submission which was received on 4/8 so I called PCGS. Received a message that there were 39 callers ahead of me & longest wait time would be 86 minutes. Not interested enough to endure an hour and a half waiting to find out.

    CAlled this morning there was 17 callers. IT's nice that they'll call you back though so you don't have to wait.

  • kruegerkrueger Posts: 805 ✭✭✭

    Four calendar months for me that's 80 working days on a 50 day submittal!
    Very hard to update a registry set when you don't know what you have. I have missed some opportunities to purchase as can't afford doubles.
    NGC registry allows mix PCGS and NGC. Better way to compete I am thinking now. Plus much faster turnaround that's reasonable.
    Probably lots of resources and focus going to the collectors Universe move to New Jersey and focusing big time on enhancing PSA I am speculating here.

  • No HeadlightsNo Headlights Posts: 2,036 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As I said in another post. Quit taking graders off site for on-site show grading. Take care of the customers in the order they submitted. By the service chosen of course. Treat everyone equally. JMHO

  • MaywoodMaywood Posts: 1,884 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Treat everyone equally.

    This isn't realistic, the graders will grade where the highest margin for profit exists, that is off-site, bulk and the highest service level. As many have stated in this thread already, the only real solution individually is to hold off on submitting till things get straightened out. That sounds wrong on its face, but there is just something unsettling for me to think that MY coins are sitting in limbo somewhere out in California for four months. :o

  • Submitted bank notes and coins together. All were received on 4/7. I Received the graded bank notes By the end of April. The coins are still listed as grading. Perhaps, the issue is a lack of coin holders. Unless, different folks grade the bills than coins and there are more coin submissions.

  • ProofCollectionProofCollection Posts: 5,382 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @kevinrivers said:
    Submitted bank notes and coins together. All were received on 4/7. I Received the graded bank notes By the end of April. The coins are still listed as grading. Perhaps, the issue is a lack of coin holders. Unless, different folks grade the bills than coins and there are more coin submissions.

    I can't imagine the same folks that grade paper also grade coins. I'm sure there are employees capable of this but I would expect them to separate the specialties, but that is not based on anything.

    When a few more of my orders update I will post my order list which contains a wide variety of submissions. I have had modern value coins sail through faster than an express crossover. And an $8000 restoration was processed in less than a month while 2 other restorations for under $200 coins languish 2.5 months so far. There's not a lot of rhyme or reason.

    I guess we do know that they prioritize certain gradings, like brand new issues. New issues from the mint seem to get graded very quickly, and I doubt the bulk submitters are paying for express service (such as new ASE's, AGE's, etc.).

  • MilesWaitsMilesWaits Posts: 5,310 ✭✭✭✭✭

    AI for widget (ASE, AGE, Maples, Silver Santa, whatever) grading.
    Less subjectivity.
    In the end, it’s just bullion.

    Now riding the swell in PM's and surf.
  • oih82w8oih82w8 Posts: 11,892 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I was about to start a new thread on the "bottleneck" and did a search instead.

    This may not be the answer for all of the delays, but wasn't last quarters special on bulk submissions? Like @MilesWaits mentioned, it's just bullion, which would garner a 68, 69 or occasional 70. Whereas moderns should receive 64 through 67 unless something really jumps out at the grader.

    The order process appears as these categories;

    Arrived
    Received
    Grading
    Encapsulation
    QA
    Shipped
    Delivered

    Apparently "Being Imaged" can appear in a couple of the categories, within my present submission it has shown up in Encapsulation and QA.

    I am just glad that the wheels of progress are indeed turning.

    oih82w8 = Oh I Hate To Wait _defectus patientia_aka...Dr. Defecto - Curator of RMO's

    BST transactions: dbldie55, jayPem, 78saen, UltraHighRelief, nibanny, liefgold, FallGuy, lkeigwin, mbogoman, Sandman70gt, keets, joeykoins, ianrussell (@GC), EagleEye, ThePennyLady, GRANDAM, Ilikecolor, Gluggo, okiedude, Voyageur, LJenkins11, fastfreddie, ms70, pursuitofliberty, ZoidMeister,Coin Finder, GotTheBug, edwardjulio, Coinnmore...

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