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You Might Have A Bad Warehouse If... Your Warehouse is Built of Cardboard and String

By Kate Vitasek | 08/16/2010 | 7:40 AM
“I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in” screams the Big Bad Wolf in “The Three Little Pigs.”   Well, the Big Bad Wolf would be able to blow the warehouse we are featuring this week down with just one puff because this warehouse has built their racking system with cardboard and string. Of course this isn’t the only issue that we see! Can you pick out a few other issues?
 
Straw and Sticks2This bad warehouse story is courtesy of Steve Simmerman of Next View Software, Inc.  He ran across the website for a pharmaceutical distributor in a foreign country showcasing their capabilities.  This particular picture demonstrates their racking (uh...lack of) capabilities.  A closer look at the picture shows the racks are divided into slots by cardboard and tied together with string.  The only real structure is the metal poles (the frame for the racks) and the shelving that the cardboard is tied around.

Steve was quite impressed with the website and was digging around to learn more.  Their website actually has a ‘model’ introducing the company, how to navigate their website, and point you to check out their photo gallery.  It was here that Steve uncovered the photo he sent in.  “I don’t mean to pick on a small company in a foreign country, but if you go to the effort to have a decent website shouldn’t your warehouse be a bit more organized?”  Maybe their web designer needs to be promoted to general manager of the warehouse!

Steve continues, “I realize that certain areas of the world lack supply chain sophistication, resources, etc., but if you are a pharmaceutical distributor you don’t what to show this lack of organization in your warehouse, nor should you have cardboard shelf dividers held together with rope and string.” Steve did forget to mention that upper management may want to review their “marketing” strategy.

While cardboard and string may be considered best practice in other countries, this practice is, well, quite foreign to me. The Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) says best practice for storage and inventory control is to design storage systems to meet the needs of the current and planned mix of storage types. Best practice companies have optimized storage locations and layouts to fit product without the need to restack or re-palletize it once received. They also have regular reviews to ensure best access and proper sizing.

If you are not sure of the type of equipment you should be using in your warehouse, I would also suggest talking with the Material Handling Industry of America. And who can forget their trusty, well worn copy of Rules of Thumb: Warehousing and Distribution Guidelines. A new addition was just released and you can request an updated free copy or use the online cost calculator.

Even though this warehouse is located in a foreign country, many of the practices and equipment outlined by both WERC and MHIA are tested and proven and can be applied internationally.
 
Another area this warehouse should look into is organization. There appears to be multiple SKUs in one location. I am sure they could benefit from a quick lesson in slotting strategy.

I really love your feedback - and love your contributions to share those bad warehouse stories to help educate the profession on what NOT to do, and maybe what to do if you’re not doing it. If you've got an example of a bad warehouse practice, send me your story and photo(s) to Kate@SCVisions.com.

If I feature your example in one of my blogs, WERC will send you a free copy of the WERC Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmark & Best Practices Guide (a $160 value). Your submission can be anonymous if you like so you don't get your boss or company in trouble! I'll be collecting examples all year and the winner will receive a free warehouse assessment by Supply Chain Visions, a $10,000 value. The runner up will win a free conference registration to the WERC conference (a $1,375 value).

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About Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek is a nationally recognized innovator in the practice of supply chain management. Vitasek is founder of Supply Chain Visions—a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. She is also a faculty member at the University of Tennessee's Center for Executive Education. A prolific writer, Vitasek has authored the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' best-selling mini-book series, Supply Chain Process Standards, and has contributed to other management books as well. Along with Karl Manrodt of Georgia Southern University, she co-leads WERC's popular annual benchmarking study.



About Steve Murray

Steve Murray

Steve Murray is a Principal Consultant and Chief of Research for Supply Chain Visions, a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. Prior to joining Supply Chain Visions he held a variety of functional and management roles in the distribution and manufacturing sectors, including 15 year managing an IT consulting firm. Steve has been instrumental in development of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professional's "Supply Chain Management Process Standards", the Warehousing Education and Research Council's Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmarking & Best Practice Guide" and the WERC "Warehouse Certification Program". He is lead auditor for the WERC's Certification Program.



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