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Checklist for Distribution Center Improvement

Norman Saenz a principal at Transystems advises DC and warehouse management to watch out for six red flags, which can signal trouble.

(Boonton, NJ, May 16, 2013) — You may be so accustomed to your DC that you don’t see its flaws. But chances are there are places where your equipment and design don’t lend themselves to efficiency.

Based on his years of experience working with DCs in many industries, Norm Saenz, principal at Transystems says that there are common warning signs that trouble is brewing.

In the May issue of Distribution Center Management, Saenz suggests that readers challenge themselves to look for the signs of trouble. This includes asking:

  • Are you replenishing your forward pick racks too frequently? Aim to fill these areas with one to two weeks of cubic velocity (quantity picked times product size). You don’t want to replenish every day, or even every few days.
  • Is product staged in aisles? This is a sign that your dock is too small. Sometimes in peak season, you might need to stage product in aisles. But if it happens all the time, you’re running out of space.
  • Are you piece-picking from full pallet positions? This is clearly the wrong method. You want to pull full pallets, not pieces, out of these positions.
  • Are their traffic jams in your aisles? Operator congestion in aisleways suggests it’s time to look at your slotting.
  • Are pickers bending a lot as they pick? This is another sign that slotting is an issue. You want to slot fast-moving products in ergonomically efficient areas.
  • Are you still using paper picking? This method is less productive than RF, voice, and pick-to-light.

The May issue of Distribution Center Management includes another dozen red flags, which signal opportunities for improvement.


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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.

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