3 Musts for Productivity in Warehouse and Distribution

posted on: Thursday June 30, 2016

xpresslargeSummer is an interesting time for warehousing, fulfillment centers, and distribution centers (DCs). For some businesses, this is a peak season. For others, now is already time to ramp up for volume during the holidays. Either way, improvements to productivity are always relevant. Here are three things you have to do to accomplish this.

  1. Understand your operation and identify initial improvements. There are many costly solutions that will help you optimize your process, but before investing, take the time to evaluate your total operation. You’ll likely find opportunities to immediately minimize waste or improve efficiencies without spending a lot of money. A simple approach to this is through the 8 Wastes of Lean. This uses the acronym DOWNTIME to identify wasteful elements that you should work to eliminate: defects, overproduction, waiting, not utilizing talent, inventory excess, motion waste, and excess processing. Once you have made your current process as productive as possible within your current capabilities, you’ll know where to invest on improvements.
  1. Obtain and rely upon information. Optimal inventory, retrieval, and picking and packing depend on adequate information about the flow of goods. This goes beyond predicting influxes in orders. Look at anything you need to fulfill an order that increases the time it will take you to do so. If you rely on goods to be shipped to you from far away, you may keep more of that item on hand. If you know a supplier has a speedy turn-around time, you can factor that into your inventory protocol. Knowing when you will need more parts and labor is only half the battle; you also need to be proactive about training and ordering ahead of time.
  1. Consider equipment and automation as superpowers. How much would you pay Superman to work in your facility? He’s only one person, but he has the strength and speed to get an incredible amount of work done in little time with no risk of injury or product damage. These are the same things that ergonomic equipment aims to accomplish. At a time when the labor pool is rather shallow and the workforce is older than ever, the right equipment practically gives superhuman capabilities to permanent and contract employees.

Many warehouses and DCs use electric-powered tugs to eliminate some of the 8 Wastes and assist employees with productivity. They are especially useful to the aging workforce, but will dramatically improve nearly all push/pull tasks in your operation. Talk to Load Mover Inc about your needs. They will help you determine whether a tug or cart pusher will benefit your business and ensure you get the right unit for your individual circumstances. Call 952-767-1720 or email info@loadmoverinc.com today.