Productivity Countdown

Industrial engineers commonly assume a maximum productivity rate of two-thirds in the absence of measurable labor standards. As an initial segment of its major new study on warehouse productivity measurement, in October 2002 the Warehousing Education and Research Council surveyed its members about their current practices related to measuring warehouse work. The total number of responses was 137, with retailers representing 13% of the total, 3PL companies 12%, and the remaining 7% classified as “other.”

On average, respondents reported tracking eight measurements on a daily basis, among them shipping, picking, receiving, quality, putaway, and replenishment. Picking policy was the most frequent target of improvement programs among respondents, followed by productivity (tracking), and bar code/scanning systems. Conveyors, warehouse management systems, labor costs, engineered standards, and inventory accuracy programs all tied for fourth place.

Eighty-nine percent of the respondents indicated willingness to participate in benchmarking for quality improvement. For more information, visit