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FALL 2014

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Distributor's Link Magazine Fall Issue 2014

40 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S

40 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK Robert B. Footlik Robert B. Footlik is a licensed professional engineer. A graduate of Illinois Institute of Technology, he has worked extensively in the fields of material handling, plant layout, packaging and management systems. The firm of Footlik and Associates serves as staff warehousing and materials consultants to six trade associations. Footlik writes for 12 trade and professional journals. Footlik and Associates is located at 2521 Gross Point Road, Evanston, Illinois 60601; phone 847-328-5644. WHEN PERFECTION IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH Every Fastener Distributor who wants to stay in business needs to continually improve, enhance and communicate every aspect of their operation. If you objectively think about your warehouse the primary “customers” are the employee’s who use the facility, manage the inventory and satisfy the external customers. Typically staff members have never encountered perfection in their lives and have virtually no experience with the concept. Sure you expect them to get things right but have you provided the environment and tools to achieve this elusive goal Psychological Walls Think back to your elementary school years. What grade got you an “A” Perhaps 90+% of perfect or 10% wrong. What grade meant you passed the exam or class with a “C” Perhaps 70% of perfect or 30% wrong. And your class mate who got a “D” Any grade north of 60% moved him to the next grade, poorly equipped to cope with increased learning and expectations. It gets worse…all this was graded on a “curve” and if everyone did poorly the brightest student might have actually achieved less than 70% of perfection. Fast forward to today and these are the individuals who staff your company. They are psychologically unprepared for perfection. They have never been expected to achieve this in their academic career and are even less motivated in their private lives. This is a huge barrier to overcome. Taking the operation to a higher level of quality, productivity and success is not going to work unless all the elements are in place, endorsed by top management and welcomed by the people involved. Perfection can never be achieved without everyone buying into this lofty goal as realistic and achievable. Your job is to provide the tools needed to change their attitudes and guarantee success. Visual Perfection This is the easiest to see. A good warehouse is clean, neat, organized and safe. In fact Section 1910.22 of the Occupation Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires this, but for those in pursuit of perfection this is only a starting point. Every aisle should be stocked uniformly using techniques that enhance picking speed and accuracy. This means training everyone to use the same procedures for each product class or type. Simple, right Dividing the warehouse staff and management into teams and sending each team down an aisle to “neaten” the aisle usually reveals a multitude of opinions for what constitutes “neat.” Do the exercise and use the results to build standardized procedures that are right for your context. please turn to page 204

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