In the high-stakes distribution and fulfillment landscape, DC operators constantly seek ways to increase operational efficiency while eliminating waste.
Distribution centers continue to face labor challenges, especially retaining quality labor capable of meeting service level requirements for fulfillment accuracy and speed. How can operations overcome a shrinking talent pool and rising labor costs while reducing cost-per-piece in a competitive marketplace?
Don’t forget operational fundamentals
A lack of attention to basic essentials plagues many warehouses. Focusing on operational best practices such as workspace sanitation, slotting upkeep, preventive maintenance and ongoing training builds a foundation for optimized throughput and service quality. The path to correcting fundamentals starts with a daily walk. Observing processes in action and evaluating the how and why of each task highlights opportunities for immediate improvement and can start further investigation into major process enhancements.
Avoid process islands - keep the entire operation in mind
In an effort to satisfy growing demand for a variety of specialized value-added services, today’s DCs host myriad process islands, splintering operations and making it difficult for managers to maintain a comprehensive view of all processes. This causes difficulty in determining staff requirements, measuring productivity and monitoring output to ensure sustained progress from each process that works in harmony with the overall flow path from receiving to shipping. The lesson? Don’t just focus on a single process without considering its effect on the overall operation.
Emphasize workplace relationships as much as the work itself
In addition to basics like safety, lighting, airflow, proper tools and ergonomics, desirable workplaces are built on relationships. The relationship between manager and employee establishes trust and communication vital to operational success. Relationships between associates provide opportunities for mentoring, boosting morale and establishing a culture of success that permeates the operation. Ultimately, empowering staff with the direct, meaningful relationship between their work and the customer’s shopping experience improves job satisfaction and reinforces the importance of performance and quality measures.
For more information on overcoming operational challenges and increasing efficiency in distribution centers, read the Intelligrated Operational efficiency white paper.