1. WALK THE FLOOR
Active floor supervision helps managers improve performance in the distribution center in three ways – space utilization, product flow and work flow.
2. MEASURE AND MONITOR
Measurements or metrics can be used to monitor your overall operations (cost-per-order shipped or lines picked per man-hour) or specific improvement issues (lost-time injuries or error rate per hundred orders shipped).
3. LOOK AT SPACE UTILIZATION
Start by examining cube utilization of your facility. If there is empty space near the ceiling, then higher racks, narrower aisles and forklifts with higher lifting capacities could allow you to store and move more materials. Also, look for obsolete inventory. If a stock-keeping unit (SKU) hasn’t moved in more than a year, it’s wasting valuable space.
4. CHECK PRODUCT FLOW
Make a point of tracing how product flows through your facility regularly to see if the flow is still logical and sequential. Up to 60 percent of direct labor in the warehouse is attributed to traveling from location to location.
5. TEST THE WORK FLOW
One of our customers had a great idea. The warehouse manager asked a friend in, handed him a pick ticket and asked him to fill an order. It gave that manager an idea of where process improvement is needed.