Tag Archive: equipment

Warehousing Strategies for Success

July 12th, 2018

The Amazon Effect is creating elevated levels of stress in the warehousing and distribution world. The key question is how to provide immediate deliveries, customized service, easy returns, and more for a reduced cost – a very good question indeed!

A few considerations to ponder:

  •  Storage capacity -What is your storage capacity?  How does that compare with your requirements?  And how can you maximize what you can store in your warehouse?
  • Flow – Are you running in circles around your warehouse to support your customers?  Similar to a manufacturing environment, flow can be an essential ingredient to warehousing success – or not.
  • Productivity – Have you automated what makes sense and will increase your speed/ throughput? If it doesn’t improve speed (and accuracy) to your customers, is it really more productive?  Similarly, is outsourcing truly more productive?
  • Equipment – What equipment is built into your warehousing strategy?  Would an upgrade provide a return on investment?
  • Data – Are you using predictive analytics and data analysis to make informed decisions to stay ahead of your competition?
  • WMS tools – Whether “poor man’s” or sophisticated, do you have a way to pick, put away and sort efficiently?
  • Inventory – Don’t ever forget inventory.  Without having the right product in the right place at the right time at the lowest system-wide inventory (and potentially end-to-end supply chain network inventory), what else will matter?

We have yet to come across a warehousing or distribution client that didn’t have at least a 20% improvement opportunity.  Have you looked into your opportunities lately?  Most likely your competition is!

If you need help thinking through your warehousing and distribution strategy, contact us.


Production Scheduling

May 13th, 2014
The fun of production scheduling is also the most important aspect, managing competing priorities and variables to find the best overall solution.

The fun of production scheduling is also the most important aspect, managing competing priorities and variables to find the best overall solution.

Production scheduling has been a part of my expertise since my post-college days at Coca-Cola Enterprises. It has been a part of every job I’ve held (whether directly or indirectly) and a part of almost every project I’ve consulted on since. Thus, I have a passion for this topic.

I’ve always found production scheduling to be fun and exciting as you have the opportunity to optimize among competing priorities and variables (inventory levels/cash flow, service levels/sales, and costs/operational efficiencies) to find the best overall solution. The best production schedulers not only find the optimal answer but they also communicate effectively and align everyone on the same page. A tall order yet invaluable! A few considerations for success include:

1. Start with the customer – As with everything that pops to mind in business success, it’s best to start with the customer.  What does the customer need?  Understand your customer’s requirements and priorities.

2. Cycle time – How long does it take to run an item through the standard production process?  How does this compare with the customer’s lead time?  Are there unique materials /purchased components?  How does this affect your cycle time?

3. Understand cash flow – Follow the money!  Inventory ties up cash.  How much inventory do you need?  Why?  What does Finance expect you to produce?  It matters – without cash, your business will not thrive.

4. Consider operational efficiencies – Do you know the impact of your decisions? Are there changeovers (changes in size, color, etc.)?  If so, how long do they take?  Do some take longer than others?  Is there a sequence which makes more sense?  Can you work with operations to reduce the batch quantities?  

5. Understand staffing impacts – What is the regular schedule for Operations?  Will your schedule require overtime?  Hiring?  Temps?  Can you move volume among machines?  Machine groups?  In-house vs. outsource?  Can your schedule affect the skill requirements?  Perhaps you can optimize with the available staffing.

6.  Understand equipment and tooling impacts – Will your schedule affect the number or type of machines required?  Does flexibility trump capital costs?  

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Supply Chain Collaboration

October 7th, 2013
Collaboration is at the center of successful working relationships with your supply chain partners.

Collaboration is at the center of successful working relationships with your supply chain partners.

Collaborating with supply chain partners not only develops stronger partnerships but it also can deliver significant bottom line business results.

I’ve noticed that my strongest clients dedicate time and attention to developing relationships and collaborating with their suppliers, customers, transportation partners, brokers, trusted advisors etc.

There are countless options to think about …

1. Collaborative ordering – I’ve worked with multiple companies to set up processes so that they can determine what to order and when for their key customers (such as Boeing) – this creates a win-win.  You are a stronger partner to Boeing and you have the opportunity to optimize inventory, freight and internal efficiencies.

2. Supplier partnerships – Instead of win-lose negotiations; successful companies find win-win opportunities.  How can both companies increase profit, reduce time etc.?

3.  Warehousing partners – Look in unusual places for partners to share warehouse space – customers, suppliers, friendly competitors, other key relationships?  For example, who does your commercial banker know who might need to share costs?

4. Transportation partners – There are an amazing number of options to get from point A to point B.  Do you just hire a carrier or ship everything via UPS?  Have you thought about using rail in collaboration with local companies?  Pooling trucks?

5. Collaborative R&D – Are you involving your customers, suppliers, equipment suppliers, transportation providers and others in your product development process?  How else will you optimize packaging, customer needs, material options and more into one plan?

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Supply Chain Collaboration