The fine art of doing better with what you have

Until you get the basics right, you'll never get the most from other systems or processes.

By ·

An inordinate number of companies, excited by new tools and systems, continue to overlook the importance of taking a step back and assessing “tamer” options before running off to buy a “silver bullet.”

What do I mean by “tamer” options?  They are nothing more (or less) than the fundamentals or basics common to all top performing warehouses. As you read them, you may not think of these as best practices, at least not the kind of best practices that result in more orders going out the door. But don’t be fooled. Until you get the basics right, you’ll never get the most from other systems or processes.

They include, for example:

Plant: A clean, well-lighted warehouse with rigorously maintained equipment used for its intended purpose directly reflects on management and is a solid indicator of workforce attitude and morale.
Staffing: Continuous training, performance reporting and achievement recognition, and attention to safety and ergonomics tell us a lot about a company’s concern for its employees and commitment to building an environment that enables exceptional performance.
Material and data flow: Is there a lack of correlation between the two that affects inventory accuracy, space and labor utilization, order fulfillment and shipping efficiency?  Layout, process and system modifications can help here. 
Processes and disciplines: What have you done to minimize the number of times products are handled and re-handled?  Are processes well defined and documented?  Did employees have a hand in developing them?  Are they regularly reviewed to identify opportunities for streamlining?
Tools and systems: What are you doing to minimize paperwork and travel times?  Do your systems simplify or impede operator task execution? 

Regardless of your company’s size or available capital, mastery of the “tamer” options will take you a long way towards improving performance.  Moreover, when the timing is right, it will help you to set the stage for reasoned deployment of those technologies and systems that will further fine-tune and optimize your operations.

Read more columns by John Hill at Modern.
More Best Practices content.


Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Gaining Efficiencies Through End-to-end Warehouse Automation
Warehouse and distribution center managers in B2B and B2C have never been under more pressure to scale up their operations to meet customer demands in the new, digital economy. Warehouse Automation Custom digital issue, Peerless custom Automation white paper. Warehouse Automation research papers.
Download Today!
From the September 2016 Issue
The fashion retailer has used warehouse execution software and automation to create a true omni-channel distribution center.
Lift Truck Tips: Knowledge is Power
Software system gives new facility a competitive edge
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
5 Emerging Technologies Enabling Competitive Advantage for Distribution
Come hear about the latest in each-picking robotics, co-bots, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, sensors, drones and droids that are enabling competitive advantage for distribution.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
American Eagle Outfitters’ omni-channel journey
The fashion retailer has used warehouse execution software and automation to create a true...
The data-driven lift truck
Now that manufacturers and distributors are using the data from their automated systems to drive...

Destination Maternity: Destination Automation
Running short of space in its old facility, Destination Maternity Corp. built a new, highly...
Hibbett Sports: Faster, Flexible and Efficient
A high-speed conveyor and sortation system at Hibbett Sports’ Alabama distribution center speeds...