Tag: tips and tools
As rising order volumes place increasing pressure on labor resources, e-commerce order fulfillment (e-fulfillment) center managers are always looking for ways to improve operational efficiencies. Compared to traditional distribution centers, these e-fulfillment centers require significantly more labor resources to get orders out the door, according to promised customer service level agreements (SLAs).
To meet SLAs without cutting into profit margins, managers need to be able to quickly identify underperforming labor resources and process bottlenecks. In a recent On The Move webinar co-hosted by me and Mark Steinkamp, Honeywell Intelligrated's director of solutions development, we discussed 10 ways companies can identify operational inefficiencies and address them before they impact the bottom line.
1. Know your operation. Managers often overlook the value of regularly walking the floor to evaluate areas that are labor-intensive or where traffic may be congested. In addition to this simple step, more formal audits, metrics analysis and even business intelligence tools are useful to evaluating operations.
2. Train, train and train again. Regular training (and cross-training) on systems and processes or associates and management alike is critical to running efficient operations. Posting cheat sheets, documenting SOPs and establishing a "coaching" methodology are also training best practices.
3. Put people first. To train, grow and retain employees, never forget that it's still a people-centric business where relationships are important. To keep labor focused on productivity, establish five key metrics as common ground. Then, reward top performers while discouraging unproductive habits.
4. Keep an order fulfillment focus. With increasing order volumes and SKU types, give your operation the proper tools to meet the challenge. From regular MHE maintenance and system design evaluation to mobile devices and golden zone slotting, your goal is to create an environment that helps pickers perform at their best.
5. Improve customer service. It's a service-oriented industry, and even the smallest of details can make a measurable difference. Reducing internal backlogs and ensuring vendor compliance are two easy-to-implement examples of how to do this.
6. Remove barriers to success. Perform process analysis to track problems and and identify opportunities for improvements. Pareto charts are useful for uncovering extremes and determining where to make changes. This is not a "set-and-forget" mentality, but an ongoing process.
7. Raise the bar. Even after you've made improvements, it's important to not settle for a new status quo. Instead, always strive to incrementally improve results and raise the productivity of low-performing associates.
8. Review processes. You would be surprised how many e-fulfillment centers don't have proper process documentation. Once in place, these can be evaluated and updated for continual process improvement, or entirely revamped to incorporate new workflows or automation.
9. Benchmark against your peers. Network within the MHE industry to gain insights and learn strategies that others have already successfully deployed. Engaging with your vendors and suppliers gives them opportunities to add value to your operations.
10. Assess the power of your system. Conduct a technology review to assess the efficiency of your MHE system. Is it delivering the throughput your operation requires? Then familiarize what offerings are available in the market place, and decide if an upgrade is necessary.
Even taking a few of these steps can quickly help your operations become more efficient. We urge you to view this webinar in its entirety, then reach out to us for more information on how we can help you meet your process improvement goals.
Investments in material handling equipment (MHE) are among the most significant capital expenditures a company can make in its order fulfillment and manufacturing facilities. To maximize ROI and extend the longevity of these systems, facility operators must always be mindful of the working condition of their equipment. But too often that is not the case, and minor issues that could easily have been fixed are ignored until they become major problems.
The true costs of this inattention can be far-reaching, from unplanned downtime and lost productivity to expensive repairs and untimely equipment replacement. But these consequences can all be avoided - even prevented. By performing periodic assessments, facilities managers and maintenance teams can gain accurate knowledge of equipment status and plan accordingly.
On Thursday, August 17 at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT, three of Intelligrated's Lifecycle Support Services (LSS) team members will host the next On The Move webinar and discuss the importance of periodic MHE equipment and system evaluations. Javiera Aguirre, assessment manager; Doug Bach, director of lifecycle sales; and Dave Trice, senior director of business development, will explain how assessments not only give operators insights into the condition of their equipment, but also recommend how to mitigate imminent risks and potentially extend system lifecycles.
Webinar attendees will learn about diverse types of assessments and how they help solve numerous business challenges, including:
- Prevent system downtime and productivity loss
- Guide capital planning priorities (obsolescence, major projects, upgrades, changes in operational requirements)
- Establish effective preventive maintenance plans
- Identify gaps in the maintenance operation
Register now to join the LSS team on Thursday, August 17 and learn how assessments can help you identify minor issues before they become major problems.
It's awards season! The Golden Globes are complete and the Academy is gearing up for their 89th awards ceremony on Feb. 26. But Tinseltown does not have a monopoly on awards. Intelligrated took home plenty of hardware in 2016, gaining recognition from trade journals, other businesses and trade associations.
MHI Innovation Award
The awards journey begins at the material handling industry's premiere trade show in 2016 - MODEX. Intelligrated's dynamic discharge compensation (DDC) technology won in the "best innovation to an existing product" category. The IntelliSort® cross-belt sorter enhancement emerged from a pool of 98 submissions to take home the gold. An ideal solution for high-throughput e-commerce operations, DDC offers the most precise diverts on the market with 99.99 percent sortation accuracy, reduced energy consumption and minimal manual touches.
Top 20 System Suppliers
Modern Materials Handling's annual list of the top 20 automated material handling system providers once again included Intelligrated. This was the third straight year Intelligrated placed in the top 10, with an annual revenue of $760 million in 2015 - 21 percent growth over the previous year. Chairman and General Manager Chris Cole attributed the success to the proliferation of e-commerce and omnichannel retail.
Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Intelligrated co-founders, Chris Cole and Jim McCarthy, won the 2016 Masters of Entrepreneurship award for the Ohio Valley region from Ernst & Young. The Intelligrated co-founders were selected by an independent judging panel made up of previous winners, leading CEOs, private capital investors and other regional business leaders. The program celebrates those who lead growing and dynamic business, prioritize the success of employees and contribute to the wellbeing of their communities.
Supply & Demand Chain Executive 100
Intelligrated was awarded Supply & Demand Chain Executive's 100 top supply chain projects for 2016 thanks to its work with Merrill Corp. Implementing the Intelligrated Voice solution enabled a 65 percent increase in fulfillment accuracy - from 99.73 to 99.9 percent while also increasing throughput by 45 percent.
Material Handling Product News
Intelligrated ended 2016 on a high note, with the IRIS computerized maintenance management system recognized as one of Material Handling Product News' products of the year. Each month, the editorial staff selects five innovative products, before ceding control to the readers to vote on what they truly feel are the best at the end of the year.
To see Intelligrated's award-winning innovations firsthand, book a trip to Chicago for April 3-6 and head to McCormick Place. Be sure to visit ProMat booth S-2003 and then venture across the hall to Automate booth #1616 for a look at innovative automated order fulfillment solutions. Click here to register for free - the same badge works for both shows.
In late 2015, Intelligrated launched its On The Move webinar series, an educational platform designed to provide material handling industry insights about emerging trends, new technologies and best practices impacting distribution and fulfillment operations. We are thrilled with the level of engagement our webinars have achieved and sincerely hope they have helped you navigate today's challenging omnichannel landscape. Based on the success of this program, we are excited to announce its expansion into a comprehensive video series.
The On The Move video series builds off the subject matter presented in the webinars by featuring targeted discussions with Intelligrated's industry experts and experienced practitioners. As a complement to the webinars, this new video series will expand on our commitment to industry education by exploring the key topics you can use to develop winning fulfillment strategies. Whether you're interested in seeing the next generation of distribution operations, curious about emerging fulfillment system technologies or seeking to maximize your current investments in material handling equipment, the On The Move video series has something for you.
To kick off this new series, we've developed the first five video installments and posted them to our YouTube channel. There you'll find informative discussions on these topics:
- Utilizing labor management software to accelerate ROI
- The importance of establishing DC-like operations in retail store outlets to meet rising customer service levels
- How Voice picking solutions can accelerate training and facilitate live coaching
As new videos are developed, we will continue to release them here on our blog, complete with a bio of the presenter and a brief synopsis of the content. We also encourage you to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you can be notified when new videos are posted. Currently, we are in the process of producing videos on the following topics:
- Warehouse execution systems (WES)
- Lifecycle management
- Omnichannel distribution
- Conveyor and sortation systems
- Consulting and design services
Together, the On The Move webinars and video series provide a wealth of information that our customers, partners and industry constituents can use to succeed in an increasingly competitive omnichannel world. We hope you make the most of these resources and look forward to your contribution on these important topics. As always, be sure to register for our upcoming webinars and feel free to check out our growing archives. We're officially On The Move with our new video series, so stay tuned for a new installment coming soon!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope to see you in Chicago at ProMat booth #2903 and Automate booth #414!