Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


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 John M. Hill, Director, St. Onge Company
October 27, 2011

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.

About the Author

John M. Hill
Director, St. Onge Company

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!

Recent Entries

Movie intended to engage manufacturing employers and workers, legislators, educational facilities, reporters and even consumers.

New Women in Manufacturing Group’s survey results released ahead of Manufacturing Day.

New version of pallet and unit load design software now includes block pallet design and analysis

Even though some of its key metrics dropped sequentially from August to September, the outlook for manufacturing over all remains strong, according to the most recent edition of the Manufacturing Report on Business issued today by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).

Former senior vice president, CIO for CHEP brings 30 years of experience in global supply chains and information technology.



© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA