Being competitive in today’s evolving order picking environment whether you require an e-commerce multichannel order fulfillment system, a manufacturer doing kitting, a warehouse doing order picking or a retail store chain doing distribution to your stores, gaining an edge with high efficiency, lower-cost fast ROI material handling and integrated systems is imperative. Today competitiveness is backing up good research and development with reductions in the cost of doing business. The two largest costs in both industry and facility are labor and space. Space is the physicality necessary to manage, distribute, and manufacture a product or service.
Through the reduction of this operational footprint, manufacturers, distributors, and other service companies can minimize operation costs significantly. In fact, there are several benefits and savings associated with the implementation of specific and common practices toward minimizing a business’ footprint.
Most often, labor takes a considerable amount of cost for a business because it is most challenging to control and effectively manage. By minimizing specific elements like training or health insurance, there is reduced risk of output, quality, and marketing time. A quick solution to the reduction of space and labor costs has commonly been to establish offshore operations.
It is now known that the more minimal the manufacturing process and commoditization of products, the more success is probable for a business. Offshore operations provide cheaper forms of space and labor when compared to the direct costs of North American operations. In fact, many businesses are turning their offshore operations back to North America due to additional costs occurred by extended supply chains, loss of intellectual property, unresponsive marketplace, personal legal liability for product issues, as well as other accumulated costs.
By conducting a space and labor survey, manufacturers, warehouse and distribution operations, medical supply, and other business organizations can quickly gain insights into space and labor dynamics and how they influence profitability. A survey allows an organization to find the processes best suited to optimization, which translates into the competitive advantages required to excel in today’s global economy.
Use space or lose space
Successful businesses realize the intrinsic benefits with which space provides, where opportunity is converted into an opportunity. Consolidation and optimization can be an effective solution for excessive space for example. Is it possible for multiple departments or facilities that carry spare components for manufacturing, retail, customer service, maintenance, customer walk-ups, mail order, or e-commerce facilities to be consolidated? Combining operations, specifically non-value set-ups such as storage, reduces inventory but also adds space for more value-added operations. In these cases, entire facilities can be removed from operations.
By renovating unused space through the installation of high-density storage, process improvement, and material handling equipment, space optimization can be achieved. Improving processes greatly assists in balancing zones, eliminating inventory, reducing excess storage, and human touches by the combination of areas and applications. In reducing operational space, companies can build smaller, yet more energy-efficient platforms, therefore shrinking the construction footprint by up to 15% in some cases. This also conserves natural resources and reduces maintenance costs. This optimized space utilization not only reduces energy costs but inherently reduces a business’ overall carbon footprint. Through in-depth surveys, operational space elements can be identified, analyzed, and applied.
The solution can be in-process and inventory levels or could be by optimizing automated material handling systems. Reconfiguring conveyor systems to meet current requirements and best practices often save valuable floor space. Likewise integrating automated storage and retrieval systems such as mid load automated storage systems, horizontal carousels, VLMs (vertical lift modules), vertical carousels, pick modules and other systems can be integrated into an existing facility, department or zone to bring tremendous reductions in space and labor. When a proper survey is conducted, an ROI (return on investment) can often be found in less than twelve months or less. Integrated Systems and Design – ISD provides such surveys to help find the efficiencies organizations need to compete and exceed in today’s business environment.