Everything interesting, new and useful about the logistics and 3PL Industry

Archive for May, 2014

100 Recommended References for Logistics IT

Since information technology is so integral to the success of the entire logistics industry, it is important to have a strong grasp on the fundamentals, and the available logistics IT services. Logistics IT providers, industry magazines, and general logistics news sources are all included on this list to provide as complete a picture as possible of the quickly evolving logistics IT space. These sites are not being ranked or rated comparatively, they are only being recommended as useful references for newcomers and veterans in logistics IT. This collection of 100 websites is intended to give readers, a primer on some of the best and most reliable logistics IT information available online: 100 Recommended References for Logistics IT.

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Ways to Organize and Optimize Warehouse Space

Optimizing Warehouse Space

Proper use of warehouse space can expedite shipping, increase safety and alleviate headaches. Organizing and optimizing space can also save companies up to 15 percent, according to Logistics Management, so it’s easy to see why it is important to make warehouse logistics a priority.

Increasing Shipping Speeds and Product Quality

Good optimization and organization can increase a business’ shipping speeds while insuring that the product quality is ideal.

The key to increasing shipping speeds is making sure that the most frequently purchased products are in the most convenient locations in the warehouse. The most popular products often change by season, so it is important to keep track of sales data. Before making storage plans, logistics managers should examine at least one year’s worth of sales figures. This will give a better overall idea of how products flow from the warehouse at certain times of the year.

Warehouses with diversified inventories can best manage a wide array of goods by using software that keeps track of SKUs, inventory, sales, projections and other important numbers. Many warehouse vendors provide this software as part of their storage package, and it is a popular choice for managing products.

As items are shipped to and from the warehouse, the product is scanned and the information is uploaded to the software, which is then accessible from an online dashboard. Implementing this software will help to optimize the placement of product throughout the warehouse.

Also, products that are best sellers should be left on pallets and not racked. This allows employees to quickly access the product and reduces wasted time racking items. This is especially true if the items are often purchased by the pallet or if the items are a part of cross-dock operations.

If products must be stored, consider using drive-in storage racks. Using this system can increase a warehouse’s storage density by up to 75 percent, according to Material Handling Industry.

Here are a few more tips for increasing speed of shipping and reducing space constraints:

  • Products with a limited shelf life should be put on a rotating system using shelving designed for quick and easy access.
  • Newer products should be shelved behind older products so that older products are easily accessed and shipped first.
  • Increase the productive use of floor space by up to 60 percent by using double-deep pallet racks.

Safety

Choosing the best shelving for product storage is an important part of increasing warehouse safety. When purchasing shelving and storage, there are a few things to consider.

First, how much will need to be stored? Take into account the size, height and weight of pallet loads. All shelving or storage solutions should more than compensate for product load to decrease the chances of items falling.

Second, the storage solution should allow for optimum product accessibility. For example, if products will be pulled using a counterbalanced lift truck, the storage area should be roomy enough for the operator to navigate the arms of the lift. If the lift arms rub against the sides of the shelving, the shelves could tilt or be damaged and eventually tip over.

Third, business owners need to consider how their equipment will complement the storage system. For example, if the warehouse has counterbalanced lift trucks (the most common warehouse vehicle) for product transport, the shelving cannot be taller than the truck’s 188-inch lift height.

By paying attention to how products are stored, a company can make large strides in customer satisfaction and ROI. Technology, types of storage systems and placement can all be used by businesses to achieve a much better warehouse system for their individual needs.

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Forklift Operation Safety Tips

Forklift SafetyAccording to Safety.BLR.com, every year, thousands of workers are seriously injured in forklift accidents, and about 100 workers die as a result of these accidents. Since forklifts may travel as fast as 10mph and weigh over 3 tons, they can become a great danger if not operated safely. Companies must implement the following forklift operation safety tips to prevent accidents, injuries and fatalities.

General Forklift Precautions and Tips

Certain general forklift precautions and tips must be followed to ensure safe operation. Before every shift, examine the forklift to ensure no repairs are needed. If the forklift requires repairs or maintenance, do not operate it. At work sites or in a warehouse, follow designated roadways. ComplianceandSafety.com also notes that operating forklifts should never be left unattended. This is not only a safety hazard, but leaving keys in an unattended forklift is also illegal. Other general forklift precautions include refueling forklifts in well-ventilated areas, applying the parking brake when parking a forklift and understanding and sticking to the forklift’s lifting capacity.

Safety Tips for Forklift Operation

To operate a forklift safely, operators are required to go through a forklift safety training and certification course. According to OSHA, forklift training should include formal instruction, practical training and an evaluation of the trainee’s performance. Topics that should be covered in an OSHA approved training program include:

–          Operating instructions and precautions

–          Instrumentation and controls

–          Maneuvering and steering

–          Vehicle capacity and stability

–          Motor or engine operation

–          Maintenance and routine inspections

–          Operating limitations

–          Charging/recharging batteries and refueling

When operating a forklift, be attentive and alert, observing the surrounding environment. Avoid hazards, use a voice or horn to alert others in the area, avoid loading or unloading on ramps and be aware of changes to the operating environment.

Wear the seatbelt at all times. Many forklift accidents involve the forklift tipping over, and wearing the seatbelt helps to prevent crushing or being thrown off. Ensuring that the body is fully inside the frame is important, as is wearing the appropriate clothing, which includes a hard hat, hi-visibility jacket, tight clothing that will not be caught in the controls or gears, and sturdy footwear.

Tips for Carrying Loads Safely

Failing to carry loads safely with a forklift may result in an accident. Pay attention to load logistics, placing loads near the mast instead of near the front. Never load a forklift beyond the load capacity. When carrying a load, avoid instability problems by carrying them as low as possible. Strapping loads, or ensuring they are stable, helps avoid stability problems as well. For loads that obstruct the view of the operator, the forklift should be operated in reverse to improve visibility.

Essential Guidelines to Keep Others in the Area Safe

Unfortunately, forklifts may become a safety hazard to others in the area if operators fail to pay attention to their surroundings. Carefully look for other people when operating a forklift and avoid making fast moves, which could unseat the load and make it crash down on someone. Before backing up, check carefully to ensure that no one is behind you. Never allow anyone to walk under the forks or stand on the forks.

Forklifts perform an essential job at warehouses and construction sites, but they can be a hazard if not operated correctly. Workplace conditions, depending on the type of workplace, may make using a forklift even more dangerous. While proper training and following forklift requirements ensures that your company fulfills the legal requirements for forklift operation, following forklift operation safety tips also helps prevent workplace injuries and product damage.

Sources:

December 2009,  “Forklift Safety Tips”  http://safety.blr.com/workplace-safety-news/equipment-and-process-safety/forklift-safety/Forklift-Safety-Tips/

“Forklift Safety Tips: A Comprehensive Resource”  http://www.complianceandsafety.com/safety-tips/forklift-safety-tips.php

“Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Powered Industrial Trucks” https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9828#1910.178%28l%29

December 2009,  “Forklift Safety Tips”  http://safety.blr.com/workplace-safety-news/equipment-and-process-safety/forklift-safety/Forklift-Safety-Tips/

“Top Forklift Operator Safety Tips”  https://www.forkliftacademy.com/top-forklift-operator-safety-tips/

“ Safety and Healthy Topics: Powered Industrial Trucks – Forklifts”  https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/poweredindustrialtrucks/index.html

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Intricacies of Providing Warehouse Fulfillment Services

Having a consistent, well-structured fulfillment system in place is crucial to grow and increase profits for your organization.  The fulfillment process is lengthy, resulting in many areas where errors can occur.  Having a well thought-out and organized system that allows every employee to follow the same procedures each and every time will result in lower operating costs, especially when it comes to training employees in an industry that has a high employee turnover rate.  Let’s have a look at some areas where best practices can be put into place.

Fulfillment Services

Fulfillment Metrics

If you can’t measure it, then it can’t be improved on.  Since labor is one of the most expensive factors in operations, it’s important to set up Key Performance Indicators to measure labor hours to orders fulfilled.  Compare your measurements to your industry’s ‘Best In Class’ so you know where to improve.  Some common KPIs are ‘Cost Per Order’, ‘Order Accuracy’, ‘Inventory Accuracy’ and ‘Shipping Accuracy’.  KPIs are one of the best ways to monitor and improve on workflow.

Staff Retention and Training

Since labor is one of the most expensive operating costs, it’s imperative to have a great culture that reduces the employee turnover rate.  Create a formal training program, recognize and reward employees who go above and beyond their expected duties or who recommend cost saving ideas.  Provide feedback on a regular basis and incorporate raises and bonuses on a consistent basis.

Managers are an important asset in the fulfillment process.  Establish regular meetings to communicate changes that need to be relayed to employees, and set up a program that allows managers and employees to design a career path for themselves.  Let all employees be made aware of possible career opportunities and training courses that they could apply to.

Warehouse Capacity

It can be well worth the money to have an expert do an assessment of your warehouse to find ways to improve and increase the capacity of your facility.  In the long run, this can be much cheaper than moving to another warehouse and disrupting customer service.  A warehouse automation system is a must to compete in today’s marketplace and having one will help to increase capacity, fulfill orders in a timely and accurate manner and reduce costs per order.

RFID Technology     

Keeping track of and organizing inventory is a key component of any fulfillment process.  If you haven’t already implemented RFID in your inventory tracking, you soon will.  This is fast becoming an industry norm for the following reasons:

  • Inventory is continually monitored, resulting in less inventory shrinkage due to theft and misplacement.
  • Sorting and picking for orders are improved since RFID rags are read via radio frequencies so it is important how products are placed.  This can result in more effective utilization of warehouse space.
  • Products are monitored through the entire supply chain.  This reduces the time required to count products while loading and unloading, and lead time is reduced for arrival of an order.
  • Interruptions in supply can be more easily identified.  RFID technology is a necessity to reduce inventory costs for perishable items.
  • As soon as inventory levels reach a low level, an automatic order can be sent out.
  • Sales information is collected in real time and can be very useful to make intelligent business decisions to improve the profitability of your organization.

Conclusion

Create a performance evaluation to review your fulfillment process every six months.  Encourage employees to contribute to this evaluation and suggest improvements.  Consistently monitor your KPIs and incorporate ‘red flags’ into the KPI reporting so issues can be addressed quickly.  Being able to identify costly mistakes immediately will go a long way towards increasing business and profitability.

Sources:

http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/3999-How-to-Monitor-Prevent-Fulfillment-Errors

http://blog.softwareadvice.com/articles/retail/master-in-store-fulfillment-think-like-a-warehouse-1061312/

http://www.fcbco.com/articles-and-whitepapers/articles/bid/129442/Trends-Best-Practices-and-Metrics-in-Fulfillment

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