For Susan Rider of Rider & Associates, a major challenge is finding time for continuous improvement.
"DCs focus on what they need to get done for that day, and there is not a separate team analyzing how to improve each aspect of the facility," Rider says. "Over the last few years, DCs have become very lean, and there are barely enough people to get the work done — so adding improvement projects is just out of the question."
Rider says that the solution is to make time for quick fixes. Walk times and touch times are obvious places to start. Processes that once made sense can grow less efficient over time. If the number of times workers touch a product has increased, or if wait times have lengthened, you're wasting money.
"Simple, quick fixes can usually increase productivity or accuracy by 1 percent or 2 percent," Rider says. "If you can find four or five of those across the facility, you can add big dollars to the bottom line over a period of a year."
Additional challenges and solutions appear in the January issue of Distribution Center Management newsletter.
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For more than 40 years, Distribution Group publications have helped distribution center and warehouse managers increase productivity, cut costs, and meet increasing customer demands. Distribution Group publishes "Distribution Center Management" newsletter, books and reports, and a free e-newsletter.