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SPRING 2021

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Distributor's Link Magazine Spring 2021 / Vol 44 No 2

130 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S

130 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK ROBERT FOOTLIK IMPROVING THE RECEIVING PROCESS from page 66 Bar coding, RFID and scanable labels can hold a wealth of information suitable for stocking and inventorying the goods. Color coding can make these identifiers into a staff friendly pneumonic. Changing the colors and label design by materials, season, and vendor creates an easily identified visual indication of items that are in the wrong place. As an Industrial Engineering student I learned how time and motion studies can facilitate forecasting labor utilization and facility availability. As a practicing Consultant I quickly learned that this can be a very laborious and time consuming project unless you know about the magic of Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). Leave the fine detail to a WMS that can track every movement with precision and supplement this by noting what is going on, and who is doing it, every time you are walk the facility. Your observations can point to what data to extract, how to analyze it and most importantly the best ways to visualize and present the information For example, a simple head count of the receiving staff correlated with the time and day of the observation over a few weeks can provide many insights regarding labor allocation…and how to modify inbound orders. If the WMS is logging in orders along with who is doing the work your “gut feel” and sampling can be used to know the best practices to allocate the receiving resources and then demonstrate this knowledge for both staff and management. Receiving Departments Are Very Demanding On Equipment Going in and out of highway equipment, short trips, braking with heavy loads, frequent turns and general bumps and lumps will take a toll on any materials handling equipment. Similarly data collection tools, printers, computers and scales are constantly stressed and often abused. Develop programs for preventative maintenance, periodic updating and replacement of the hardware. Ancient technology that uses too much paper and takes too long robs any operation of time and money. Invest in heavy duty technology, not the cheapest throw away consumer products. Printers and scanners now drive your warehouse production. Don’t leave people waiting for obsolete equipment and/or systems to catch up to the needs of production. You Don’t Expect “Good Enough” Performance From Your Doctors “Sort of…,” “almost,” “OOPS!” and other expressions are not acceptable in many aspects of your personal life and attitudes that foster mediocrity should never be acceptable at work, especially since good management can directly control quality. The only acceptable output from receiving is perfection. Mistakes in this area multiply throughout the warehouse and inevitably reach the customers. Expect perfection, give the staff the tools to achieve it and reward their efforts at least psychologically. Track quality performance thru the WMS, check and share customer complaints as well as complements, then find ways to get your staff involved. Nothing should leave receiving until it is properly checked in, identified, verified, labeled and dispatched to the right location. You set the standards and expect everyone to meet them at all times, even when stressed. It’s a lot easier to solve problems that don’t happen. One secret in making this aura of perfection work is to quarantine problems. Damaged goods, questionable orders and “lost paperwork” should be sidelined for frequent periodic inspection and resolution. Don’t let things pile up, but definitely set up a physical space where problems can be resolved by the most qualified personnel. All too often incoming freight pulls down productivity. Never let the problems let it clog the aisles, fill expensive real estate and divert resources. If it cannot be handled readily by the normal systems sideline it and come back later. CONTINUED ON PAGE 154

THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK 131

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