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Distributor's Link Magazine Spring 2019 / Vol 42 No2

36 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S

36 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK Robert Footlik Robert B. Footlik, PE is a retired Professional Industrial Engineer. With over 50 years’ experience as a Warehouse and Logistics Consultant to a wide variety of clients including Fastener Distributors, Bob has a wealth of valuable information for our industry and he is willing to share it. While Footlik & Associates is now closed, his expertise is still available to his friends and our readers. For friendly advice, a second opinion or just to start a conversation, he can be reached at robert@footlik.net. SEVEN PROBLEMS - MULTIPLE SOLUTIONS One might think that big Fastener Distributors experience big problems due to their size, volume of sales and massive facilities…and some do. But the vast majority of distributors encounter at least seven problems in their operation regardless of how many zeros appear after their sales figures. Large or small every warehouse is subject to limitations that are all too often artificial, self-induced and easily fixed once the manager or team focus on the totality of the operation, not just the ulcer du jour. [1] The Shipping Area Is Too Small This is a frequent problem that is most frequently solved simply by enlarging the area which only kicks the problem down the road. A far better approach is to consider how to turn the space faster, better utilize existing resources and change the timing. For example, a pick/pre-package approach spreads the shipping area throughout the warehouse. With this solution each picker places materials directly from the shelf into the shippable unit. There are many considerations involved (covered in multiple previous articles) but the bottom line is that if the staff is trained and trusted the shipping area is only required for spot checking, labeling and sealing the orders. Labor saving alone guarantees a fast Return on Investment (RoI), and it also vastly diminishes the shipping and packing area. CONTRIBUTOR ARTICLE The solution might also involve better utilization of tools that are already on hand. Changing the picking carts or conveyor system, ergonomic improvements, replacing the packing benches, better storage of packing materials and a simple take away conveyor can also save space and time. Speaking of time… modifying the workday schedule can work wonders on space saving. Try working backwards from when the orders must be out and then plan the day accordingly. If UPS picks up at 3:00 PM it may be possible to negotiate a later pick up, drop trailer or twice daily pickups. And it this proves problematic why not have the packers come in earlier, with picking starting ½ hour before they arrive? Guiding Principle: Space constraints are often a symptom, not the disease. [2] Shipping Packages Require Too Much Time For Assembly There are many simple modifications to standard cardboard boxes that will drastically reduce the time required for set up. “Pop bottoms” with overlapping flaps are readily available from U-Line and many carton manufacturers. One pull on opposite corners will result in a fully open box far faster than staples, taping or other assembly methods. Adding vendor logos and selling the co-op advertising can even turn an expense into a profit center. CONTINUED ON PAGE 120

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