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Avoid the 10 most common warehousing mistakes


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.

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									     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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