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Avoid common distribution center mistakes

Old-fashioned thinking with new technology a common mistake in DCs.

(Boonton, NJ, August 1, 2013) — Robots and sophisticated software are taking hold at some highly efficient warehouses. But many other distribution centers remain behind the times.

Too many facilities, says consultant Howard Coleman of MCA Associates, haven’t “budged an inch or have been slow to adopt new ways of thinking in terms of how they have organized their distribution facilities.”

Coleman and Motorola Solutions prepared a list of the top 10 bad moves made by slow-to-change managers:

DC mistake: Don’t bother with conveyors.

Would you really prefer that your pickers devote up to 70 percent of their shift to walking? The answer should be no, but many DCs ignore the obvious savings that go along with using gravity-fed or powered conveyors.

DC mistake: Use only 11- or 12-foot aisles.

Many warehouses insist on this design, despite the availability of narrow-aisle stockpickers. Instead, take advantage of efficient layouts and new technology. Doing so might help you save space -- and, perhaps, delay expanding or moving.

DC mistake: Make pickers juggle handheld devices and paper lists.

Don’t ignore the technology that can make life much easier for associates. Instead, consider hands-free, real-time technology to direct and confirm each pick. With hands-free devices, workers won’t have to struggle with un-holstering and re-holstering a scanner while trying to pick and carry product at the same time. Not only will this allow them to do their jobs faster, but they’ll also work more safely and with fewer mistakes

The complete list of Common DC Mistakes appears in the August issue of Distribution Center Management.


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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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