Supply Chain News / Warehousing

DCs Losing Time

January 4, 2013
KEYWORDS costs / warehousing
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Got a minute? Current research by Intermec Inc. indicates that nearly eight out of 10 warehouse and distribution center managers have been asked to cut an average of 20 percent of cost from existing operations.

Despite this mounting pressure to cut costs and the need to find efficiency gains in every process, managers admit to losing time and money through known inefficient workflows, says Intermec. Over an eight-hour shift, each worker loses an average of 15 minutes of productivity in inefficient processes, the study shows. For a small- to medium-sized warehouse with 50 workers, this quickly adds up to nearly 3,000 hours a year, and could be a significantly higher number in larger organizations.

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Though most managers have been tasked with finding cost savings, says the report, about a third had not conducted a review of workflow processes in their distribution centers in the past year.

The winner for most inefficient process is packing and loading, selected by 20 percent of respondents. Close behind that are picking and inventory control, which both garnered 18 percent.

Respondents said that inventory control (53 percent) and picking (47 percent) are the two areas where improvements can most easily be achieved.

Those managers who had conducted a workflow review in the past year said that compliance and continuous improvement were prime motivators. Of the 30 percent who had not conducted such a review, compliance and poor performance would prompt them to make a review. And, 16 percent said they would not review processes until after a customer complaint was received.

A strong majority of respondents (89 percent) said that investments in new technology would help them win back some of the lost time. “Businesses should be looking at every workflow in detail on a regular basis to claim back the minutes and seconds they need to achieve these savings,” said Bruce Stubbs, Intermec industry marketing director for distribution center operations,

 The research was sponsored by Intermec and conducted by Vanson Bourne. 

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