12 Great Warehousing Ideas

A panel of industry leaders shared 60 warehousing ideas in 60 minutes at the National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment meeting held in April.

Here's a selection of ideas from panelists Daniel Knight, director, fulfillment/quality, Home Shopping Network; Christy Para, director, logistics systems, The Container Store; and Mark Taylor, CEO, Taylor Systems Engineering Corp.

1. Catch your staff doing something right. Carry gift certificates to places such as Starbucks, McDonald's, movie theaters, or the car wash. When someone has done something above and beyond the norm, recognize their efforts immediately by giving them a small token of appreciation. —Mark Taylor

2. When you notice someone doing something not according to standard, ask their permission to offer a suggestion. Doing so softens the feedback that follows, and gives the other person a moment to prepare so they are less likely to be caught off guard. —Mark Taylor

3. Have your daily goals and results open automatically on PCs when staff members log in. This keeps everyone aware of the previous day's achievements.—Christy Para

4. Have all information shared at huddles or team meetings in a log. Anyone who missed the huddle can simply read the log and catch up on what they missed. This keeps everyone up to speed at all times. —Christy Para

5. Help everyone in the facility understand your metrics. Have managers in one department learn the metrics used by another department. Then, in a small group setting, have the managers teach these metrics to the supervisors. Supervisors then teach metrics to team leaders, who teach them to associates. Continue the process through the ranks until all levels of employees have completed this cycle for all metrics. The result: improved overall performance, as employees at every level better understand the business. —Daniel Knight

6. Improve your operations by talking with your top-performing employees.Ask for their ideas on how to improve efficiency and cut costs, then listen to their replies. Don't forget to give full credit for their ideas if you adopt them. —Daniel Knight

7. Focus on DC cleanliness. Every department at the Container Store's distribution center is assigned a group of aisles or an area in the DC that they are responsible for cleaning. Every day at the same time, an alarm goes off, which alerts everyone to stop and clean for 10 minutes. This helps keep the DC in tiptop shape daily. —Christy Para

8. Make it easy to spot pallet jacks that have wandered off. Assign different colored tape to various areas in your operation, then attach that color tape to pallet jack handles assigned to a particular area. —Christy Para

9. If you use bar-code scanners to scan order numbers, hook each scanner to a bungee cord. This keeps the scanner in the same spot and enables associates to simply let go of it, eliminating the possibility of the scanner dropping to the floor. —Mark Taylor

10. If you have multiple facilities in your distribution network, conduct a monthly best practice conference call between DCs to share and discuss internal best practices. Focus on two or three different departments each month. Group departments by process, such as receiving, quality assurance, and putaway for inbound. —Daniel Knight

11. Take a few minutes each month to pick an order or pack a shipment.There's no substitute for experience—get out there and re-experience your facility. Benefits of doing so include enhanced visibility, heightened awareness, increased approachability, improved manager/employee relations, increased efficiencies, reduced operating costs, improved safety, and more. —Daniel Knight

12. If you ship parcels and LTL shipments, compare rates. We recently rated four boxes, class 55, weighing 149 pounds, going from Raleigh, N.C., to Dallas. The small parcel carrier's rates were $302 for next day, $236 for second day, and $88 for ground with a three-day delivery commitment. The cost for an LTL one-day direct shipment was $42.50. —Mark Taylor

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