May 15, 2009

Practical tips for improving your warehousing processes

By DC Velocity Staff

Logistics provider and warehouse operator OHL Inc. outlined for WERC attendees a 20-step process improvement plan that the company says could result in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in savings a year.

Company executives divided the tips and tricks into four categories: labor management, facility management, technology, and material handling. Many of the steps are simple changes that might seem obvious yet are often overlooked. For example, OHL observed that its warehouse employees spent excessive time walking to and from their time clocks at the end of a shift. OHL responded by moving the clocks from the break room to the shipping or receiving areas or to other functional areas in management's view. As a result, facilities reported reduced foot traffic to and from the clocks. It may seem like a small change, but in the case of one 200-employee facility, the savings amounted to $126,000 per year.

Another facility found that because there was no standardized layout and tools were not located at their point of use, employees on the assembly line were spending too much time walking between their tasks. The facility developed standardized best practices, designed work stations with all tools located at the location, and conducted weekly process audits. The result was a 15-percent increase in productivity, the OHL executives said.