Best Practices for Distribution Centers

By March 26, 2015 March 30th, 2015 Blog

Large distribution centers are the heart of the economy. Large warehouses provide consumers with valuable goods and commodities, and the centers employ millions of employees in the US and overseas. The complex operations require innovative logistical strategies, teamwork, and effective best practices for distribution centers. All have to work together to create one, and one cannot work alone to support the others. Warehouses and distributions centers can employ new practices to save money, improve efficiency, and honor the company’s integrity.

1. Get organized

Seems simple, but some centers complicate organization. Zones should be divided by pick type.

2. Create a shipping notification system

Implement electronic shipping notifications. Electronic notifications permit management to organize and plan labor more effectively. Always know when and where your products and deliveries are.

3. Streamline data collection

Deploy an RF or RFID strategy to collect accurate data about the shipping process. The system permits management to see real-time data about each step in the warehouse process.

4. Use labor management software

Labor management software assists users in controlling costs by providing users with a comprehensive picture of the labor situation. An effective software system provides an accurate, in-demand assessment of the labor condition.

5. Get rid of unnecessary steps

Stop taking unnecessary steps; doing so will increase efficiency and make the process much quicker, which means happier customers. Consider all the steps made during the distribution process. If any step or movement cannot be traced and tracked as movement, it is called a ‘turnback.” Turnbacks must be reported to determine how the step or movement can be eliminated and/or reconfigured for efficiency. Another time-consuming and ineffective method is picking into bins or totes instead of directly into the shipping carton/container. NSA specializes in best practices for distribution centers using technology that makes distribution centers more efficient.

6. Implement a better slotting strategy

Deploy a better slotting strategy that reduces time wasted on travel time, either on foot, on a radio, or in the seat of a forklift. Effective slotting and reslotting involves determining the best place to store stock based on a range of factors. The process eliminates injuries, damage to products, and travel time, all while improving the accuracy of the picking process. A slotting tool software program uses many different algorithms to create an effective and money-saving slotting strategy. For example, if a product is picked more often than another is, it goes to the front of the warehouse and at eye-level for more convenient picking.

7. Rethink the dock

A few strategies will assist in making the dock more efficient. If the facility has multiple docks, offloading labor can be more effective if multiple shipments arrive at the same time. There is even a chance to eliminate the need for unloading shipments, using the warehouse for sorting and staging, and the reloading for distribution. The cross-docking method requires loading products from one container to the other right on the dock. Staging in the docking area reduces the need for everything required in-between loading and reloading.

 

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