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How to Make Packing More Efficient

April 6, 2021

Automated packing area for an ecommerce distribution center, pick-to-totes operation.

Above: in this automated e-commerce distribution center, picks are packed into cartons from totes on the conveyor line. Because conveyors deliver the totes directly to workers, and the work is executed at ergonomic heights, the process is fast and efficient.

Order fulfillment is only as fast as its slowest function, and packing–often the last stop before shipping–can be a bottleneck. We’ve analyzed many operations that underestimated the needs of the packing department from the start, while others realized over time that new requirements, new SKUs and order volumes that were fine at go-live eventually bogged the packing function. It’s not unusual for picking processes to react faster and better to these conditions than the packing area.

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Putaway is Critical for Distribution Success

December 1, 2020

Putaway aisle in a distribution center, with flow storage and bulk storage accessibility.

Above: workers in a distribution center putaway aisle with flow and bulk storage accessibility. Picking aisles are left clear as the system is replenished. Photo credit: Unex Manufacturing.

Putaway, which is the methods and processes that occur between receiving inventory and that inventory resting in storage positions in a warehouse, may have more impact on the performance of order fulfillment or warehousing operation than most anything else.

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Warehouse Management Headaches and How to Relieve Them

August 23, 2018

warehouse manager in a rack aisle
If you run a warehouse or distribution facility today, it’s likely that you are busy — really busy — and scrambling for time. E-commerce has changed the game, as customers demand more, faster, better. Managing a warehouse has always been a battle for time and the pressure never seems to subside. When we talk to warehouse managers and operators, here are some of the issues they face on a daily basis.

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E-Commerce and the 3PL – The Benefits of Teaming Up

March 13, 2018

3PL Warehouse

E-commerce is the driving force for warehouse and shipping industries, so a focus on efficiency of distribution is paramount to gain competitive advantage. Demand is an ever-growing constant, and the movement to appease that demand can produce a strain on an entity wanting to thrive within the E-Commerce world. Multiple factors can either make or break those that want to dive into these waters, but what is an inexperienced company to do? Enter the 3PL, and what it can bring to E-Commerce.

Third-party logistics service providers (3PLs) design their distribution facilities to be flexible and scalable to serve a wide range of clients—capabilities that align well with the needs of growing
E-Commerce ventures. But the advantages don’t stop there. Here’s a look at some of the potential benefits of teaming up with an experienced 3PL:

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OSHA Requirements for Better Loading Dock Fall Protection

January 23, 2018

dock doors with snow on the ground outside

In warehouses, about 25% of injuries come at or near the loading dock area.

This is usually because it’s such a focal point of any distribution operation—it’s where everything is accepted and put away and where everything eventually processes out. This means that at times the dock will buzz with forklifts, workers on foot and other bursts of activity. It has a natural fall hazard in the edge of the dock. It’s got exposure to elements, meaning that it may have moisture, oils and other trip/slip hazards. When it comes to preventing falls, what are OSHA’s requirements? And what should you do above and beyond them?

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To Move Your 3PL Forward, Harness the Power of Data

January 11, 2018

warehouse manager in a pallet rack aisle

3PLs frequently serve as the central communication conduit between shippers, carriers, regulatory agencies and other supply chain participants as cargo moves in-bond and from port-to-port. As a result of this pivotal role in the marketplace, they are uniquely positioned to view scenarios that address the best methods to move goods as well as data. Innovative 3PLs are demonstrating that moving information better—re-purposing data, improving accessibility, enhancing visibility and supporting the latest data standards—helps move freight better.

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How to Prepare Your Warehouse for a Client Tour

December 13, 2017

warehouse ready for tour

When a prospective client wants to visit your 3PL facility, it’s critical; you could be on the verge of new business.

You want to show them why they should select you as their 3PL of choice; that you’re the best choice; that you can be trusted to help them serve their clients. It’s no easy task running a successful warehouse or third party logistics company – it’s a multi-faceted organization with its own specific attributes and specialties.

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The Best 3PLs are Invisible to Customers

October 6, 2017

warehouse manager making notes

Logistics pros are a lot like the offensive line on a football team: at their best, you know they are doing a great job, but their numbers never get called by television announcers. When they do talk line, it’s usually because someone committed a penalty or allowed a blitzing safety in for a sack. When the quarterback isn’t pressured and there are great running lanes, the line rarely gets mentioned. It’s kind of the same for 3PLs.

The goal of your 3PL should be to avoid those issues and remain unseen and unremarked on by end users.

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Peak Season Preparation for 3PLs

August 24, 2017

3PL order fulfillment

Winter is always coming.

While you might not be battling an army of zombie warriors, the seasonal surge in orders and fulfillment poised to engulf your 3PL warehouse can feel like a never-ending battle. Preparing for this fulfillment onslaught should be the goal for any efficient 3PL, so you can be ready for the inevitable increase in all facets of your business. By efficiently handling the high volumes of orders that flow through your warehouse during peak season, you’ll enjoy the spoils of higher production, correct shipments and overall customer/client satisfaction.

To enhance the preparation, you need to analyze each segment of your process and pick those that seem to be the biggest torment.

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3PL Reverse Logistics: Going Reverse to Move Ahead

July 20, 2017

Make Reverse Logistics a priority

E-commerce customers are increasingly comfortable with a buying experience that includes easy, free and frequent returns. Returns—and the issues involved with them—are nothing new for retail and e-commerce distribution, but the “new normal” of frequent returns offers 3PLs that can leverage their reverse logistics capacity a significant competitive advantage over competitors who can’t adapt to the new reality.

While some companies consider reverse logistics a necessary evil, those with well-managed returns programs can increase overall efficiency and profitability  while satisfying customers and increasing loyalty. They find ways to resell more returned products, and are able to dispose of or restock what they can’t resell more efficiently and with less environmental impact.

What are some ways to increase your returns capacity?

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