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WINTER 2020

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Distributor's Link Magazine Winter 2020 / Vol 43 No1

52 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S

52 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. ORDER PICKING PHILOSOPHIES Most Fastener Distributors develop their order picking procedures based on philosophy, not statistics, science or even efficiency…if they even implement a consistent methodology. Far too often the order pickers are basically turned loose with a mandate to pick the most orders, in the least amount of time and without making any mistakes. Unfortunately the new hires come from the bottom end of the job market and are frequently totally unequipped to manage their lives, let alone their jobs. Order picking methods should be developed in coordination with your customers’ orders and the capabilities of the staff, along with the potential of your personnel. Statistical analysis, hiring practices, training and motivation should be what dictates the vital order processing, but does this actually happen in your operation? The Absolutely Worst Way to Pick This industry presents an opportunity to practice the most inefficient and often absurd methods of picking using weigh counts. The epitome of this is one operation I visited where one individual removed one bin of parts at a time, walked the materials halfway across the building to a weigh station and then returned the now lighter bin to its original location…some of the time. This obviously violates many principles of common sense picking and with all the double handling their CONTRIBUTOR ARTICLE error rate was far worse than industry averages. Why? Because the staff could not remain fully focused in their travels and often replaced the parts bins in the wrong location, leading to errors by every successive picker. The quick cure was simply to use a battery powered scale on a cart to cut walking and keep the personnel near their point of picking. Unfortunately that didn’t completely alleviate the errors because no one was trained to recognize what they were picking and whether it made any sense. Why might a customer order ½” diameter bolts and 4” diameter washers with 2” holes on a two line order? Could happen, but more likely an incorrectly entered order for 2” washers with ½” holes. Absurd methods employed by untrained and inattentive staff can easily be identified if one objectively examines the situation in context as well as the statistics. The Second Worst Way… or the Best of Ways to Pick Orders Handing one person one order at a time to bring materials to packing is another inefficient picking method. With short orders it guarantees lost steps, lost time, far too much staffing and often kills motivation. Yet this is probably the most popular method in the fastener industry. Think of this in terms of grocery shopping. CONTINUED ON PAGE 130

THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK 53

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