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Intelligrated InSights

Workforce challenges? LMS helps operations do more with less

The MHI U.S. Material Handling and Logistics roadmap indicates a shrinking pool of qualified labor and high turnover rates due to retiring baby boomers and a lack of skilled younger workers to replace them. As turnover increases, competition for labor drives higher base wages, leading businesses to place a premium on improved employee performance and measurable returns on workforce investment. 
 
For operations with more than 50 employees working the floor, labor management software (LMS) can deliver significant performance gains beyond basic in-house tools and the addition of extra staff. With automated functionality, in-depth reporting and thorough analysis, it frees management to look beyond simple labor tracking to unlock new levels of productivity that eclipse the capabilities of alternative solutions. 
 
Investment in LMS helps management and employees to:
 
Understand corporate objectives
An effective LMS implementation simplifies communication of strategic goals, expectations and actual operational metrics. This infuses transparency into worker performance evaluation by enabling employees to understand their achievements in relation to business objectives. This transparency eliminates discontent due to perceptions of unfairness or allegations of favoritism and boosts worker confidence, ultimately reducing turnover and improving labor performance. 
 
Increase engagement
By connecting employee output with business goals, LMS fuels career development and improves overall employee engagement. With engineered labor standards, employees work towards clearly-defined, realistic targets with the confidence that their actions yield both personal and operational benefit. This approach produces consistent individual development that results in benefit for the entire operation as overall throughput improves with incremental individual gains. 
 
Discover new opportunities for improvement
LMS automatically tracks labor and provides extensive reporting and analysis to release supervisors from the time-consuming burden of manual reporting. This frees management to spend time coaching and observing employees to take remedial action and identify process improvements to implement with the rest of the workforce.  As DCs look for the most efficient way to utilize scarce labor, a robust LMS can also look beyond a single facility and leverage the entire distribution network, helping management to discover new opportunities for consistent, year-over-year improvement and make more informed decisions that maximize available labor.
 
Use analytics to make your business smarter
As operations extract productivity and efficiency gains from individual locations, they can compare multiple facilities within their distribution network according to overall output, individual processes and labor performance. Even if some facilities have different names for the same process, an LMS can execute apples-to-apples comparisons by equating different names with the same function. For example, the same process may be known as “receiving” in a manual facility, but be called “induction” in an automated DC. On the ground, these multisite analytics encourage healthy competition against other locations across the country, rather than potentially damaging rivalries amongst co-workers in the same facility.
 
Optimize labor to face the challenges of tomorrow
For an industry in flux, the flexibility of LMS positions it to solve today’s labor challenges and adapt to emerging issues. Labor is the most flexible fulfillment tool in the distribution arsenal, and LMS offers the most efficient means to tailor the workforce to meet operational challenges. Whether onboarding new employees, updating experienced workers or incentivizing process improvements, LMS offers an effective platform to drive a culture of individual accountability and continuous improvement.
 
For more information on improving workforce efficiency and productivity, read the Intelligrated white paper: Do more with less: How to thrive in a challenging labor market.
 
 

Video blog: March Executive InSight

In his latest video blog, Intelligrated CEO Chris Cole discusses supply chain workforce challenges and the role of labor and technology in fulfillment operations.

Don't miss Intelligrated ProMat seminars

Intelligrated representatives look forward to participating in several educational seminars at this year’s ProMat show in Chicago, March 23-26. These seminars offer valuable insight and tips for material handling systems in distribution operations.

Be sure to stop by and learn how to get the most out of your warehouse operations.

E-commerce is entering a new dimension. Are your conveyors and sorters ready for the challenge?
Monday, March 23 at 12:45 p.m. in ProMat theater D

With several national shipping companies embracing dimensional weight pricing, material handling systems must optimize performance standards to accommodate different packaging types. Learn how to ensure your system can handle the challenge.

WMS + WCS = warehouse execution system
Monday, March 23 at 3:45 p.m. in ProMat theater J

Warehouse execution systems combine software systems with material handling automation for real-time responsiveness, and increased fulfillment accuracy and efficiency. Learn what defines a WMS and WCS versus a warehouse execution system and the top KPIs measured by fulfillment operations.

Using software to maximize your order fulfillment performance
Tuesday, March 24 at 3:45 p.m. in ProMat theater H

Software is becoming an increasingly critical component of order fulfillment success. Learn the various execution software systems and how to combine them to create the best operational solution and increase labor efficiency, productivity and overall throughput.

10 steps to improve operational efficiency
Wednesday, March 25 at 11:15 a.m. in ProMat theater J

Distribution and fulfillment operations experience ongoing business changes that impact customers and the financial bottom line. The challenge lies in identifying and addressing change indicators before operations reach a critical mass of inefficiency. Learn ten important steps to identify change indicators and ensure operational efficiency.

In-booth presentations
Intelligrated Customer Service and Support representatives will host in-booth presentations throughout the day.  These presentations will address best-practices to optimize maintenance and parts programs.

Five building blocks to a successful maintenance program
Monday, March 23 – Wednesday, March 25 at 11 a.m. in booth #2903

All successful maintenance programs are built on solid practices that lead to maximum uptime.  Join Corey Calla, material handling expert, as he shares the five critical building blocks for a successful maintenance program.

The right part at the right time – how to avoid downtime due to part shortage
Monday, March 23 – Wednesday, March 25 at 1 p.m. in booth #2903

Best practices in maintenance can minimize risk and prevent unnecessary downtime.  Join Matt McDermott as he discusses the tools and techniques used in a successful parts program.

Assessing your system – Five signs that your system needs maintenance
Monday, March 23 – Wednesday, March 25 at 2 p.m. in booth #2903

Join Bryan Arnold as he walks through the five leading indicators that a material handling system needs maintenance.

To attend a Customer Service and Support presentation, click here to reserve your seat.

If you still need to register for ProMat and Automate, click here to sign up for your free attendee badge. To arrange a meeting at ProMat or Automate, email info@intelligrated.com.

We hope to see you in Chicago at ProMat booth #2903 and Automate booth #414!

Follow Intelligrated on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date on booth and seminar information during the show.

Join Intelligrated at ProMat and Automate 2015

Only two weeks remain before the 2015 ProMat and Automate shows March 23-26 in the south hall of Chicago’s McCormick Place. Intelligrated looks forward to the nation’s largest materials handling show, where organizers welcome several impressive keynotes to create the best, most productive show yet.

Keynote speakers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Google for Work director Renee Niemi, will address the future of technology and business operations, while comedian Frank Caliendo is set to entertain for MHI’s 70th anniversary.

Intelligrated’s ProMat booth #2903 will focus on innovative, flexible solutions that provide the accuracy, efficiency and speed required in today’s e-commerce and omnichannel fulfillment operations. Designed as a conceptual distribution center, the booth gives visitors a detailed look at how Intelligrated software, shuttle and conveyor solutions enable efficient operations.

Software solutions

Intelligrated’s warehouse execution systems (WES) and labor management software (LMS) increase accuracy in e-commerce and multichannel operations by managing labor, processes and inventory through real-time reporting and analytics. Picking and voice technologies are on display through mobile cart demonstrations, an integrated put wall and voice kiosks.

Shuttle solutions

The Intelligrated OLS (one-level shuttle) system is a highly efficient AS/RS solution that handles a wide variety of product types and carton sizes for goods-to-operator order fulfillment, just-in-time inventory management, and product sequencing and buffering applications. Capable of storing and retrieving items from single and double-deep storage, the OLS is ideal for operations with a limited available footprint. An in-booth demonstration features several item retrieval sequences. 

Conveyor and sortation systems

Intelligrated’s high-throughput conveyor and fast, accurate sortation systems handle a wide variety of product types including totes and polybags, enabling optimum efficiency in distribution and fulfillment operations. In addition to IntelliSort® cross-belt and sliding shoe sorters, visitors can view demonstrations featuring IntelliQ® accumulation conveyor powered by the innovative Zoneflex Advanced control solution.

Lifecycle services

Intelligrated’s Customer Service and Support (CSS) provides the services, parts and support needed to keep systems running at peak efficiency. 24X7 technical support connects customers to Intelligrated’s expert field service engineers for proven support, while OnTimeParts, the industry’s most comprehensive material handling parts website, makes ordering spare parts easy and efficient.  At the show, representatives from CSS will be on hand to discuss modifications and upgrades to existing systems, maintenance programs and the newly-redesigned OnTimeParts.com.

With their show badge, ProMat attendees can also enter the neighboring Automate show in McCormick Place North. Intelligrated will exhibit at Automate in booth #414 – be sure to visit Intelligrated in both locations. 

If you haven’t already registered for ProMat and Automate, click here to sign up for your free attendee badge.

To arrange a meeting at either show, email info@intelligrated.com.

Stay tuned for a later blog about Intelligrated educational seminars at ProMat. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago!

Three tips to turn a DC into an efficiency center

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.

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