Blog | TotalTrax Inc.            

Warehouse productivity: Solutions that will yield results

Posted by Phil Van Wormer on Aug 7, 2014 6:00:00 AM

Reach_truckTake a look at the image to the right. In a nutshell, it shows the battle that many of you face in your warehouse or manufacturing operations. The small percentage of green (8-20 percent) signifies when the reach trucks of this particular company are actually doing what’s good for the bottom line - being active with load. The rest are essentially productivity killers.

If you recognize your warehouse in any of these questions, it may be time to consider a solution to remove the barriers to increased productivity:

  • Are your drivers spending too much time manually entering data?
  • Do vehicle repairs as a result of forklift accidents cost you a fortune?
  • Is lost work time due to forklift impacts adding up?
  • Are you frustrated by the number of misplaced pallets?
  • Do you feel like there is a scanned data gap between transactions during which you have no idea what your drivers are doing?

As the old adage goes, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. The lack of real-time visibility of truck movement, driver activity, and fleet utilization is the bane of many struggling warehouse operations. By removing the blind spots in your warehouse or distribution center, you create opportunities for productivity growth.

The TotalTrax Productivity Solutions, for example, take the guesswork out of your operations and enable you to tackle problems on the warehouse floor in real time, but how do you apply the wealth of data that this type of technology provides?

Let’s look at how the company mentioned above, a large dairy producer and customer of TotalTrax channel partner Harland Simon, resolved an inventory challenge by installing an indoor tracking system or optical RTLS.

The company wanted to improve the performance of its warehouse pickers in addition to the accuracy of the pick face replenishment.  Harland Simon knew the solution could be found in real-time visibility.

InterfaceA user-friendly interface (see left) was built to seamlessly interact with data coming off the forklift trucks. The new vehicle-mounted terminals automatically read the pallet ID, which subsequently is assigned a put-away location by the WMS.

If the driver still puts the pallet in the wrong location, the screen will flash red and the error can be corrected immediately (either way, the WMS knows the location of the pallet). A green validation means the task has been completed.

The result: 100 percent inventory accuracy.

The system also allows supervisors to pull up a real-time image of the warehouse floor, whether they are at home or traveling (provided specific software has been installed on the computer), to track the movements of each vehicle, driver, pallet, or entire shift of trucks.

The company was able to use the newfound insights to improve slotting opportunities, eliminate hand scanning and reduce the number of reach trucks from three to two, allowing drivers to be deployed elsewhere in the operation.  Labor productivity also improved since there was no longer a need for anyone to do time-consuming rework or inventory reconciliation.

Six months after the overhaul, the number of pallet moves executed by each reach truck had increased by 86 percent.

As the example illustrates, real-time visibility offers the key to solving a host of problems in your warehouse or distribution center.

Topics: real-time visibility, inventory accuracy, forklift accidents, warehouse productivity