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Focus on Simple, Quick Fixes in the DC

Lean times have created a relentless focus on getting product out the door. Often to the exclusion of all else. But making the time to implement quick fixes can increase productivity and accuracy by 4 or 5 percent a year.

(Boonton, NJ, December 27, 2012) — As the industry looks ahead to the New Year, Jeff Ostrowski, editor of Distribution Center Management asked a group of leading industry consultants about the top challenges — and solutions — that they see coming.

For Susan Rider of Rider & Associates, a major challenge is finding time for continuous improvement.

"DCs focus on what they need to get done for that day, and there is not a separate team analyzing how to improve each aspect of the facility," Rider says. "Over the last few years, DCs have become very lean, and there are barely enough people to get the work done — so adding improvement projects is just out of the question."

Rider says that the solution is to make time for quick fixes. Walk times and touch times are obvious places to start. Processes that once made sense can grow less efficient over time. If the number of times workers touch a product has increased, or if wait times have lengthened, you're wasting money.

"Simple, quick fixes can usually increase productivity or accuracy by 1 percent or 2 percent," Rider says. "If you can find four or five of those across the facility, you can add big dollars to the bottom line over a period of a year."

Additional challenges and solutions appear in the January issue of Distribution Center Management newsletter.

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