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Archives for December 2011

You Might Have a Bad Warehouse If…The Shifts Aren’t in Sync

By Kate Vitasek | 12/26/2011 | 5:00 AM

During the holiday season we are all pressed for time and stressed about making it all come together – on time and on budget. Making it all come together on the warehouse floor has to happen every day, but often it’s not that easy.

For the final Bad Warehouse item of 2011 I want to relate a short scenario that can really cause stress, and expense, in the warehouse.

I witnessed a warehouse that had its receiving department working on a 6:00 am to 2:00 pm shift. This might have been an okay plan except that the inbound trucks at this site were not scheduled to arrive until after lunch each day, meaning that the receiving shift had to work overtime almost every day. Warehouse

This is another scenario that should never happen in a WERC best practices warehouse. Perhaps the most vital and basic warehouse function is receiving. If product flow is not handled in a timely and efficient manner then the problems and costs will ripple throughout the site like a rock dropped into a pond.

The first section of the WERC Best Practices Guide is devoted to receiving and inspection.

“Dock best practice depends on the type of inbound you receive and for many companies balancing available dock doors, equipment and labor is difficult, so the receiving dock becomes a choke point in the supply chain,” the guide says. If the receiving shift is sitting around for seven hours waiting for the trucks, that is most definitely a difficult, inefficient and expensive arrangement.

Under Federal Hours-of-Service Regulations—which by the way are changing—pick-up and delivery times are counted toward the drivers’ on-duty time limits, another complication as this is not productive time for carriers. “Because of this, carriers are pressuring companies to improve their appointment and dock operations or transportation costs will increase across the industry to cover theses inefficiencies. Companies need to communicate with carriers and suppliers, this can and does take many forms, form phone calls and emails to web portals to integrated scheduling software.”

Most major WMS software packages include a dock scheduling module that companies can use as the main tool for dock management.

So get those shifts in sync for a Happy New Year!

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 WERC Warehouse Certification 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).”

You Might Have a Bad Warehouse If…There's Too Much Stock In Obsolete Stock

By Kate Vitasek | 12/12/2011 | 5:00 AM

Obsolete, lost or misplaced stock is a recurring problem in the annals of bad warehouse practices but logistics and supply chain consultant Susan Rider, owner of Rider & Associates, adds a special twist this week, noting that obsolete stock can lead to even bigger problems and questionable decisions.

Warehouse stock

She recently wrote that she visited a warehouse with “several thousand square feet dedicated to pallets and pallets of obsolete stock that hadn’t been touched in over three years.” She was asked to help the warehouse management design a new 250,000 square-foot addition.

You probably know what happens next because the outcome is fairly obvious, says Susan. “After talking them into getting rid of that obsolete stock there was no need to invest in the capital expenditure of a new building.”

It's okay to chuckle, but this type of scenario occurs fairly often. “Many times the VP of Supply Chain can’t convince the VP of Merchandising to let go of this old stuff. A business case developed to show the bottom line impact of storing obsolete inventory can open eyes,” says Susan.

This sort of situation should never arise in a WERC best practices warehouse. For one thing how it that stock—obsolete or not—can sit around collecting dust for three years? It’s almost 2012! Warehousing inventory control software makes it easy to keep product and storage data current and accurate.

Further, instead of examining how to optimize the space and floor plan—which at that point would identify the obsolete stock—the owners decided it was time to expand the warehouse.

The WERC Best Practices Guide says: “Regardless of the mission of the warehouse, best practice companies have designed storage systems to meet the needs of the current and planned mix of storage types. They have optimized storage locations and layouts to fit product without the need to restack or re-palletize it once received.”  

While most companies initially put a lot of effort into the layout of the warehouse, “industry surveys will tell you that as many as half the companies do not have an ongoing process in place to review their layouts.”

The guide continues that regular reviews of how storage areas are configured and having processes in place to reconfigure storage areas as product mix changes “is critical to maintaining high levels of space utilization and efficiency.” Simply making “continuous small adjustments to racks, shelving or other storage equipment can have a great impact on space utilization.”

If you do all of the above first, the need to build a costly addition probably goes away.

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 WERC Warehouse Certification 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).”

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

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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