NCOF Sneak Peak: Cutting Down on Warehouse Walk Time

Mar 08, 2006 8:43 PM  By

It’s no secret that additional walk time can tire your pickers and erode warehouse productivity. But more to the point, added footsteps cost you money, says Sam Flanders, president of Durham, NH-based Warehouse Management Consultants. In fact, he’ll be leading a session entitled “How to Cut Costs in Your DC Before You Spend a Fortune” at this year’s National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment (NCOF), April 10-12 in Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, FL.

In catalog operations, a large percentage of the SKUs are one-line items on the pick ticket. Flanders says by doing a little work up front–and getting a little help from the IT department–you could be saving your workers travel time between orders, which would boost productivity. Instead of taking a few pick tickets, grab a stack of, say, 40 tickets that have one line item. “Think of it as if you your pickers are shopping and putting into a large grocery cart.”

If you could get your IT department to print the pick tickets in a logical sequence, your workers would be taking less steps between orders. “You may be walking 500 foot steps in total but you’re taking an average of 20 footsteps per order,” Flanders says. This strategy helps reduce the number of steps workers take between pick transactions. Plus, he notes, “the only thing you’ve done is a little programming on the host system instead of spending money on investment.”

Flanders will also share sometimes overlooked secrets, such as pick at lightening speed with very little replenishment. Suppose you have a top seller or a promotional item that customers people are likely to order one or two of. Instead of going back and forth to retrieve the product, Flanders suggests placing the pallet right off the packing station. and picking right off the pallet. Bottom line, he says: “Walking is the enemy of productivity. Footsteps costs money.”

“The only conference for direct-to-consumer operations and fulfillment management,” NCOF is presented by MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT/O+F and the DMA. For information and to register, visit