Plant & Warehouse Consulting
If your warehouse or plant is struggling with low productivity, poor quality, not getting orders out on time, or too much inventory, Supply Velocity’s manufacturing and warehouse consulting services can be a solution. Our manufacturing and warehouse consulting methods are grounded in Lean Six Sigma and Supply Chain Management with a focus on implementation in warehousing, production, e-commerce fulfillment, inventory management and executive management.
The first step we recommend for turning around performance is to conduct an Assessment. Over the years, we have honed a comprehensive Plant and Warehouse Operations audit checklist to help us identify problems, their root cause and ways to overcome these problems. All great warehousing and manufacturing facilities follow common supply chain and operations management best practices, and will excel in the following seven performance areas:
- Labor productivity
- Capacity utilization
- Customer Service
- Inventory turns
- Employee engagement
Our goal is to help our plant and warehouse consulting services clients improve in these performance areas while creating a culture of continuous improvement.
All successful operations carefully manage and improve their labor productivity (also known as plant or warehouse operations efficiency). This is accomplished by optimizing the plant / warehouse layout to minimize material handling. In addition, with the adoption of 5S Visual Management you will ensure employees are not wasting time looking around for information, materials or supplies. A common theme in manufacturing and warehousing is the advent of e-commerce. Facilities that previously moved pallets of material are finding themselves picking, packing and shipping e-commerce orders. This puts great pressure on labor productivity making a streamlined plant and warehouse layout, and visually organized workplace even more important.
High warehouse design and manufacturing capacity utilization is the key to achieving high return on assets and internal supply chain and operations excellence. Utilization is measured using operating equipment efficiency or OEE. The OEE calculation is based on the actual units successfully processed divided by the total product that can be produced in the facility, based on standard cycle time and a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 52 week a year schedule. Often when OEE is measured, managers find that they are using only a small percentage of their capacity. Utilization is improved through the use of Quickchangeover (supported by 5S visual management) and Total Productive Maintenance to minimize downtime on their assets (machines, trucks, forklifts, etcetera).
Safety is not only important legally and morally, it is an enabler of improving capacity utilization and labor productivity. Numerous studies of factories and warehouses have demonstrated that the safest way of doing work is actually the most productive. Great warehouse and plant operations work on improving behaviors and equipment to reduce the potential for injuries. This involves equipment operation, material handling and plant / warehouse layout. Like capacity utilization, 5S Visual Management supports safety by ensuring a well organized workplace. In recent years, as e-commerce becomes part of both plant and warehouse operations, companies, and even supply chains, that previously moved larger bulk product quantities such as pallet quantities, find themselves processing smaller package and consumer-orders from the same facility, creating additional safety issues that must be addressed before someone is hurt.
Providing great service to customers is always a top priority of supply chain and operations management. In warehousing this is measured by fill rate or service level (% of items shipped on time). At factories this is measured by on-time delivery. Customer Service is improved through inventory optimization and fast-turnaround manufacturing using kanban-flow methods. No supply chain can operate without placing customers and customer service high on their continuous improvement project list for long-term success.
Inventory is the second largest cost in every supply chain. Great operational companies carefully manage inventory, balancing the tradeoff of customer service (having inventory on-hand for customers) against cash flow required to store inventory. In addition, managing inventory, when e-commerce demand becomes part of your mix, means your inventory is the only buffer between your operation and the end-consumer. Optimal inventory levels should be based on forecasting and safety stock optimization. A streamlined warehouse layout can improve first-in-first-out inventory management and reducing shelf-life or warranty period waste.
Since the 1980s, when the Toyota Production System showed us that high quality can also mean low cost, companies have embraced the Quality Revolution. This is now the baseline requirement of all supply chains, including e-commerce, healthcare and retail operations. The most effective method of improving quality, or reducing mistakes and defects, is to reduce variation in your processes. Six Sigma is a set of graphical and statistical tools that help reduce variation and improve quality in processes. It can involve production process and warehouse design to promote operations practices that are mistake-proof.
A productive, high quality and high performing warehouse or factory will never be achieved if your people do not buy into your mission. The best way to get people excited is to involve them in your continuous improvement efforts. The Lean Method of rapid-improvement-events, or Kaizen, allows cross-functional teams of people who are close to the work make improvements in their work areas.
With over 20 years’ experience as Manufacturing and Warehouse Consultants our clients benefit from an Assessment by the identification of all Warehousing and Manufacturing improvement opportunities. The Assessment provides a road map for organizational improvements that our clients can use on their own, or often we are asked to assist and facilitate the development and implementation of the strategy.
We will compare the best practices checklist against your plant and warehouse operations procedures to identify how we can improve productivity, capacity, customer-service (on-time-delivery and fill rate), quality, employee engagement and inventory management. The findings are turned into detailed project scopes-of-work that may include plant or warehouse layout, cellular line design, quick changeover, inventory optimization, streamlining information flows, 5S visual management and performance scorecards.
While the outcome of the Assessment is a detailed report, the focus of our consulting services is implementation. We want to quickly close performance gaps in a sustainable way, involving your team and educating them on the use of Warehousing and Plant Operations improvement tools so they can continue making improvements in the future.
The Assessment is a 2 – 4 day on-site process following the outline below. After the on-site portion, we write up a detailed report and present our findings to management.
Plant and Warehouse Operations Assessment Outline
- Interviews with key personnel
- Supply Chain
- Inventory management
- Customer Service
- Analysis of financial and operational data
- Facility tours
- Determine specific improvement projects, implementation priority and timing
- Calculate return on investment from implementation
- Nominate team members