Supply chain inefficiencies amount to 3,000hrs a year

Warehouses are losing nearly 3,000 hours a year on average through inefficient workflows and many are failing to address the issue, says new research from workflow performance company Intermec
 1 in 3 hadn’t reviewed workflow processes during 2012

Managers from 250 warehouses and distribution centres across the UK, France, Germany and the US revealed that almost one in three hadn’t conducted a workflow processes review in the last 12 months, with one in five saying that a review would only be initiated following a customer complaint. However, four in five identified greater investment in technology as being the most effective method of regaining previously lost time.

Intermec’s survey found that over a typical eight hour shift, each worker loses an average of 15 minutes of productivity through inefficient processes. In a warehouse employing 50 workers that equates to nearly 3,000 hours a year; a figure which could be significantly higher for larger organisations.

Many of the participants believed that the biggest causes of inefficient workflows were poor inventory control (26 percent), closely followed by packing and loading (20 percent) and picking (18 percent).

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This was reflected by the companies who had taken action to improve workflow productivity stating that tighter inventory control (53 percent) and picking (47 percent) were the two areas where cost savings were most easily achieved.

The survey was carried out by research company Vanson Bourne, and the only statement all participants agreed on was that pressure on warehouse and supply chain managers was continually mounting; eight out of ten had been tasked with finding almost 20 percent cost savings in existing processes.

Popular methods employed to try and achieve these savings include having workers take fewer steps, investing in faster label printing, quicker barcode label scanning and eliminating battery changes mid-shift.

Vice-President for EMEA at Intermec, Ian Snadden commented:

“Warehouse managers are faced with significant cost saving challenges, which means they can’t afford to let such levels of time wastage continue. Businesses should be looking at every workflow in detail, on a regular basis, to claim back the minutes and seconds they need to achieve these savings. As this research shows, reviewing their technology infrastructure may be the perfect place to start.

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