Somewhere in America, a consultant is getting a call from a DC in trouble—maybe productivity has tanked or inventory has hit critical mass (or critical mess). In any event, something is not right. The problem? Contrary to what you might expect, it's generally not a matter of obsolete equipment, malfunctioning systems, or supervisors from the Simon Legree school of management. Inevitably, says Tompkins Associates consultant Brian Hudock, who has answered a few of these SOS calls, the problem turns out to be something distinctly unglamorous: poor maintenance.
At more centers than you might expect, systems and equipment get serviced only when they go down. At others, preventive maintenance is done but the effort is less than scientific and the intervals are anything but precise.
Granted, scheduling routine preventive maintenance is difficult in times when customers are demanding made-to-order products and expect lightning fast Internet order fulfillment and 24/7 shipping. But as more companies try to eke another year or two of service out of their aging equipment, DC managers need to stay on top of the routine upkeep duties or risk the unthinkable. What follows are several often-overlooked ways DC managers can avoid that breakdown dead ahead.