What is a Worker-Centric Warehouse?
Warehouse and distribution center management can make the the warehouse a more fulfilling and enjoyable place to work by focusing on the human needs of their associates.
(Boonton, NJ, January 21, 2010) Would you want your child to work in a distribution center? That's a question Kevin Gue, an associate professor in the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering at Auburn University, heard at a conference in the summer of 2007.
"You could hear crickets chirping," Gue says in the January issue of industry newsletter Distribution Center Management. "And that led to the question: If you were going to design a warehouse that your children had to work in, what would it look like?"
The problem with many of today's distribution centers is that making it a fulfilling and enjoyable place to work isn't a design consideration.
In the article, Gue discusses the challenges and benefits to creating a worker-centric warehouse. The article also offers three quick-hit steps management can take to improve the work environment. These are:
- Change your lighting. Good lighting can allow employees to do their jobs more effectively and reduce eye strain. Try switching old high-pressure sodium lighting with linear fluorescents or metal halide energy-efficient lighting. As an added bonus, you'll also save a bundle on energy costs.
- Give workers a break. Studies have shown that just a 10-minute break can help employees focus and be more productive. Be sure to schedule breaks and downtime to keep worker morale up.
- Improve ergonomics. Musculoskeletal disorders can result in protracted pain, disability, medical treatment, and financial stress. Try eliminating lifting from the floor, using lift-assist devices like scissor lift tables or load levelers, or have workers alternate lifting tasks with non-lifting tasks.
About the Distribution Group
For more than 40 years, Distribution Group publications have helped distribution center and warehouse managers increase productivity, cut costs, and meet increasing customer demands. Distribution Group publishes Distribution Center Management newsletter, books and reports, and a free e-newsletter.