Premier Issue - New Year's Resolutions for your DC

The Distribution Factor

Helpful Information and Ideas for the Distribution Professional

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Welcome to the Premiere Issue of my Newsletter!

Sam Flanders, President WMC

It is that time of year again. What are your
New Year's Resolutions
for your Distribution Operation? The Feature Story will give you my thoughts.

Click the Graphic Below for Info

A unique two-day forum on optimizing layout, process and technology for streamlined distribution center operations.

Chicago - September 14-15
San Diego - September 28-29

Sam Flanders, 2wmc

Now is your chance to advance your career or business by getting two days of focused distribution education!

Come join me for an interactive two-day learning experience that you won't be able to find anywhere else!

Save 15-50% on Labor!

At WMC, we are experts in helping our clients save money. We do this by helping clients select solutions that meet their specific requirements. Unlike many systems and equipment providers, including some who call themselves consultants, WMC has nothing to sell you other than our experience. We work exclusively for you and represent no other system or equipment provider.

We evaluate low or no cost solutions first, and then show you what you can do before you invest in capital solutions. By taking this approach, you are able to assess the true value of those capital solutions - by considering only the additional savings that they provide - a step often skipped over by salespeople.

We understand all types of order selection systems, including voice directed picking, pick to light, carousels, AS/RS systems, sorters, A-Frames, and RF scanner based systems. We can help you figure our which solutions are best for your operation. Give us a call today (603) 868-6767.

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A Look Ahead to Next Month  

Feature Story:
Top 10 Opportunities for Saving Money in your Distribution Operation

Video of the Month:
A System that Fills One Customer Order every 2 Seconds

Operations Spotlight:
Packing and Manifesting Area

Technology of the Month:
Pick to Light

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WMC to Participate at NCOF 2006

WMC's president will return to speak at the NCOF 2006 in Orlando, Florida April 10-12. Sam Flanders will give three speeches including:

  • Cutting Costs BEFORE You Spend a Fortune?
  • Order Selection A-Z
  • Pack and Ship - The Last 100 Yards

Click the NCOF graphic above for complete details of the show.

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Volume I, Number 1, January 6, 2006


Feature Story:  Year End is the Time to Focus on Improvements   


For those involved in a seasonal business, now is the perfect time to look back on the year and make improvements. With the holiday rush just completed, you have the time to look back on what went right and what went wrong. There is no better time to ask you staff for input, while the battle scars are still fresh in their minds.


Send an e-mail out to your key staff members: ask them to identify the 5 biggest problems that they encountered in their area this season. Have them canvas their team members to find out about problems on an area-by-area basis. You can also request all hourly paid employees to respond with their suggestions. Compile a master list from the feedback you obtain, and organize it based on the frequency and the critical nature of the feedback. Develop a consensus about the most important items on the list, and organize these into a list of challenges needing solutions.


Now, assign a name to each important challenge, and a date when you or your team will review the recommended solutions. Empower your team members to take the initiative to explore solutions, speak to staff, call vendors, talk to other distribution professionals. Let your people know that they are responsible for delivering a set of reasonable recommendations to you, and set the dates for this to happen.

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Video of the Month: In-Line Void Fill Systems Save Time!   

Are your people packing out their orders individually at tables? Consider an in-line void fill system as an alternative to table based packing. In-line systems may use peanuts, paper, air pillows, or foam. A key advantage of in-line systems is that the void fill material is dispensed on demand, under control of the operator, and the fill operation is reduced to only a few seconds (from as much as several minutes). In-line systems work best for shipping containers that can be transported with their flaps open easily on a conveyor.

In-line systems are a natural solution when orders are picked directly to shipping boxes. They may also be used in some situations where orders are transferred to a shipping box after picking is completed. They are not always the best choice for fragile, very small packages, or orders that require special wrapping and care.

Video Courtesy: Ranpak Corp.

Requires Flash

Clicking the graphic to the left will open a new window an play your video.

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Operations Spotlight: Replenishment   

Replenishment is something that we all have to do. In smaller operations, products are simply moved from the receiving area to the primary storage location. In larger operations, there can be 2 or more places where the same item is stored.

Here are some tips to consider when reviewing your replenishment operation:

  • If you are replenishing a particular item more than once a week, consider increasing the item's storage capacity in your primary pick area.
  • Classify your products into A, B, and C movers. A items are your 5% fastest movers, and can be replenished often. C items are your 80% slowest, and should never be replenished more than once every few weeks.
  • Always consider material flow when evaluating your replenishment operation. If possible, locate overflow items near to the primary storage location, preferably above or adjacent to the primary.
  • Consider flow rack or pallet flow for faster moving materials. You will be able to store more, it will be easier to replenish, and flow systems automatically manage FIFO for you.
  • If you are experiencing unexpected stock outs, consider using a computerized inventory tracking system, and set up a discipline to review all of your faster movers on a regular basis.
  • Consider replacing ladders with powered lift equipment - powered trucks and equipment can make your operation safer and the trucks pay for themselves quickly with labor savings.

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Technology of the Month: Voice Directed Operations  

Photo: Courtesy Vocollect
Voice Directed Systems are an alternative to RF scanner based terminals. Almost anything that can be done with RF scanners can be done with voice based solutions.

Voice technology has really blossomed in the past few years, but it has been around in the grocery industry since 1995. Today, voice is being used by big name companies like Wal-Mart, Office Max, Pep Boys, and Office Depot, and it is no longer limited to grocery. Many other large companies are seriously looking into the technology.

Now that voice systems have matured beyond case picking applications, they are being used effectively in broken case picking. Voice technology has been used to pick office supplies, general merchandise, garments, and even contact lenses! In many situations, voice is both faster and more accurate than competing technologies, including old standards like pick to light. For those not yet involved with voice, the question is why has voice become so hot in the past few years, and why did it take so long for it to be used for each picking?

The answer is that voice recognition technology has improved dramatically, to the point where it is 99.9+% accurate. Voice applications have expanded so that voice technology can now be used in job functions previously reserved for paper, RF scanners, or pick to light. Voice can often perform these functions at the same or faster speed, and with greater accuracy and safety. Voice is almost always less expensive, more flexible, and easier to deploy than pick to light systems. Finally, voice is a user-friendly technology, it is easy to learn, and easy to use. Folks who use voice for a short while, will tell you that they prefer it to other systems, and they frequently want to expand its use to other areas of the operation.

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Warehouse Management Consultants
a division of the Consulting Group, Inc.
P. O. Box 3126
Portsmouth, NH 03824
Phone: (603) 868-6767
Fax: (267) 295-8156