Little Measures Can Prompt Big Productivity Improvements

Little Measures Can Prompt Big Productivity Improvements

This post is part 6 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 solutions. 

The fifth blog in this 10-part series exploring ways to enhance operational warehouse efficiency without investing in automation solutions discussed how to utilize input from front-line customer service associates and suppliers to discover areas for improved picking accuracy and efficiency. Today’s installment offers a selection of solutions to address the little impediments that might be big productivity barriers.

Step 6: Remove the Barriers to Success

If you spend a few hours watching pickers and packers in action, you might be astonished to note how much time they waste searching for supplies like pens or a roll of tape. If that’s happening at every workstation on every shift with any degree of regularity, those minutes can add up to a tremendous loss in operational warehouse efficiency and productivity. 

The solution? Outfit all workstations with a standard selection of appropriate tools and regularly replenish consumable supplies. You can also delve deeper into the practices of Lean, Six Sigma, 5S and other waste-cutting methodologies to identify additional areas of potential efficiency improvements.

Equipping workers with visual “cheat sheets” that answer frequently asked questions or showing how to resolve common material handling equipment errors are other time-savers that can enable associates to address issues without seeking a supervisor for help.

Further, assigning the top performers exclusively to applicable tasks also improves staff efficiency. Utilizing the latest warehouse execution software (WES) can enhance associate speed by guiding more experienced pickers through tasks with fewer steps (thanks to their familiarity with the process and operation); conversely, less experienced workers receive more detailed information. Another approach is to automate picking or designate picking tasks to the most productive employees and packing or value-added services to those who have less experience.

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. Stay tuned for the seventh step in this series: “Raise the Bar.”

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