We’ve all justifiably spent a lot of time over the last year focusing on the issues our industry is facing in keeping supply chains intact and running smoothly in the face of unprecedented demand and disruptions stemming from the pandemic. Amid all the shortages, delays and price changes, and like an exclamation point on a very memorable year, we also had a global shortage of containers due to the blockage of the Suez canal.
There is probably a higher level of public awareness about how the logistics industry works and its technology than ever before. Who hasn’t had at least a passing interest in how a nation plans to get over 300 million doses of a vaccine distributed in a manner of a few months?
How do you measure success in your warehouse? Every business has their own “dashboard” of KPIs (at least we ASSUME they do by now). Your KPIs could be as granular – and basic - as “Picks Per Hour”, “Receiving Wait Time”, “Packages Shipped” or “Fulfillment Rate”. Or they could be at a more macro level to measure “Inventory Turnover”, “Average Order Value” (or “Average Items per Order”) and “Forecast Accuracy” (along with basic tracking forecast elements).
The extreme climate event that kept Texas in the news for over a week put the spotlight on a lot of challenges that are growing due to climate change and extreme weather events. Putting aside the issue of Texas’ 80-year process of distancing their energy economy from the rest of the country, the tragic lack of preparation that appears to almost be intentional not only crippled the entire state, resulted in unnecessary deaths that were entirely preventable.
This year Zebra Technologies is introducing a new concept to drive decision-making in your planning and investment strategies for new devices and equipment in distribution centers and other warehouses. Referred to as the “Warehouse Maturity Model”, it provides a structured roadmap for modernization for your facilities.
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.
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.