slowdown-growth-potential

Whether it comes as a result of an impossible-to-predict natural disaster or a regular component of a business cycle, a slowdown is going to happen every so often. Few industries are not susceptible.

Slowdowns do not necessarily mean that the business has stopped. In the current situation that affects the entire world, we are still operating at full steam. However, we are subject to regulations and restrictions that affect different cities, states, and regions throughout the country, and we adhere to the authorities there. While some projects are on pause or slowed because of external forces beyond our control, others are continuing per usual.

For those experiencing slowdowns due to external forces, there is a silver lining. During times like these, business owners and distribution center managers can take advantage of these rare slowdowns by taking a proactive approach to evaluating their operations.

What Works for Your Business? Let’s Do More.

The most natural place to start in evaluating your business is to look at what is successful. You have spent the time, resources, and investment in people and processes that led you down a path to success. After all, you have been in business for a reason. However, now is a great time to see what you can do about throwing more gas on that fire.

Are there new hires you can make in an area of your business? Can you bring someone’s problem-solving ability or mindset from one area of the company to another? For example, are there lessons you can apply from a recent win in one area of the business to another? Take a look at your past few years of reports, examine the peaks, and evaluate what it took to achieve those results. Then, do more.

What Isn’t Working for You? Can You Stop Doing Those Things?

It can seem simplistic to say, “We should stop doing the things that aren’t working for us.” However, you will rarely find a more productive time to investigate all of the areas of your business. What are those processes, partnerships, or procedures that can be removed or replaced?

Taking an accurate evaluation of your business also means you need to recognize what doesn’t work for you. It can be a difficult task because an honest assessment requires decision-makers to be humble and own up to actions that are not working the way they initially were intended. It forces action on shortcomings. However, turning those negative habits into positive ones allow your business to avoid any lags when the slowdowns stop, and your business is ready to speed up.

What Are Successful Programs You Can Adopt?

Slowdowns are also a great time to look at processes that competitors or partners have adopted recently. Would a new approach benefit your business? Would now be a good time to look at implementing something new that has worked elsewhere?

This step bears the fruit from building out your network. Is there someone you talked to at a recent conference or whom you interacted with on LinkedIn that may have some insight into something new for your business?

There’s never been a better time to stop, listen, and think about what others are doing and saying about successes in their business. How can you benefit from the lessons they’ve already learned?

It’s Time to Make the Lemonade.

Slow times can cause stress, headaches, and hardships. However, proactive businesses can stem the tide by taking the additional time afforded to them by evaluating their processes. When it is time to put the pedal to the metal, these decisions can pay off in real ways because you’ve done the leg work to put yourself in the best situation to succeed.

If you are looking for a place to start, we would love to help. Our teams are working safely and remotely during the COVID-19 crisis, and we are here to learn about the challenges you face. We are here to provide you with solutions for every square foot!

design-solutions-sku-proliferation

There are few industries that are not affected by SKU proliferation. Within industries ranging from consumer goods to life science, there are a number of supply chain complexities that come with an increase in SKUs. Typically, SKU proliferation results after a company acquisition or a new product launch. Alternatively, SKU proliferation may occur as a result of adding new varieties of current offerings or changes in seasonal demand.

SKU proliferation can cause headaches for warehouse managers who now need to anticipate new order frequencies and volumes. To combat SKU proliferation, should you completely reorganize your warehouse? Should you make minor adjustments and re-evaluate later? Where and when should you begin?

You Always Start From the Start.

The best way to battle SKU proliferation – and the inefficiencies caused by not optimizing your setup – is to start with the right design solution. The right design solution will match your storage capacity with your inventory profile, taking into account the dynamics of the optimal pick process.

By beginning with a Facility and Storage Assessment, you set yourself up for success by engineering a game plan before any action takes place. Also, we take into account other variables that can affect the optimal performance of a warehouse. Typically, we talk to clients about trends they see with smaller shipping packages, changes in service expectations, and other external factors that can reshape a distribution network. 

What Else Should You Factor In?

Also, this is a great time to introduce Smart Slotting to our clients. Smart Slotting uses factors such as labor costs, space costs, replenishment costs, and equipment costs to provide you with the most efficient inventory slotting plan. All operational costs are taken into account to define the lowest possible throughput cost per item for your facility. This

We have found that examining all variables at this stage leads to a more efficient warehouse. Ultimately, the right answer comes from taking a step back and taking a look at “the forest, not the trees.” At this point, warehouse managers need to ask themselves: Is now the right time to introduce automation? Do you need to increase dense storage? Are you running out of shelving space?

Ask the Experts.

Storage Solutions experts are here to answer these questions. We have the knowledge and experience to tailor the right solution to suit your needs. Especially if your warehouse does not have an industrial engineer on staff (and not many do), the correct answer may not occur naturally. However, the right answer will likely come from an expert who knows the ins and outs of facility redesign. It comes from making changes based on where demand from your customers is shifting. 

More often than not, we hear clients say, “I am running out of storage space.” Our answer is typically, “Are you? How well are you using the space you have?” 

The answer is not always rocket science. However, the right solution usually is simple, smart, and strategic. That is what we are here to do: Connect you with that solution. Contact us today to get started! 

increase-storage-capacity

Generally speaking, warehouse managers know when they are in need of a change in the capacity of their facility. Perhaps, there is a variance in storage needs on a seasonal basis. Or, maybe there is a known period of inventory growth coming in the near future. Ultimately, changes happen and you need to be able to adapt efficiently and effectively.

There are a lot of options available to make the best use of your space. But, what method (or, methods) of increasing storage capacity is right for your warehouse?

Let’s take a look at some options.

  • Wrap the Areas without Racking: One of the easiest ways to increase storage capacity is to identify spaces that do not currently have racking. Those locations can be perfect for being home to your “stackable” inventory. Placing pallet rack around the perimeter of these “floor stack” areas on the sides where you are not accessing them can help add overall storage capacity.
  • Increase Your Verticality: Have you ever considered utilizing splice kits to increase the height of your current racks? Taking full advantage of your cubic capacity is usually dependent on the tools you use for picking. Before you choose this option, ensure your equipment is capable of lifting your inventory to new heights.
  • Narrow the Aisles: We often find ourselves recommending that our customers narrow their aisles to increase capacity within their existing facilities. This type of remodeling is typically most beneficial when the warehouse is in the market for new picking equipment. This way, we can design an optimal layout for current needs, factoring in opportunities for growth.
  • Build a Mezzanine: A mezzanine is a standalone structure within a building, designed to maximize space above and below. Typically, these structures are incredibly durable and allow you to store more material “up” instead of “out.” Mezzanines are ideal for any commercial or industrial facility. They fit a wide variety of applications because of their flexibility to restructure.
  • Install Over Dock Doors: Especially in warehouses with active shipping and receiving areas, over dock doors can be an excellent option for temporary storage for empty pallets or dunnage. This tactic can clear space on your warehouse floor, and allow for more productive and safer use of space.

What next?

There are several other solutions out there. Many of these options could be beneficial to your ability to increase capacity without breaking the bank. If you are on the lookout for a partner that can help guide you to find the right solution for your business, contact one of our experts today.

reduce-labor-disruptions-with-tech

By nature, warehouse operation managers are skilled problem solvers. The best of these managers can quell many disruptions with quick, efficient on-their-feet decisions. Planning plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth operation. However, there will always be plenty of unforeseen hurdles to overcome, especially when it comes to labor disruptions.

No operation runs at 100% efficiency, without disruption. Even the best managers are going to come across underperformance from their teams. They will also need to overcome outdated design and other challenges that may come with traditional labor. Reducing these inefficiencies allow managers to make fewer, more thoughtful decisions by nature because they won’t be distracted by preventable disruptions.

If you are among those experiencing these issues, know that there are many flexible, cost-effective technology solutions available.

Technology Solutions for Your Operations

  1. Integrate Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). AMRs work in collaboration with human labor to achieve optimal production efficiency without the need for costly facility renovations. As a Certified Fetch Solutions Provider, we can work with you to design workflows that can be easily adjusted thanks to their cloud-based software, FetchCore. Thanks to their built-in sensors, these robots can also dynamically follow a map, allowing for an optimal travel route.
  2. Begin Smart Slotting Your Inventory. Smart Slotting is a warehouse slotting optimization tool that factors in operational, space, replenishment, equipment costs, storage mediums, and more variables to define the lowest-cost operational plan for your facility. With Smart Slotting, we can take the guesswork out of facility layout by calculating the impact that potential changes will make before implementing them.
  3. Install Pick-to-Light and Put-to-Light Solutions. Because they use the same hardware and software, warehouses can utilize both Pick-to-Light and Put-to-Light Solutions to automate various fulfillment processes. The main goal of both systems is to give you the ability to pack and ship more orders in less time while reducing errors.
  4. Implement Warehouse Execution Systems. A Warehouse Execution System (WES) is a software solution that directs all processes that occur in a distribution center. This system will prioritize work in a way to optimize fulfillment while keeping your facility streamlined. These systems are ideal for operations with less-robust WMS or ERP support. Also, these systems may let you introduce zone or batch-picking to your pick process. This benefit is not possible through some Warehouse Management Systems (WMS).

Whatever the level of consistency you have in labor costs, it can increase with the implementation of technology solutions. Contact us today and let’s talk about what might be right for your operation.

dynamic-solutions-labor-costs

With wages projected to rise nationwide, along with costs associated with employee safety, warehouse managers are experiencing an uncomfortable environment of increasing labor costs. Labor cost issues are not unique to those in the material handling industry. The cost of labor in this industry is especially affected by variance when it comes to maintaining the high levels of service expected by customers today.

No one can predict the future. Accidents are avoidable but happen. Weather delays are not unavoidable. Production delays, changes in regulations, and “the human element” all factor into these variances in labor costs. So, how does one accurately forecast? Can you avoid any of these variances with the addition of automation?

Thankfully, the answer is yes. Our experts know how to solve these issues by introducing dynamic solutions to your operations.

Dynamic solutions like vertical lift machines, conveyors, or any of Fetch Robotics’ On-Demand Automation Solutions supplement your current labor force. These solutions allow for growth for your employees. Rather than having your team carrying items back and forth, dynamic solutions assist with the mundane, repetitive aspects of picking. With dynamic solutions in place, your team can focus its attention on more rewarding – and profitable – tasks and initiatives.

How Dynamic Solutions Help Your Business:

  • Cost Certainty: Adding dynamic solutions can help add cost certainty to your budgeting process. We create efficiencies by automating processes that typically are done by manual labor. With investments into automated solutions, you can streamline variable costs that come with human labor – salary, vacation, benefits, insurance, and more.
  • Right-Sized Investments: When it comes to investing in automated solutions, there is a typical misconception around the size of investment a business needs to make. When you work with a Storage Solutions expert, we will work with your team to address your needs and find the right solution, with an investment that matches your budget and fits within your current operation. Every client has unique challenges. However, we solve these challenges by eliminating unnecessary costs.
  • The “Human Element”: Let’s face it. There is a “human element” that comes with labor that often goes understated and underreported. For example, managers account for sick days, underperformance, and other indirect factors that come with employment. By introducing dynamic solutions, you can account for those lost costs and remove some overhead in the process, adding to your overall efficiency.
  • Maximize Potential – While the “human element” is real, your co-workers are still your co-workers. Now that mundane tasks are automated, what kind of work will your employees do next? How will additional attention toward safety, execution, and optimization improve your warehouse and workflow?

What is Next?

Dynamic Solutions are available to help you run your operations smoother. With a higher level of certainty and quality, where can you see your business in just a few months?

Our experts often see returns on our dynamic solutions within two years or less, because we put the right solution in front of our clients. We pay attention to the details so we can customize a solution to satisfy the exact needs of your operations.

Contact us today to learn more about our Dynamic Solutions and how these solutions can support your bottom line.

project management teams

Storage Solutions’ Project Management teams have decades of experience. Therefore, we have supervised the operations on hundreds of build-outs, dismantles, and relocations across North America. Utilizing our multi-tiered project management approach, these teams oversee every aspect of the project and ensure the project plan is executed from start to finish. This approach translates into creating efficiencies that generate better returns – and fewer surprises – along the way.

When you work with our Project Management teams, you’ll have a detailed project schedule that allows you to see every step of the process. Our teams come equipped to support your project with layout & design services, logistics, installation, on-site project management, and project coordination.

Your Storage Solution Project Manager will be the direct point of contact throughout the life of your project. This single point of contact allows you to have better communication, command, and control as the process unfolds.

Many projects face unforeseen challenges, such as construction delays caused by weather. However, our Project Managers have overseen a multitude of projects and we always try to anticipate the unexpected. Therefore, we know how to keep everything on budget and delivered on time, so you don’t have to worry about incurring additional costs or missing crucial deadlines.

Throughout your project, we are always working to ensure that you are provided with optimal results. Our Project Management teams are ready to take on your next project with you. Get Storage Solutions on your side to guide and navigate with knowledge, strategy, and expertise.

Give us a call at 317.449.1970 or contact us here for your next project, big or small.

Teardrop Pallet Rack

Recently, Storage Solutions posted a blog called All You Need To Know About Pallet Racks, which overviews different designs we have in stock at our warehouse in Westfield, IN. This blog will go more in-depth on the Teardrop Pallet Rack design.

The Teardrop Pallet Rack is constructed of cold-rolled steel, which is commonly referred to as “roll-formed steel.” The racking structure involves an upright with open holes on its face that are shaped like “teardrops.” The structure also has beams that have connectors with “rivets” that slide into place in the teardrop punch on the face of the uprights. This type of structure allows for the simple connection of beams and uprights.

Take a look at our visual glossary to see the Teardrop design as well as others we keep in stock.

Benefits of Teardrop Pallet Rack

The Teardrop design is the most common design in the industry. Because the style is ubiquitous, beams and uprights are often interchangeable and compatible with other manufacturer designs. Therefore, it allows peace of mind when buying additional racking for your growing facility. Also, when compared to the heavier design of structural racking, the teardrop rack is the most economical.

Storage Solutions stocks Teardrop Pallet Racks that utilize a spring-activated safety lock. This lock prevents the beam from dislodging from the upright during loading and unloading. We prioritize safety in our warehouse and we want to ensure the same in your facility.

Teardrop Pallet Racks can be used to fit your specific needs and can be equipped with custom accessories to fit any function. This racking design has a wide variety of colors, sizes, and capacities so you can find the right one for you.

In addition to selling new equipment, we also sell used pallet rack beams and uprights. Check out the advantages of buying used equipment here.

Want more information on Teardrop Pallet Racks? Give us a call at 317.449.8726 or contact us here. Our team is happy to help you!

Fetch Robotics Smart Slotting

One of the hidden costs of warehouse operations is inefficiency. Because there is no line-item on the operating statement associated with suboptimal performance, the costs associated with unnecessary wear-and-tear, unneeded turnover, and the growing gap between what you are doing and your competitors’ performance. Sometimes, these inefficient processes go untended for too long.

What is the value of your warehouse efficiency? What is it worth to improve your storage utilization by more than 70%? How much longer is your business going to wait for data to drive your processes?

Warehouse picking is about balancing what has to be done manually with areas where automation can be cost-justified.

At the end of the day, warehouse optimization is all about balancing workloads within picking zones. Every bottleneck or delay in picking causes the next action to be delayed. When you take into account the number of picks per day, week, and month, the total can begin to add up in the wrong way. Especially for operators who lack good balance throughout their picking areas.

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) provide a great flexible and scalable solution to automate picking. However, one big challenge of all AMR solutions is the need to balance workload throughout all pick zones. The easiest and most cost-effective way to address this balance is with a good slotting plan.

By combining Fetch Robotics’ On-Demand Automation services solutions and Storage Solutions’ Smart Slotting, warehouses can experience unmatched efficiency in their picking processes.

How Does It Work?

To begin, Storage Solutions will evaluate your current process and layout. Using our special slotting tool, Storage Solutions establishes a “heat map” of your most popular SKUs. From there, we evaluate costs associated with space, replenishment, and equipment to provide you with the most productive solution possible. It is all based on data — not guessing or assuming.

In short, we use the information to configure the SKUs you pick the most to be as efficient as possible. And, we spread them evenly throughout all pick zones to avoid bottlenecks and maximize productivity.

From there, once the proper inventory slotting plan has been established, we work with our Fetch Robotics team to ensure the optimal workflow is put into place.

Finding the right balance

Fetch Robotics is an industry leader in On-Demand Automation. As a Fetch Certified Solutions provider, we offer dynamic, flexible solutions to make the most out of every square foot. Autonomous mobile robots are designed to be deployed into any facility, as is – without adding physical infrastructure or installing IT systems, built to any scale with flexibility to change on the fly.

We work with your footprint to get the most products out of your door in the most cost-effective way. Also, we design with flexibility to adapt to ever-changing business needs and scalability for your company to grow.

Less wear and tear

With Smart Slotting, you can make the best use of some of your biggest capital investments: your material handling equipment. Many other slotting systems only take into account the total distance traveled in the picking process. Smart Slotting assigns dollars to your data, measuring labor, materials, equipment, storage mediums, and more. Then, we define and implement the lowest-cost operating plan for your facility.

Let’s say your environment changes, given new demand or a new set of orders. We can reoptimize the inventory slotting plan at any time. We would only need a new data set.

Lower labor costs per pick

By placing the most-selected items in the easiest-to-access areas of your warehouse, you physically move less. Imagine the savings in labor costs and efforts by doing the most repeated tasks more efficiently, every time. We also have the ability to factor in seasonal spikes to account for times in which you may be moving more products.

Want to learn more about how Smart Slotting works? Read our latest case study and success story here.

While You Wait

While you continue operating with inefficiencies, the world is changing. The “Amazon Effect” is real. The highest-performing warehouses are constantly re-evaluating and optimizing.
While you are addressing your warehouse’s labor shortages, your competitors are reducing their turnaround times and adjusting to a new demand model.

By combining Smart Slotting with a Fetch Robotics solution, you are setting your warehouse up for success both in the short-term and long-term. You are using data, technology, and automation to achieve maximum efficiency as soon as possible, all while factoring in future growth potential.

The decision does not have to be made today. However, the process can start at any time. Click here, hit the chat button below, or call us at 317-449-8740 and one of our experts can get begin to determine your workflow needs.

Hurricane Florence North Carolina

One thing we pride ourselves on is being able to plan and control every detail when it comes to our projects. However, one thing we sometimes can’t control is mother nature. In this Roxboro, North Carolina project we had to adjust things for that exact reason.

This customer was looking to expand their operation and add a second plant with a single-source solution provider. We were confident we could do exactly that, and had a plan laid out to execute their expansion. What we didn’t plan on was the arrival of Hurricane Florence in the area.

Project Details

The plan was to install the project in two phases, per the needs of the customer. Phase one, which included a main warehouse design, was scheduled to be installed in late 2018. We had planned to have a team onsite leading up to that installation, but with severe weather in the area plans obviously had to change. As a result, this required us to do the bulk of the project consulting off-site. In addition, shipping and other aspects were affected as well. We knew that constant and clear communication would be a huge part of keeping this project on track. Our project management team adjusted to the situation by scheduling extra touch points to keep the customer updated.

Despite multiple obstacles that could have set this project up for failure, our turnkey solutions team delivered. We were able to keep the project on track with our original deadline while keeping the customer happy as well. We are currently wrapping up phase two of the installation, which includes a high density selective racking solution for up to 3100 pallet locations. This is just one of many examples where our team does what it takes to make sure your project is successful.

Want to learn more about past projects we have completed? Check out other case studies from a variety of project types across several industries. Let Storage Solutions be your simple, smart and strategic partner for any of your upcoming project needs!

Project Spotlight Smart Slotting

You may have heard us mention our new Smart Slotting tool recently. In this project, the customer came to us looking for an answer to their low storage utilization percentage of 20% across the entire facility. With Smart Slotting, we were able to provide a practical answer to this problem, while also increasing productivity and efficiency.

By collecting some preliminary data, our experienced team uses Smart Slotting to provide a layout that best suits your needs. This new layout provides you lower operating cost, while also increasing the daily throughput of your facility.

In this example, the customer saw over a 12% decrease in their daily labor costs. They were able to find a location for all of their SKUs, and raise their storage utilization numbers over 70%. In addition, they were able to cut their storage mediums in half after the Smart Slotting evaluation. The new location types and sizes designed for stored items is much more efficient and simple.

This project had a significant impact on the customer’s operation by improving space utilization, reducing labor costs, and increasing throughput to lower operating costs. The new storage configuration also set the customer up with space for product growth for a minimum of five years.

Interested in learning more about the methodology and analysis behind this project? View the full case study here and contact us today to see how we can assist with your operational needs.