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Archives for October 2011

You Might Have A Bad Warehouse If…Time and Inventory Stand Still

By Kate Vitasek | 10/31/2011 | 5:00 AM

Keeping track of your inventory is essential, especially if you wind up paying for it to sit around the warehouse for five years(!) as Tom Freese, principal of Freese & Associates Inc. relates in this week’s bad practice story:

 

 

 

Talk about an easy revenue stream for the public warehouse! Not only were the calendars outdated and useless, as Tom notes, they were out-of-sight-out-of-mind. Shame on both sides for allowing this to go on for five years. The paper company lost track of its inventory or just forgot all about it and wound up paying through the nose to the public warehouse, which obviously had no vested interest other than to collect the monthly check from the company.

This is a costly mistake and unfortunately one that happens all too frequently, but it is also avoidable. In the case related by Tom it’s absolutely incredible that it went on for as long as it did.

Care should be taken when choosing a public warehouse – I’d advise picking one that’s reputable, and that has a basic, working inventory control system. There are many great public warehouses out there – but also some bad ones. One way to differentiate is to ask your potential service provider if they are certified under WERC’s Warehouse Certification Program.      

As the WERC Best Practices Guide says, “Inventory is money,” so keep track of inventory as you would money. The basic activities surrounding inventory control should include well-documented and defined processes, regular cycle counts, metrics to measure the accuracy of inventory activity (or inactivity), properly marked storage areas and a single system of record.

Most important is the right company mindset. The guide says, “Just like customer service, safety or quality, inventory accuracy must be seen as every employee’s responsibility, not just the responsibility of those who perform inventory transactions. All levels of the organization should promote it and support it.”

Finally, if you are the customer, never lose sight of your inventory!

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 A Basic Failure To Communicate

By Kate Vitasek | 10/17/2011 | 5:00 AM

Job one in running a smooth warehouse—and any business for that matter—is understanding what the customer wants and then communicating effectively and continuously. Even more important, the customer must understand what it wants. This basic idea went terribly wrong in this tale related by Ed Romaine, Chief Marketing Officer at Sapient Automation, and formerly VP Marketing at KardexRemstar.

 

 

“Is that a problem?” Ya think? I’d say that was definitely a major problem. I would love to have been a fly on the wall to see Ed’s reaction after hearing that! Not only is it a major miscommunication problem, it exposed a basic lack of understanding and awareness of what was happening and the nature of the deal itself on the part of the customer. After more than a year of setting things up and two weeks after the project was completed they change their mind?! What a frustrating waste of time, money and man-hours.

That type of scenario can be avoided by making sure the customer understands what it wants to happen and what will happen during every step of the process from the start. That includes receiving and management, transactions, slotting, storage and inventory control/strategy, communicating with suppliers and carriers about shipment status, and shipping and transportation management. The WERC Best Practices Guide outlines this entire process in a logical and step-by-fashion.

Unfortunately in Ed’s case somebody apparently wasn’t paying very much attention, or perhaps they were just really flakey.

A little communication can go a very long way.

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…You’re Not Using the Right Forklift

By Kate Vitasek | 10/03/2011 | 2:41 PM

Misusing the equipment, in this case forklifts, never works – it always catches up to you in terms of damage and big costs, as this bad warehouse tale of woe related by Doug Sampson, senior vice president at Acme Distribution illustrates:

 

 

 

Doug’s story exposes a warehouse with clueless and/or ill-trained managers and workers who either don’t know about the proper care and maintenance of their expensive forklifts, or they don’t care. An efficient and smooth-running warehouse begins with a fleet of smooth-running forklifts that are handled properly. In this case someone in charge apparently forgot to read the owner’s manual for its inside forklifts. If they had they might have seen warnings about the improper use of the equipment, and possibly ways to adapt the forklifts to handle both inside and outside storage chores.

It’s also interesting that that it took a third party—namely Doug—to notice the cause of the “out of control” forklift maintenance and repair charges. The problem was hiding in plain sight.

Proper use of the forklift fleet is basic to maintaining an efficient and safe workplace. As the WERC Best Practices Guide says, “Establishing basic workplace conditions is an essential first step in creating a safe and productive warehouse environment.”

Improper equipment use can “lead to waste, product damage and safety issues” including delays due to “defects, machine failures, or accidents,” the guide continues.

Take care and be aware of what’s happening with the single most valuable piece of equipment in the warehouse, because well, it’s just a big building without a well-tuned fleet of forklifts humming along.

You should never ask a tool to do more than it’s designed to do, and the same goes for forklifts.

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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