Ken Ruehrdanz, of DEMATIC recently presented at the WERC Annual Conference for Logistics Professionals, “Thirty Warehouse Improvement Ideas”. At CTL we are always looking to measure ourselves against the industry and find new ideas or reinforce current ideas of implementation for improvement. Sometimes a simple concept can help to improve, time, efficiency and cost in the supply chain warehouse environment.
It is imperative as we grow as an organization for all of us to look for ways to improve and implement changes that serve our clients, increase our efficiencies and lower our costs.
Here is a quick breakdown of all 30 ideas that were presented, and proud to note that CTL has already implemented, or is planning to implement, over 95% of these Improvement Ideas!
- Various Size Storage Locations–Split pallets on lower level to have a place to put shorter pallets and maximize storage space.
- Hands-Free Scanning– Keep hands and eyes free to keep workers more ergonomic, productive and safe. Wrist-mount and vision are a couple of options.
- Pick By Location– Unique identifier for each pick location. Avoid confusion and mistakes when items are moved or other changes made. Assign a bay number to each bay shelving, a level number and a sequence number across the shelf. Results in productivity and quality improvement.
- Preventative Maintenance– Instead of responding to breakdowns. Equipment maintenance schedules, spare parts, issue logs and maintenance systems.
- Pick Carts– Batch picking – discrete order pick. Can be cart, software, tablet, pick-to-voice or put-to-light. Low capital expenditure
- Industrial Engineering– Basic techniques such as time studies, delay studies, standards, labor management and lean engineering to save time in your warehouse.
- Case Sealers – End of process operations made more efficient.
- Pick Clips– Reminds the picker which carton they are picking into. Simple process for improved accuracy and productivity.
- Carton size evaluation– Reduces transportation rates using correct carton for product sizes and order volumes. Reduces damage potential, box cost, dunnage cost, and equipment.
- Recycling – Reduce waste stream and cut cost of waste management. Some waste haulers will provide equipment and pay for corrugated or folding cartons. Stretch wrap can be compacted.
- Order checking Processes– E-commerce order fulfillment accuracy. Determine appropriate volume of orders to check based on error rate. Can use scale to determine appropriate weight and check when off. Error ticket provides info about what order should be and allows check-list to collect data to see where errors are happening.
- Lighting– Appropriate level and type for the use of the space.
- Order consolidation– Can start small, to batch-pick orders. Uses stand-alone mechanized equipment (instead of a put-wall), low capital, fast deployment and flexible.
- Directed Put-Away– Many warehouse management systems have this feature, but most don’t utilize it. Let the system direct the loads as they come in, based on proximity or volume. Benefits include optimizing warehouse layout, boosting stock availability, optimizing stock locations and expediting put-away.
- Quality Boards– Whiteboards or posters to inform about productivity, safety, process or quality. Communication with workers
- System Management– Order-fulfillment process solutions such as wave-based for retail and B2B, or on-demand for e-commerce. Batch pick-to-cart, wave-less or put walls.
- Batch picking– Consolidate small orders into batch, create one pick-order and then move to put-wall where they would be sorted and packed.
- Returns Processing– Improve processing speed, provide faster customer credit. Study flow paths that a particular return item takes and optimize work stations and process.
- Anti-Fatigue Matting– Improves ergonomics, productivity, safety and warmth in the picking aisle.
- Over-Conveyor Picking– Utilizes unused space. Is simple, inexpensive and a good place to keep small or slow products (or conversely, fast products since it is ergonomic and productive).
- Stock Profiling– Software options available to make improved product placement easy. Benefits include improved ergonomics, increased productivity, reduced movement, better packing, reduced shipping damage, and, slotting flexibility.
- Carton Erectors and/or Print and Apply – End of process operations made more efficient. Label print-and-apply, case formers etc. automated or semi-automated devices.
- Video Communication Displays– Large TV screens to communicate information such as scorecards, dashboards, objectives or company news.
- Simulation– Set up a model with CAD drawing of warehouse, apply process to determine more effective designs, test ideas, avoid unnecessary capital spend, and improve line balancing.
- Pick Zone Balancing– Pick-systems: fixed zones, variable zones or bucket brigade.
- Goods-to-Person– The product is moved directly to the operator, who then picks what is needed to fulfill orders. Benefits such as optimized replenishment, compact, security and controlled access to inventory, supports worker ergonomics, improved worker productivity, continuous flow of SKUs to workstations, high order accuracy, reduced order processing time, staff according to demand.
- Slip Sheets– Place under pallet at the end of manufacturing, and then use a push-pull attachment to push it onto the floor of the truck or container. Reduce load cube and weight, eliminate pallet exchange, and satisfy international wood shipping regulations.
- Mobile Automation– Autonomous mobile robots. Standard manually operated forklifts can be retro-fitted with automation controls to make them an automated guided vehicles.
- Micro fulfillment– Solution used for e-commerce fulfillment. Designed to service small, regional area for same-day delivery. Benefits are process improvement, speed, low operating cost, more capacity. Found in regional DC, urban service center, hub retail store, spoke retail store.
- Energy Management– Solar Panels, lighting such as LED fixtures. Solar panels to power warehouse and keep it cooler.
- Dynamic Buffer– Return merchandise is placed into an overhead pouch system for single items, and matched up with orders coming into the warehouse.
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