By Touching your Product in your Warehouse, Are You Adding Value?
Often, the answer is no. Touching, moving and handling product in a warehouse adds cost, but no value. So how do we minimize material handling work without sacrificing productivity and customer service levels?
By simplifying processes, reducing touches, combining tasks, shortening travel and eliminating steps, labor and cost is reduced in the warehouse operation.
There are now warehousing fleet management systems that will graphically breadcrumb the travel of a lift truck in the warehouse. Following its path, a warehouse supervisor is able to identify unnecessary travel, combine trips and reduce overall warehousing costs. Are you currently measuring the amount of travel in your warehouse? Ask yourself these questions:
- How far do your people need to travel to complete a task in your operation?
- By changing an item’s location, can you optimize travel and reduce labor?
- How far does a lift truck driver need to travel to transport a product?
- By using a double, triple or quadruple pallet jack, can you combine trips and reduce travel?
A negative pick is using a lift truck to lower a pallet to the ground from a reserve location in order to retrieve a case load to make up an order. These are the steps:
- Carry a pallet for an outbound order on forks to a storage location.
- Drop pallet at a distance from the storage location.
- Raise empty forks to a pallet stored in a reserve location.
- Remove the pallet.
- Lower the pallet.
- Climb down from the forklift.
- Unload a case from the pallet on the forks to the outbound order pallet.
- Jump back on the forklift and elevate the pallet to its storage location.
- Store the pallet.
- Lower the forklift’s forks.
- Collect the outbound order’s pallet.
- Move to the next pick location and repeat the process.
High level order picker
Is work reduced by using a stock picker to perform the same work? Here are the steps:
- Collect outbound order pallet and travel to the storage location.
- Raise to the storage location.
- Pick case from the stored pallet.
- Move to the next pick location.
By combining steps through the use of specialized orderpicking equipment, a number of steps were removed and time and labor costs were reduced.
Is there an opportunity to use gravity or automation to move product? Here are some ideas to provide movement through low tech or high tech automation:
- Pallet flow and carton flow uses gravity to move product to the picker.
- Push back racking brings a pallet forward using gravity a the pick level.
- Dense pallet storage, such as radio shuttle, moves pallets using a robotic cart.
- Conveyor moves product and routes it to its destination in the warehouse.
- A mini load crane can pick and assemble orders.
Is there a way for you to raise barriers to travel in the air? If you can create more straight line travel, work and costs will be eliminated.