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Robert B. Footlik, PE, is CEO ofFootlik & Associates, LLC, of Evanston, IL. Bob has worked extensively in the felds of materials handling, plant layout, packaging and management systems. Footlik & Associates currently serves as the staff warehousing and als handling consul tants to six trade associations, including STAFDA. Reach Bob at 847-328-5644 or www.Footlik. com.
Distribution Management Avoid the 10 most common warehousing mistakes By Robert B. Footlik For well over 100 man years, we have visited Change your perspec- Make your warehouse distributors throughout the world of all sizes, tive and consider picking “common sense” safe and and packing as one opera- regularly look for obvious types and product/customer mixes. tion. This will save labor and safety violations and improve- simultaneously enhance order ments. This small invest- We have found some older By becoming more efﬁcient accuracy. ment of time and effort will facilities do an outstanding in staging areas you can over- 5. Feast or famine situations be returned by multifold job with warehousing and come the lost handling efforts. Many operations function by greater productivity and materials handling, and some Keeping staging areas open, on a crisis basis in the morn- safety. new “modern” facilities are neat and organized; encour- ing. Everything is happening 8. Over packaging of not very efﬁcient. aging personnel to turn over at once, then later during the materials The age of a facility, the the dock space; and organiz- day nothing is going on. Strive for minimum pack- neighborhood and product ing the space and labor can Change this timing by aging, not the maximum, mix have little to do with overcome inadequacies of the encouraging customers to and train your personnel to the relative efﬁciency of the physical facility. Often all that phone/fax/Email orders; invest their efforts in the right operations. Instead manage- is required are some simple schedule receiving for slow places. ment commits some of the 10 enhancements such as lines periods; establish ﬁxed deliv- Put time and effort into most common errors. Even on the ﬂoor or a pallet rack to ery times; set rigid cut-off those items that need the if your operation is running segregate staging by custom- times for shipping; reduce/ most protection, and simul- these errors will pop up and er, truck run, etc. eliminate rush orders; and taneously, look at other devastate proﬁtability: 3. Clogged and sloppy aisles reschedule personnel around improvements in packaging 1. Poorly trained personnel The real enemy of efﬁcient customer’s needs. Strive for from the customer’s perspec- Wage or salary is not warehousing is aisle conges- a balanced work load with tive. There is no reason to indicative of the quality of tion caused by people who every task proceeding accord- put 25 pieces of tape where the employee or their output. “stage” things in bad places. ing to a rational plan. one piece would sufﬁce. All Everyone wants more money Somebody will drop a load in 6. Inadequate lighting this leads back to training but it’s the rare individual an aisle to save 10 seconds OSHA minimum ware- personnel in the right way to who takes a raise as an incen- and then waste as much as 20 house lighting is 20 foot- work and checking on them to tive and moves to higher minutes of labor, a little at a candles. Realistic warehouse insure conformity. productivity. time, walking over, or around lighting should be at least 9. Inadequate housekeeping What is more important this obstruction. 35 foot-candles maintained While it may seem easier is to hire the right people When goods come in they in pallet areas. Shelf stock to throw things on the ﬂoor, (initially attracted by a decent should immediately go into should have at least 40 foot- and then come back later and pay check) then give them the storage. If there is no room candles and in shipping/ sweep them up, everyone tools and training to maintain then there should be a plan receiving areas provide at stumbles over and pushes a good attitude, enjoy what and place for where to drop least 80 foot-candles of illumi- carts through this debris. they are doing, and be pro- goods temporarily. Staff can nation. If there is time to clean ductive. It is more proﬁtable even put merchandise in an Good lighting is an invest- up there is time to do things to establish a training pro- aisle temporarily provided it ment in good productivity and properly. Make everyone gram and then follow through does not obstruct free pas- with energy tax credits, utility aware of good housekeeping. to check on their progress. sage. subsidies and lower energy Materials that are dropped on People respect what you 4. Fragmented procedures costs new ﬁxtures can have a the ﬂoors will damage your inspect, not just expect. Good When something is in 6 month ROI … even without materials handling equip- employees are not found; they an employee’s hands, they factoring in reduced errors ment and can raise the effort are developed. should do everything they and greater productivity. required for picking orders by 2. Poor loading facilities can to it before putting it 7. Unsafe operations as much as 500 percent. Everything product that down. Count the movements In this industry it is amaz- 10. Poorly planned comes in and out of the and temporary staging steps ing that there are relatively Very few moves are building must pass through a wasted as stocking, picking few accidents. Why, because properly programmed and loading dock or loading area. and packing are performed. the people are unconsciously all too often something may Poor or nonexistent docks add Employees all too often wear slowing to avoid dangerous be relocated a dozen times to overhead with redundant out the materials before goods situations, losing time and simply because nobody knew handling and lost labor. But, can be shipped to the cus- productivity, while trying to where it should go. This can all is not lost. tomer. stay out of harms way. happen regardless of whether 36 April/May/June 2010 www.constructiondistribution.com Distribution Management moving across the city, across Don’
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