Working in Logistics or Distribution is a never-ending strive 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 online sales or e-commerce is accelerating, Logistics and Distribution centres need to keep up with an even higher pace and demand. Since the pandemic hit us, more than one in three consumers admit to beginning with – or increasing – their online grocery shopping. (Source: Ericsson) Are there still elements in the logistics process that can be improved? Is doubled productivity even a possibility?
In the media industry, the digital transformation has enabled consumers instant access to whatever content they want. In the non-digital world, 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 percent 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 unique challenges of course.
- Truck or container loading & unloading
- Conveyor to pallet & palletizing
- Order picking
Handling products is still – whether it is unloading, palletizing or order picking – a highly manual task, although more or less automated solutions continue to emerge.
Efficient lifting solutions will solve most of the hassle found at these bottlenecks. Reducing downtime, half the employee cost, secure your personnel’s health and safety, minimize damage to the goods – a real productivity boost and a quick return on investment! Watch a recorded TAWI webinar on productivity in logistics to learn more.
Truck or container loading & unloading
With a never-ending arrival of goods, it is of essence that the goods are unloaded and brought into the process flow in a distribution centre as fast and accurate as possible. What are the challenges? Unloading is a laborious task, usually demanding physically strong manpower that can cope up with the hard work. Goods might come in many different sizes and shapes and all need to be handled with care not to cause damage. At the same time, you do not want to cause any downtime in the following process steps.
Conveyor to pallet & palletizing
When the goods are unloaded, they need to be sorted and palletized 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, bags, long, heavy items. How can you ensure that workers stay efficient throughout the day? How can you make sure they do not risk any physical strain to their bodies? Can you reduce the risk of dropping and damaging the goods? And how to make sure that the available floorspace is utilized in the best possible way?
In the last element of the logistic process flow we want to cover – the order picking – we often see the need for 2 persons helping each other to manage heavy or bulky items. Sometimes the product is stored in cramped places where one person simply cannot manage the picking on their own. Then again, we have the problem of social distancing.
Bending into pallet racks, twisting and turning while lifting goods is also highly affecting the endurance of the workforce.
Here, as in all other parts of the logistics flow speed is of essence. Any solution to help workers needs to be up and running without delay.
It is also very important to optimize utilization of space, storing goods in the best possible way for the fastest order picking possible.
Solutions to bottlenecks in Logistics
There are several different lifting solutions that can solve the difficulties in the different steps described. In many aspects make vacuum lifting stand out compared to the alternatives. Download the full article on productivity in logistics to learn more.
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 minimize the trouble of having to reorganize personnel to cope with the daily tasks. In the above mentioned webinar we will also provide ROI calculations for the solutions we offer, clearly showing how soon an investment in a TAWI solution will pay for itself.
Warehouses and distribution centres face significant challenges with labour shortages and high employee turnover rates, leading to increased overtime and staffing issues. A flexible workforce, enhanced with vacuum lifting technology, can be a game-changer in addressing these challenges.
The logistics industry is constantly changing and adapting to the rapid growth of technology and the need to conserve the environment. For any business to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in these times, it must be flexible enough to accommodate the latest technological advancements, new processes, and strategies to succeed. Logistics technology will continue to expand and grow, making the logistics industry more agile and reliable. Here are some top trends to watch in 2023 that will shape the future of the logistics industry.
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