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Workforce management: Software solution sets work standards

New workforce management solution boosts Briggs & Stratton distribution center productivity nearly 20% in two weeks.
By Lorie King Rogers, Associate Editor
October 01, 2011

Briggs & Stratton is the world’s largest producer of air-cooled gasoline engines—engines that can be found in everything from lawn mowers to racecars.

Every year, the company’s replacement parts division ships about 26 million pieces worldwide from a 300,000-square-foot distribution center in Menomonee Falls, Wisc. The location handles more than 80,000 SKUs, representing $32 million in inventory.

Yet, despite the volume of product moving through both Briggs & Stratton facilities, standardized procedures were not in place for associates to follow while performing their job responsibilities or for measuring productivity. “We realized we needed standardized methods for doing work in the DC,” says Bill Harlow, director of distribution operations.

The company implemented a workforce management software solution (RedPrairie, http://www.redprairie.com) to face the standardization challenge.  From the outset, the company involved employees in the process and drew from their experience to define preferred methods and practices. 

The supplier delivered a comprehensive workforce management software platform including preferred methods for performing each task and discrete labor standards incorporating machine-based timing. They also provided a “Time & Incentives” solution to reward employees.

Within a month of going live, Briggs & Stratton was able to reduce their pick, pack and ship headcount by about 18% while maintaining throughput. Soon after, performance improved to 100% to 110% of standard.

The new software solution enabled the company to overcome employee turnover by providing job methods and training procedures that help associates to learn quickly and work more effectively. 

“Since the system works the way we work, training became a very simple process.  We integrated it with our internal scheduling system so everything is driven from the picking or packaging work order. We estimate [that solution has] saved us about a million dollars,” says John Guy, vice president of supply chain and distribution. 

With the new methods and standards in place, the company can measure each associate accurately and fairly. In addition to fewer quality and safety problems, most associates claim it’s fairly easy to make 100% of goal once they learned the preferred method.

About the Author

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Lorie King Rogers
Associate Editor

Lorie King Rogers, associate editor, joined Modern in 2009 after working as a freelance writer for the Casebook issue and show daily at tradeshows. A graduate of Emerson College, she has also worked as an editor on Stock Car Racing Magazine.


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