Improving Ergonomics in the Warehouse

November 28, 2017

gravity roller conveyor

With the rising costs of workers’ compensation insurance and global pressures to increase productivity, warehouse and distribution center managers are taking a much closer look at improving ergonomics. With as many as 65% of worker’s compensation claims associated with manual materials handling, insurance companies are raising their rates—or mandating ergonomic improvements for continued coverage.

Equipment suppliers are responding to the need, engineering and designing features into their products to help workers minimize the strains associated with lifting, reaching, twisting, pulling and pushing. These new product features can also help address the demand for increased productivity as well.

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10 Ways to Set up Warehouse Workers for Success

November 29, 2016

warehouse worker picking from a storage rack

Companies spend lots of time trying to understand the best ways to increase efficiency in their operations. How do I increase pick rates? Why do we spend more time on things that add no value than we should? Why do we make so many mistakes, and how do I stop it? Why is there so much waste in the system? How can this be better organized?

These are all good questions, and the answer to solving these problems usually lies in developing people to work their best.

In this day and age of increasing industrial productivity, tough global competition, and tight labor, integrating personnel development with best practices facility design, automation, processes and management is key to reducing labor costs, increasing margins, and becoming a more profitable operation. People thrive in good environments where they are set up to succeed. What can you do to build the right situation for your people?

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Hiring and Developing Outstanding Order Pickers

October 12, 2016

order picker working on flow rack system

Order fulfillment operations come in all sizes, shapes and types, including a basket of challenges that diversity creates. One of the most difficult challenges in this industry is developing order picking talent. It’s competitive these days, as you know, for distribution facilities and e-commerce fulfillment centers. One of the best ways to enhance those operations is to develop your labor force more fully. What can you do?

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10 Ways to Keep Orders Moving During Your Busiest Season

December 23, 2014

I received a newsletter the other day that really hit home during this busy Christmas season. It was about keeping warehouse order pickers motivated in their work and I thought, “That’s really key during peak seasons when highly stressed workers can get burned out quickly.” So, how do you keep order pickers moving when they’re already under the gun?

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Order Picking: Optimizing and Storing Slow Movers

June 18, 2014

Order picking slow movers in a shelving row

The focus when it comes to order picking is usually (and justifiably) on the fastest-moving product. You slot your warehouse for fast movers. You pareto-focus on the 20% of the product that generates 80% of the business, as you should. But it’s also useful to consider the slow-moving inventory and pick locations. Simply putting the slowest movers in the least accessible area may make them consume more order picking time and storage space than necessary.

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Innovations in High Density Storage

June 13, 2014

SpeedCell Dynamic High Density Storage

Ever find yourself wondering how you can get more out of your pallet rack? Do you have goods that take up very little space, but your pick operations don’t call for entire pallets full of the product? Then you might need to look at ways to achieve more density in your storage, and we’ve recently found a gem of a product that can help you out. It’s called Dynamic High Density Storage and it’s made by SpeedCell.

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Excess Walking Makes “Zombies” of Order Pickers

July 10, 2013

zombie order picker

Studies indicate that order pickers spend too much time walking. Distribution center employees routinely spend more than  half their day walking, not picking orders, packing orders, or replenishing stock. They’re going from point to point, burning man hours getting where they need to be, not working. And that’s the average — for really poorly designed operations, it’s worse.

As they tire, workers pick slower, pick less accurately, and work more dangerously — almost a zombie like situation! Every bad thing that can happen in a warehouse operation is amplified, the more time employees spend walking.

Check out our most recent Info-graphic, “Walking is the Walking Death of Order Picking Productivity”  for more information on ways you can combat this issue.

More information:

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Hand Carts vs. Pallets for Retail Distribution

September 19, 2011

Pallet and order picking carts for retail distribution

Retail distribution facilities have multiple options for shipping product to store locations. They can send full pallets which must be unwrapped, unloaded, and stocked at the store location. They can send packed carts that can easily be rolled onto store floors and stocked at the point of sale. What method works best?

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Mixed-Load Robotic Palletizing Application Video

May 10, 2011

In this video, a Fanuc robot is executing mixed-load palletizing of beer cases at a distribution center.

In this operation, differently-sized beer cases are conveyed to the robot to fulfill a specific order. Since the cases vary by width, length, and height, their dimensional information is sent to the robot by the WMS (warehouse management system). The robot utilizes mixed-load palletizing software to determine the best pattern to build a pallet with the available products, achieving high density and stack stability with rapid speed.

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How to Improve Order Picking without Automation

November 20, 2009

picking from flow racks
Cliff Holste at Supply Chain Digest (opens in a new window) has a good piece on ways to improve picking productivity.

Distribution centers will benefit from emerging automated case picking technologies, but those don’t fit for every operation, at every level. They’re also expensive upgrades, so your ROI has to be considered as well.

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