Fleet Management & Forklift Safety Blog

4 Features of a Top-Producing Distribution Center or Warehouse

Posted by Neil O'Connell, SVP Technology, Innovation, & Product Development on Dec 29, 2016 4:00:00 AM

Doing things the right way can have a big impact on efficiency. So what do the top-producing distribution centers (DC) and warehouses do to achieve optimum productivity? They have four features — or, best practices — in common, from which businesses looking to improve operations can learn. isolate-1209275_640.jpg

Within the walls of each best-in-class facility are 4 key attributes:

  1. The right people
  2. Processes designed to get the job done accurately and on schedule
  3. Technology and tools, like an advanced telematics platform, to help achieve optimum safety and productivity
  4. Facility managers that can leverage the three previous attributes to work proactively, versus reactively.

Let's take an in-depth look at each of these features.

Common attributes of top-producing DCs and warehouses

1. Operators and personnel

From drivers to warehouse personnel, proper staffing and training matter. Managers should know their staff’s skills, strengths, and challenges to match them to their best-suited job assignment. They should also have the proper tools to manage effectively — for example, technology to monitor driver behavior and identify training needs.

2. Best processes

Every facility needs a plan and protocol to follow. Safety practices, a schedule for regular fleet maintenance, and the process of tracking and recording inventory should be standardized and clearly communicated. Also, managers should preplan shipping or receiving, staffing needs, and fleet utilization each day. Tools like advanced shipping notification (ASN) not only provide shipping notification for recipients, it allows managers to plan operations accordingly — like right-sizing the fleet and optimizing routing within the facility.

3. Technology, like a telematics platform

To become smarter, better, and faster, you need access to a wide range of data from your operations — insight as to what is happening on a granular level. With the right telematics platform, real-time data and detailed analysis can help target where and how your business can realize greater efficiency. Telematics offers:

  • Vehicle tracking, which delivers key insights regarding the exact location of your fleet and drivers. It helps identify needs — like improved driver training, labor reallocation, slotting optimization, and safer routing. Real-time tracking determines the best route for product movement.
  • A proactive approach to fleet maintenance, notifying you before an issue occurs. Telematics eliminates lags in maintenance that increase downtime, one of the biggest killers of productivity.
  • Customizable safety checklists that must be performed before forklifts will operate.
  • Advanced inventory tracking, which eliminates time wasted searching for lost or misplaced pallets. Telematics tracks the location of vehicles and pallets, essentially linking forklift movement with data on the pallets.

4. Proactive managers

Many managers rely on a warehouse management system (WMS), but there are many exceptions and miscellaneous tasks it can miss that impact productivity.

  • Managers must be willing to deploy the latest advanced telematics technology to gain insights that improve efficiency, safety and productivity.
  • A facility must balance speed and accuracy. Managers should be able to pinpoint the exact location of product, and all the steps in order fulfillment should be documented.

With the right people, processes and technology, warehouse managers can leverage all assets to increase productivity.

Topics: warehouse technology, labor management, fleet telematics, distribution center

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