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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 [email protected]. 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).”

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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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