How can productivity in logistics be doubled?

Logistics, Manufacturing

Working in Logistics or Distribution is a never-ending effort to be as productive and cost-efficient as possible to keep up with the increasing demands of the market. In these challenging times, when the market is rapidly changing its behaviour and e-commerce is accelerating, Logistics and Distribution centres need to keep up with an even higher pace and demands. Since the pandemic hit us, more than one in three consumers state that they have started to or increased their online grocery shopping. (Source: Ericsson) Are there still elements in the logistics process that can be improved? Is doubled productivity in Logistics possible for you?

Market expectations

In the world of music, films and apps, the digital transformation has enabled consumers instant access to whatever content they want whenever they want. In the non-digital world, physical products still need to be shipped to their destination by trucks, trains, airplanes, or ships. However, since the digital “instant-access society” has become so successful, consumers now also expect instant access to physical deliveries. These expectations are also evident in the B2B sector; of the companies surveyed in a study, 88% say that their customers currently request same-day delivery. (Source: Ericsson)

The solutions enabling this evolution has been a combination of manufacturing where the production costs are optimal, just-in-time shipping, highly automated fulfilment centres and, to a growing extent, mobile connectivity.

Bottlenecks in the logistic process flow

Looking at this simplified process flow within a distribution centre we have identified 3 steps that can be improved, potentially reaching as high as doubled productivity, depending on the site’s individual challenges.Logistic industry workflow

  • Truck or container loading & unloading
  • Conveyor to pallet & palletizing
  • Order picking

Whether it is unloading, palletising or order picking, handling products is still a highly manual task, although automated solutions continue to emerge.

Efficient lifting solutions will solve most of the problems found at these bottlenecks. They will reduce downtime, half employment costs, protect your workforce’s health and safety and minimise damage to goods – a real productivity boost and a quick return on investment!

Truck or container loading & unloading

With a never-ending arrival of goods, it is absolutely essential that the goods are unloaded and brought into the process flow in a distribution centre as fast and accurately as possible. What are the challenges? Unloading is a laborious task, usually demanding physically strong manpower that can keep up with the high demands of the job. Goods may come in many different shapes and sizes and every single item needs to be handled with care to ensure no damage is caused. At the same time, the process must be efficient as you do not want to cause any downtime in the process steps.

Conveyor to pallet & palletizing

When the goods are unloaded, they need to be sorted and palletised in an efficient way to make their way into their final destination in the centre. This is usually a manual station requiring lots of lifts of all sorts of packages including bags, boxes and other different shaped and heavy items. How can you ensure that workers stay efficient, safe and energised throughout the day? How can you make sure they do not risk any physical strain? Can you reduce the risk of dropping and damaging the goods? And how do you make sure that the available floorspace is utilized in the best possible way?

Order picking

During order picking, which is the last element in the process that we will cover, we often see the need for two persons lifts taking place when heavy or bulky items are involved. Sometimes, goods are stored in cramped places where one person simply cannot manage the picking task on their own. However, with the recent introduction of social distancing regulations, are two person lifts a thing of the past?

Bending into pallet racks and straining while lifting goods also highly impacts the endurance of the workforce. This is something to be considered when trying to improve the efficiency of the workforce and also when needing to reduce the amount of damaged or wasted goods. When considering solutions to these issues we are faced with, as with all other parts of the logistics flow, speed is paramount. Any solution to help workers needs to be up and running without delay, so that the improvements can be made as soon as possible.

It is also very important to utilise the space available, storing goods in the best possible way, for the fastest order picking possible.

Return on Investment

When investing in new solutions or systems, it is critical to understand the return on that investment. We know for sure that one important benefit you will get from implementing assisted lifting solutions are healthier and happier employees that endure the days, months, and years in a much better condition than without. You will also decrease sick leave and associated costs, as well as minimise the trouble of having to reorganise your staff to enable them to cope with the daily tasks. In the webinar we mention above, we will also provide ROI calculations for the solutions we offer, clearly showing how soon investment in a TAWI solution will pay for itself.

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