Unemployment recently hit a 10 year low, sending a wake-up call that companies need to invest in technology to increase productivity in warehousing and distribution operations!

The US Job Market added more jobs than expected, lowering the US Unemployment rate to a 10-year low.  The latest report shows the addition of 138,000 jobs with the unemployment rate at 4.3%, putting the US economy effectively at historic full employment.  Additionally, the two month Consumer Confidence Index is at its highest level in 8 years, which should strengthen American businesses’ confidence in the US economy and its continued growth.

With an already tight labor pool getting tighter, manufacturing and warehouse distribution operations are finding it increasingly difficult to find reliable workers. Baby boomers are continuing to retire at record numbers, and the cost of wages and benefits will increase significantly.

When you add in the cost to recruit and hire new employees, and the fact that it is far more difficult and expensive to find manual labor and temporary workers during peak periods, companies have no better return on their investment than automation technologies.  Additionally, automation increases productivity and accuracy, reducing expensive error rates.

Winning businesses are quickly adapting to the changing labor market by investing in leaner, less labor intensive processes that eliminate wasted touches, and at the same time increase order fulfillment accuracy. Implementing the right automation, such as pick by voice in combination with pack and ship automation technologies, is a proven strategy to boost productivity 30 to 50% or more in manufacturing and distribution operations.

Here’s a few reasons to investigate voice picking technology:

  1. 12 to 18-month ROI
  2. Pick by Voice is quickly deployed, resulting in immediate increases in picking productivity and order accuracy. It is well suited to for Omni-channel picking, B to B, and E-Com fulfillment, especially in applications that require capture of lot codes, serial numbers, and sell by date data.
  3. The latest generation voice is speaker independent, and eliminates operator voice training so operators become instantly productive, even temporary workers! Reduced training time combined with hands-free barcode scanning provides pick and pack validation in a single touch directly to the shipping carton.
  4. Voice directed pick, pack, and ship order fulfillment outperforms manual processes like paper based picking or RF terminal based picking with 25% to 30% gains in productivity and accuracy rates of 99.98%+ with no secondary inspection.
  5. Pick by Voice enforces better work practices across your workforce and directs operators in a lean, efficient, and uniform order picking practice. It includes a labor management module that measures and reports worker productivity, and provides additional tools to analyze order fulfillment costs, which allows for increased focus on distribution profitability.

Tips to Improve the Pick Process

Start by reviewing the pick processes and making sure the SKU slotting profile is based on velocity movement.  An efficient travel path with SKU’s properly slotted based on A, B, C velocity will create a more efficient pick, pack, and ship order fulfillment process. Picking labor can account for up to 55% of a DC’s labor cost, so an efficient and lean process combined with the right technology drives wasted steps and costs out of the operation!

Once picking is streamlined, don’t ignore the additional improvements to be gained by deploying automated pack and ship technologies such as in-line pack automation lines that combine scan-weigh-audit, pack sheet print and insert, void fill and auto carton taping/sealers, automated print and apply labeling, and manifesting.  Automation in packing can increase daily shipment capacity, eliminate overtime, and cut labor costs by 50%.

In conclusion, adding automation increases the productivity of your operation without adding workers and in many instances with few employees. Numina Group can assist you in making this happen at your operation. We will define and develop improved order fulfillment processes, and help in selection and implementation of automation technologies that improve productivity and profitability across the entire distribution operation

Are you looking for tips to improve the picking process in your DC facilities?  The Numina Group is here to help.  Call (630) 343-2638 or Fill out a Contact Form to arrange a complimentary site visit and consultation.