Evaluating Warehouse Operations to Improve Productivity

Evaluating Warehouse Operations to Improve Productivity

This post is part 10 in a series of 10 different approaches to addressing the common challenges faced by distribution centers (DCs) across a broad range of industries without investing in automation.

The ninth blog in this 10-part series exploring ways to enhance operational efficiency without investing in automation considered the benefits of comparing your operations against those of your peers to discover opportunities for higher productivity. This final entry offers guidelines for what to consider before making any facility equipment or design changes.

Step 10: Evaluate Current System Function

Let’s say you’ve exhausted all the previously suggested steps to attain higher rates of operational efficiency and are now considering an automation investment. What now? After all, an investment in the design and installation of material handling systems and equipment for DC order fulfillment can be significant. (Indeed, that’s why so many operations managers are to be commended for their creativity in adapting facilities built for the fulfillment needs of a decade ago to handle today’s order profiles.)

If the budget to invest in a facility expansion or equipment upgrade should become available, the first thing to do is conduct a thorough review of your current processes and equipment design to figure out if, how and where they are impeding efficiency.

Hire a third-party consultant or supplier to perform an operational audit. Much less costly than any equipment investment, an unbiased outsider can suggest modifications for improved productivity which require a minimal outlay of capital. Possible solutions could include adjustments to sorter operation, modification of picking carts to handle batch picking, or light-directed put walls for separating picks into unique orders.

Finally, before signing off on any major changes (and expenditures), utilize warehouse computer simulation technologies with real order data to test potential installations or alternative processes. It’s a safe way to explore different options, discover new ideas, evaluate possible scenarios, and find missed opportunities. Additionally, simulating the changes allows a company to select the optimal efficiency-boosting solution for their budget.

To learn more about the other nine steps, download the latest Honeywell Intelligrated white paper, “10 Steps to Improve Operational Efficiency: Addressing Common Order Fulfillment Challenges Without Investing in Automation.

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