School Health Corp., an Alpine Supply Chain Solutions client, was recently featured in Modern Materials Handling article discussing their new warehouse project using innovative labeling and strategic warehouse slotting optimization.
“While we are adept at warehouse operations and order fulfillment, our current team had never designed a warehouse from scratch before,” says Beth Reed, School Health’s project manager/training developer.
Beth Reed, Project Manager & Training Developer at School Health
To receive assistance with its warehouse location methodology and slotting plans, School Health worked with Alpine SupplyChain Solutions. The project’s goals included minimizing the time and distance required to replenish key products; reducing workers’ bend-and-reach requirements for placing and picking products; and organizing its inventory more efficiently, leading to greater throughput.
“In my role, I hadn’t previously spent a lot of time thinking about warehouse location address methodology,” Reed notes. “But working with Alpine made the entire project team appreciate the science involved in slotting our products.” She continues, “An optimally slotted warehouse supports efficiency and profitability. Just as important, it also minimizes the time and effort involved in key tasks like product putaway, picking and order fulfillment, which our employees appreciate.”
Alpine Supply Chain Solutions, a leading boutique supply chain consulting firm, today announced the successful completion of a distribution and throughput project for The Bazaar Inc., the number one seller of brand name merchandise closeouts. Alpine Supply Chain Solutions collaborated with Conveyor Solutions Inc. (CSI) to provide The Bazaar with:
- Improved space utilization
- Increased throughput
- Decreased dock to stock time
- Reduced labor costs
Alpine has always been dedicated to helping clients make the most of the resources they have, rather than reinventing the wheel. This project with Bazaar was no exception. By improving processes and space utilization, Bazaar was able to realize a 25% decrease in dock to stock time, a substantial increase in throughput, and reduce labor costs by 30 percent.
According to Ryan O’Connor, SVP of Operations at Bazaar, “The combination of CSI’s equipment and installation experience and Alpine’s data-centric approach provided Bazaar with a real-world solution to address our need to be flexible. The team was collaborative from the beginning, and did not try to sell us anything until they determined exactly what we needed. In the end, Alpine developed a very simple solution to handle a very complex problem.”
When Bazaar began working with CSI and Alpine, the company was at capacity and unable to cost-effectively scale and engage in new opportunities. Despite the addition of new real estate, they continued to struggle. In the end, eliminating duplicate administration, management, and transportation tasks and consolidating two facilities into one with a more efficient layout turned out to be the answer.
According to Michael Wohlwend, Managing Principal at Alpine, “The key to success in this project was tied to studying data to gain a true understanding of orders, items, product types, and quantities and architecting a solution around that reality.” Kevin Thompson, Partner at CSI, feels Alpine’s focus on data is what made the joint effort so successful. Thompson states, “Working with Alpine to define the project requirements based on the actual data analysis has proven time and again the best way to accomplish the customer goals. Projects without Alpine’s analysis tend to have variable ways to determine success.”
About The Bazaar Inc.
The Bazaar Inc. is a family-owned business that has been leading the charge in purchasing name-brand closeouts to be sold on the secondary retail market for 60 years. The company moves hundreds of thousands of units of retail and CPG goods through small to large retail and wholesale partners around the world. As a trusted liquidation partner to manufacturers, Bazaar provides a unique and valuable inventory asset-recovery re-processing service that is unmatched in the marketplace. To learn more, visit: http://www.thebazaarinc.com.
About Alpine Supply Chain Solutions
Alpine Supply Chain Solutions, based in Chicago, IL is a supply chain consulting company driven to ensure their clients get the most value from their investments. Their approach to every project starts with the data and ends with a cost justifiable solution. With deep roots in industrial engineering, Alpine’s approach is unique. For more information, please visit the company website at: http://www.AlpineSupplyChain.com.
About Conveyor Solutions, a Systems in Motion Company
Conveyor Solutions based in Elgin, IL is an Automated Material Handling Integrator driven to build relationships with our customers for long term partnerships. We create an environment of collaborative design with our clients to achieve the goals of the project. Systems in Motion is a team of companies that work together to provide a complete turnkey solution. Learn more at: http://www.conveyorsolutions.com.
In this WERC Webinar, The Midwest WERCouncil and Alpine Solutions’ Brenda Stoltz and David Fredericks, experts in operations management conducted a webinar on How to Establish and Sustain SOPs in Your DC. You can watch now on demand.
Brenda and David dive into:
- Why standardization and consistent execution of procedures are important
- How to assess and document your current state
- Identifying and validating improvements
- Implementing new standards
- Managing ongoing oversight, compliance and continuous improvement
Modern Materials Handling article by Bob Trebilcock is good round up of the supply chain industry’s response to Covid-19 amid a lack of concrete guidelines.
As the economy begins to recover, distribution center operators will be challenged with not just operating efficiently, but safely. Emerging technologies may aid in the effort.
“Our industry has always looked for solutions to operate in an efficient and cost-effective way; now, it will also struggle with new issues related to preventing the spread of a virus—either Covid-19, or whatever is around the bend. They will largely be on their own: As of this writing, the CDC guidelines for re-opening businesses were polite suggestions, not prescriptions. What’s more, while we know lawsuits will be filed by employees who test positive for the virus after we all return to work, we don’t yet know whether those claims will be governed by OSHA and worker compensation or the courts. The message is essentially:
Get back to work, and good luck.
If there is light at the end of the tunnel, it’s that some potential solutions are coming to market from materials handling technology providers. Make no mistake: This is an emerging area, and there’s no guarantee any of these solutions will create the bullet-proof, safe operating environment we will all strive for. Nor is this a comprehensive list: New emails are showing up in our inbox daily. But, the following companies are developing solutions for plants and DCs around screening, workplace social distancing and finally, contact tracing should an associate test positive. They, or their competitors, may be worth investigating as you look to create your own safe working environment.”
A first step to a safer workplace is to create basic processes around cleaning, disinfecting, scheduling and, perhaps most importantly, what to do if an associate tests positive. Michael Wohlwend, managing principal with Alpine Supply Chain Solutions, relates the story of a client who had to shut down a warehouse for two weeks following a positive Covid case. “While they were cleaning and sanitizing the facility, every team leader was on the phone with suggestions for new procedures that would give the team the confidence to come back to work,” Wohlwend recalls. “It was a real wake up call.”
Just as important as the new procedures, which might vary from one facility to the next, is the ability to enforce them and demonstrate that they were followed if needed. To that end, Alpine worked with Procurant, a California-based technology company, to develop a phone app for auditing workplace procedures. It is created on a Cloud-based food safety tool that Procurant developed for tracking and tracing in the agricultural supply chain.
“You can set up as many checklists as you need, and then create a time stamp when tasks are completed,” Wohlwend says. “At the end of the day, you can create reports of what was done, who did it, when they did it and any corrective actions that were taken.” Training videos can be accessed using the tool for easy access, and alerts can be e-mailed or texted to individuals who need to be contacted. “If a person tests positive, you now have a checklist of what you need to do, and you can produce an audit trail of what was done,” Wohlwend says.
About Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling.