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Mike Bell, Executive VP of Operations
Duncan Industrial Solutions
Oklahoma City, OK

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EricCluttered Warehouses - Spring Cleaning in the Fall

"Stick it over here, there's always tomorrow.  In fact, I won't even be here to worry about it." 

Think these thoughts never cross the mind of your warehouse workers?

What does housekeeping say about how well a warehouse operation is run?  What does your customer think about their shipment, if they mistake your warehouse for a sanitary landfill?  In the eye of your customer, a cluttered environment will surely contaminate their order.

What value is created by clutter?  Hard to say unless you need a hiding place for rats!  So clutter probably puts stress on getting shipments out, yes? 

Getting Your house Shipshape

Do your warehouse workers have good examples to follow?  Are they encouraged to pick up stray dunnage, strapping material, or orphaned pallets lying around?  Or do they leave this stuff for the "maid?"

Old habits can protect transaction complexity as well.   It's difficult to streamline warehouse work when employees default to the status quo "zone" and do what they've always done.

Is all your racking and floor space used for SKUs you're selling?  Or is it cluttered with personal items as well?  What about empty boxes, bags or temporary containers still on the shelf? 

Clutter adds friction to picking efficiencies too.  If, for example, Jane, the picker (not "Joe the Plumber") has to get off her forklift to clear an aisle - for a pallet of Gatorade, while it's great exercise, it adds unnecessary lag time in expediting the sales order.

The wrong material handling equipment or mismanagement of it can add significantly to clutter.  For example, a picker may be yawning and scratching while waiting for the carousel pick face to come around, only to discover that the bin is empty.

With clutter, it's hard to find that "lost" inventory - which invariably raises its head with a customer stockout situation.  Or an item can be reaching the end of its shelf-life and quietly expire because it couldn't participate in the rotation scheme you've intended.

If you receive a container and the stuff sits there for weeks before being putaway, then you've blocked the ability to quickly receive shipments.  When you're staging orders for outbound trucks, how long is the pile there before it ships?  Again you can be tripping over yourself.    Is a pick and hold concept really necessary?   Or could it really turn out that you pick, and hold, and hold, and hold then your "best" customer's credit reaches junk status, the whistle blows and the order is promptly cancelled and your pile needs to be putaway?

When in Doubt Throw it Out

Dead stock.   First-in-still-here, right?  Question is, how dead is dead?  If you keep it around long enough it petrifies.  Like leftovers in the refrigerator; pretty soon you can't identify whether it's last years fruit basket or your dog's breakfast.

If you're gearing up for year end inventory why not take the opportunity to write off, or mark down your questionable inventory or sell it through an alternate channel.

Don't wait for Spring to get your "house" in order.  It will improve your working environment, improve morale, and prep you for the next wave of business!

Thanks for your support,

Eric Signature

Eric Allais
President & CEO