While the term “social distancing” is the common parlance we all use and hear every day during the pandemic, the CDC also uses “physical distancing” with the same definition – “keeping a safe space – currently defined as at least 6 feet – between individuals from different households.” Given our focus is always on the workplace, we’ve been using “physical distancing” and will continue to do so. But how do you enforce it at the workplace? If there has been one thing that the recent spikes and the difficulty of the last seven months have proved is that the discipline required to eliminate workplace disruptions has been difficult to maintain on a voluntary basis.
This week we’d like to dive into some industry data from the annual “Industry Outlook Report” that is published every year by Logistics Management and Modern Materials Handling. It’s a comprehensive survey of decision makers with purchasing authority for materiel handling solutions, and it’s often a useful way to validate some of the trends and challenges we see in our own client base as well as learn about others that may have been out of our purview.
Many Changes are Here to Stay
If there is one thing that last two months have demonstrated, it is both the resilience that has sustained many supply chains during an unprecedented health and economic crisis, AND the reality that we will never be going back to doing things the same way again. Industries that were deemed “essential” like food distribution, healthcare and other logistics-heavy operations have in many cases had to deal with unprecedented velocity and strain on capacities, all while trying to prevent losing capacity to illness and fatigue.
How Do You Create The "Touchless Warehouse"?
One of the mainstay principles of good process design in the distribution center has always been to "minimize touches". It's a very basic concept that drives home the point that items should get from A to B with as few touches as possible, preferably just ONE. But the upheaval stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic is ironically putting intense pressure on the distribution and logistics side of many industries while other areas of the business may be scaling back (i.e. the storefront). The Food & Beverage industry, in particular, is an "essential" business and if the shelves of your local supermarket are any indication, the velocity of materials flying through that supply chain must be well above norms even for a pre-holiday shopping week. But the increased pressure on the supply chain comes not only from the high demand, but also from the fear of losing employees to extended sick leave because of the spread of the virus. How can a distribution center and other areas of the supply chain fulfill their mission while not just preserving, but INCREASING employee safety beyond your standard solutions? This is the question we asked ourselves while conceptualizing what we are now calling the "Touchless Warehouse". It's no longer just about "minimizing touches" but now it's about "minimizing TOUCHING" altogether.
Note 1 from AMG: This post was originally published by Zebra Technologies on 9 March 2020 and is re-published here with their permission.
Note 2 from AMG: References and links to most of the guidelines below will take you off-site to Zebra.com. However, most of the guidance here will apply to your devices regardless of the manufacturer.
Given the rapidly evolving situation with the COVID-19 coronavirus, we are receiving a high volume of questions about how our products should be cleaned in order to best protect the front-line workers using them in hospitals, warehouses, stores, routes, and more. These inquiries span across the entire portfolio of mobile computers, scanners and printers that we offer … and come from every industry we service today.
As the stream of emails from exhibitors you’ve seen this week indicate, MODEX 2020 finally starts on Monday, March 9th. Advanced Mobile Group will be there of course, and in addition to our booth (#8087) our own Jim Donahue will be presenting on an innovative way to use Voice Technology to halve the time spent on the loading dock. We’ll share a sneak preview of his presentation today and provide everything else you need to know about AMG’s presence next week in Atlanta.
What is the quickest way for a dock manager to load two trucks from one bay, each with twelve pallets, loaded equally with three different products and intended for delivery at two different stops? This can be done faster with Voice Technology. But how?
Ask a facility manager to list the biggest challenges they face, and they almost unanimously include “space” in their top three, if not number one. This is often a symptom of growth outpacing the ability to expand into more space, but is most often the result of space being used ineffectively. In a perfect world, your facility is full of robots, modular racking that adapts to changes quickly, and A WMS with an AI feature that automatically places everything in its optimal space, ensuring every inch is utilized and every unused inch is known and tracked.