A “Don’t Touch” Strategy will Dramatically Lean out your Supply Chain!

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The box I was looking at in the Pick-To-Light (PTL)  lane was full of at least 1-2 dozen different skus with as many as one to twenty of each sku in the box.  It looked like the insides of a piñata in there.  Although a piñata is used in celebrations I was quite sure that when the retail store opened the box they wouldn’t be celebrating.

All along the PTL conveyor every box looked like an explosion of different skus in different quantities.  At every station an employee was following the lights and picking a different quantity of each sku from one set of boxes and putting them in the “piñata” box.

I knew that this was the way it had historically been done, and the company had just spent millions and millions of dollars automating this historic process, but from a Lean perspective the whole approach was wasteful, slow, and expensive.

Was it really necessary to touch every single piece of every single sku multiple times?

Continue reading “A “Don’t Touch” Strategy will Dramatically Lean out your Supply Chain!”

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Global Process Excellence (Part 4) – Introducing Lean In Retail … Start in the Backroom!

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The Retail company I had just joined was undergoing a massive transformation.  Fundamentally the new merchandising strategy was to curate a dramatically different set of products from that which was carried historically, but in addition to what was carried historically.

This meant that an enormous number of the business processes had to be transformed to support the new product set because management of the new merchandise required much different capabilities in all aspects of running a retail company.  Not only did this transformation require new capabilities but it also required  improvements to productivity and efficiency throughout the company.  And overall this meant a need for cultural change.

I decided that I would introduce Lean process improvement techniques to this company.

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Global Process Excellence (Part 3) … Streamline your Entire DC at One Time!

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How many times have you looked at your operation and thought about how you would re-layout and streamline the process flow if you had the chance?

When you are starting with a new, empty facility it is clearly much easier to layout the operations to make the best possible flow of materials and processes.  But when you have an existing operation which has evolved over a long period of time, you are likely faced with utilities, equipment, infrastructure, walls, and paradigms all of which have resulted in a rather inefficient flow of materials and people and processes.

This was the situation we had in one of our Distribution Centres. In this particular Distribution Centre the current layout of the operation had been the result of many iterations of adding new customers, new products and new processes over time with the associated fluctuations in demand for everything.

Yet with the launch of our Global Process Excellence project we had unleashed our employees to make the improvements they had imagined could be made for a long time.

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Network Optimization – What are your Criteria?

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Network optimization is a critical issue across all Supply Chains.  In Manufacturing, Distribution, Logistics and Retail the effectiveness of your network will make the difference between success and failure.

There are many environmental factors that must be taken in to account in order to define and optimize your network.  Your business may be growing or declining. You may be expanding into new channels, such as E-Commerce, or you may be pulling back.  And you may have just received a cash infusion allowing you to invest more, or you may have enormous cash and profit pressures forcing you to ratify your network.

Whatever your situation your network must continually be optimized.  Your facilities, whether owned, rented or outsourced, are the living organism which make up your network and define how your company goes to market.

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Global Process Excellence (Part 2) … Defining the Roadmap to Achieve Best In Class Results

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Global Process Excellence” was to be the platform on which we would propel the company’s Operations upward toward Best In Class status.  Our Call To Action objectives were clear:

  • We had a clear requirement to improve our profitability
  • We needed to respond to customer expectations for increased value and a consistent, exceptional customer experience in all Distribution Centres
  • We needed to lean out the operations and improve our productivity
  • We needed to create Best in Class capabilities
  • We needed to enable profitable growth on the back of an enhanced Operating model, capacity and capabilities
  • And we needed to unleash the tremendous experience and expertise that resided within our employees

Now we needed to formulate our Roadmap: the Approach, the Mandate, a set of Ground rules, and a process of Governance to bring together everything that would now be called Global Process Excellence.

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E-Commerce Fulfillment (Part 2) – Move The Material To The People, Not The Other Way Around!

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“Here Come The Bots!”

Wow!  This was the headline caption on the presentation I was about to see.  I had just joined the company.  I had just spent the last few years in Retail.  I had done a lot of research on how to improve efficiencies and productivity in Online/E-Commerce Fulfillment Distribution Centres.  And I had lived through the agonizing process and resource challenges of fulfilling E-Commerce orders during the Holiday season, which is far and away the busiest time of the year in Retail.

So I was very intrigued to see the strategy the company was about to embark on with this presentation.  From experience I knew that having operators manually pushing carts up and down the aisles of vast warehouses was inefficient and wasteful in most every way.  I had been working on plans to improve this and I certainly had my own point of view.

At it’s core I knew that the paradigm had to be one of moving the material TO your employees, not moving your employees to the material.  But what I saw next fell far short of what I hoped to see.

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Collaborative Robots: Making Manufacturing Jobs More Valuable

Tony Giovaniello - Photo 20170207_111931

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Collaborative Robots, Making Manufacturing Jobs More Valuable:
People using robots to improve productivity, safety, consistency, and learning

By Tony Giovaniello, President, Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Shasta County

 

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