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Fortify Fulfillment Operations With These Proven DC Strategies

Fortify Fulfillment Operations With These Proven DC Strategies

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended traditional distribution and fulfillment (D&F) processes, requiring operations to exist in a perpetual state of flux. Distribution center (DC) managers implemented new safety guidelines to bolster employee and consumer confidence. Many consumers amped up their e-commerce purchasing across nearly every retail sector while embracing online grocery shopping for the first time. Fulfillment centers struggled to increase staffing in the face of unprecedented and variable demand spikes. The year 2020 truly was a perfect storm of D&F complexities — which evidently, most omnichannel retailers were unprepared to address.

Yet retailers can adopt operational strategies to improve their ability to not only survive, but also thrive, in this volatile and challenging market. Honeywell Intelligrated’s new white paper, 9 Keys to Fortifying Fulfillment Operations, examines technologies that increase labor productivity and software and automation solutions that optimize operations.

Increasing Labor Productivity

With hourly warehouse workers and skilled technicians in high demand, it can be difficult to attract and retain a qualified workforce. Coupled with customer expectations for fast, accurate and free delivery, DCs are often running at maximum capacity. To compensate, they’re overstaffing by up to 20%. Address these challenges with the following approaches:

  • Implement labor management software (LMS) — such as Honeywell Intelligrated’s Momentum Labor— to drive productivity while optimizing costs through tools that incentivize employee engagement, minimize attrition rates, cut fulfillment times, reduce labor spend, and allow predictive planning.
  • Empower workers with mobility tools, including voice-directed technologies, that increase safety as well as productivity and accuracy. Combined with analytics software, voice technology provides advanced data collection, automated documentation and workplace insights.
  • Support maintenance and operations (M&O) technicians with remote video-enablement solutions like Honeywell Intelligrated’s TechSight for real-time collaboration with trusted experts who can help troubleshoot material handling equipment (MHE) issues.
  • Train remotely via tailored distance-learning programs that enable M&O staffers to continue to build their skills.

Optimizing Operations With Software, Automation

Online shopping is expected to remain at high levels, as many consumers have embraced the convenience of point-and-click fulfillment. In addition to elevated volumes and erratic spikes in demand, retailers are under relentless pressures for fast fulfillment. These can be alleviated with investments in automation and software solutions:

  • Integrate robotics that can be flexibly deployed across a variety of manual workflows to boost overall productivity, accuracy and safety. These include robotic solutions from Honeywell Intelligrated such as automated palletizing/depalletizing, articulated arm picking, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), and automated guided vehicles (AGVs).
  • Deploy micro-fulfillment center (MFC) locations to shorten the distance between DCs and customers, thereby reducing delivery times.
  • Synchronize automated MHE with robust, unified software that eliminates disconnected islands of automation and the associated struggles with obsolescence and upgrades. Modern warehouse automation software, like Honeywell Intelligrated’s Momentum warehouse execution system (WES), delivers a consolidated, unified platform that enables real-time, advanced workflow allocations in complex DC environments.
  • Gain visibility into asset performance with internet of things (IoT) infrastructures that leverage insights mined from operational data with solutions like Enterprise Performance Management software-as-a-service (SaaS) from Honeywell Forge. Continual, real-time analysis detects potential system failures before they happen, and automates proactive service scheduling to minimize downtime.
  • Leverage the predictive powers of virtual simulation and emulation with eSim, a unique offering within Momentum WES. The solution creates a digital replica of existing equipment and software, allowing operations managers to compare countless “what-if” scenarios and achieve higher productivity goals, decrease installation costs, and meet the challenges of the future.

Discover how to create a more certain future with this white paper that provides additional details into these operational strategies. Then create an operation where your employees, your operations and your company are able to thrive — even amidst an unpredictable future — by connecting with Honeywell Intelligrated.

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