9 Tactics to Bolster Resilience in the Face of Uncertainty
November 18, 2021
Omnichannel distribution and fulfillment (D&F) centers have endured a tumultuous 18 months; the pandemic has prompted explosive e-commerce volumes and the implementation of new workplace safety measures. While many operations were unprepared to address quickly emerging and unanticipated distribution center (DC) complexities, some actually thrived amidst the uncertainty. If the COVID-19 pandemic proved anything, however, it’s that the best laid plans are never guaranteed. But by implementing one (or all) of these nine tactics, your operation can bolster its resilience against an unpredictable future.
1. Support maintenance technicians with remote back-up.
The quickest way to bring a DC to its knees? Unanticipated material handling equipment (MHE) downtime. To mitigate the damage to overall performance, it’s critical to resolve issues quickly. Yet outside technical experts might not be available at a moment’s notice. Instead, utilizing remote video-enablement solutions like Honeywell Intelligrated’s TechSight allows on-site maintenance staffers to collaborate in real time with support experts who can provide step-by-step instructions for fast issue resolution.
2. Upskill staff with additional training.
While face-to-face training may no longer be preferred, maintenance and operations (M&O) teams need to continue to build essential skills. Consider leveraging distance learning, which can be customized for a range of skill levels and completed at the desired pace of management and/or technicians.
3. Enhance productivity of your existing workforce.
Attracting and retaining a qualified hourly workforce remains among the biggest operational challenges faced by DC managers. Further, with many companies continuously operating at peak productivity levels to meet demand, managers frequently overstaff by up to 20% to meet throughput requirements. To increase labor productivity while optimizing costs, tools like Honeywell Intelligrated’s Momentum Labor incentivize associate engagement, reduce attrition rates, cut fulfillment times, minimize labor spend, and allow predictive planning.
4. Empower associates with workflow support tools.
Integrating voice-directed technologies can not only enhance the safety and well-being of your workforce, but it can also increase labor productivity and accuracy. In omnichannel e-fulfillment, voice-directed workflows can help retailers to establish a seamless experience for customers. Combined with analytics software, voice technology provides data collection, automated documentation and workplace insights so DC managers can fine-tune performance and productivity.
5. Lessen the reliance on manual labor.
Augment an existing workforce through robotic solutions that address the limitations of — and challenges in hiring — manual labor. Honeywell Intelligrated’s robotic solutions can be applied to a range of fulfillment processes, including automated guided vehicles (AGVs), autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), automated palletizing/depalletizing and articulated arm picking.
6. Reduce the distance between fulfillment and customers.
Implementing highly automated and higher-density, small-footprint, micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) to augment traditional DC operations can improve delivery time frames by shortening the distance between fulfillment and customers while lowering transportation and logistics costs.
7. Synchronize automation with robust, unified software.
Eliminate disconnected islands of automation, which have historically been hamstrung by software limitations, challenging upgrades and frequent obsolescence. Modern software, such as Honeywell Intelligrated’s Momentum warehouse execution system (WES), provides a single, unified platform that enables real-time advanced automation in complex DC environments.
8. Reduce downtime with predictive maintenance.
Adopt a connected, data-driven approach by applying connected, internet of things (IoT) infrastructures that leverage real-time operational data to enhance performance and enable more accurate predictive maintenance (PM) programs. Solutions such as Enterprise Performance Management software-as-a-service (SaaS) from Honeywell Forge can support a connected infrastructure and detect potential system failures before they occur.
9. Validate changes to processes or equipment via simulation.
Get answers to “what-if” questions by leveraging virtual simulation and emulation. With solutions such as eSim, a unique offering within Momentum WES, operations can validate and verify a range of scenarios in a digital replica of existing equipment and software before making changes to processes or equipment.
Want more details about how to apply these tactics for greater operational resilience? Read our recent On The Move article to learn how Honeywell Intelligrated can help you to create a workplace where your employees thrive, your operations meet ever-increasing productivity targets, and your company adapts to an unpredictable future.
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