Maximizing Distribution Center Velocity – Keeping up with Consumer Demand
Today’s consumer is becoming increasingly comfortable with buying everything from furniture to clothing to groceries online. And, most are shopping online for not only convenience, but for speed of delivery. This is not only true for the retail consumer but for the B2B consumer in need of a replacement part for a machine or office supplies. With an increasing expectation for faster delivery, improving distribution center velocity is crucial to staying competitive in today’s eCommerce landscape.
Distribution center optimization is a continuous process. So, where do you start? Below is a list of things you can implement to ensure your DC is operating at peak performance.
- Process Improvement – Companies cannot improve operational efficiency of their distribution centers without knowing how and when resources are being used and how materials flow through their facilities. Making even small changes can show big gains for your bottom line.
- Define/Analyze Current State: Do you and your employees know how materials get from point A to point Z? Define and document current processes to reveal gaps and redundancies that could be costing you time and money.
- Define What Success Looks Like: Once you have documented your current process and identified gaps and/or redundancies, define how to remedy. What does the ideal workflow look like? Does it need to be flexible to accommodate seasonal spikes?
- Document, Communicate, Execute and Regularly Review the Process: Ensure your updated processes are documented, communicated, understood, executed and reviewed on a regular cadence to ensure the process is working.
- Take Advantage of Overhead Space – Installing a vertical reciprocating conveyor (VRC) in your distribution center not only provides a safe and efficient way to move materials vertically, it allows you to reach an unlimited number of vertical levels, allowing you to expand up and not out.
- Featuring enclosed carriages, VRCs safely lift materials to two or more levels without the worry of loads tipping and falling as when lifting with a forklift.
- VRCs are compatible for use with new or existing pick modules or mezzanines and, are perfect for last-mile distribution centers that may be located in multi-level facilities.
- VRCs can be automated to work in tandem with horizontal conveyor systems.
- VRCs are compatible with AMRs.
- Training is not required to operate VRCs.
- VRCs can be designed for continuous, 24/7/365 use.
- VRCs are less expensive to install and maintain than freight elevators.
- Move Closer to Your Customers – If your distribution center is serving a regional audience, your customer is most likely waiting longer to receive their products or, paying an up-charge for expedited shipping. Establishing smaller, last mile distribution centers is key to getting your most wanted products in the hands of consumers faster.
- Partner with a Logistics Partner – When it is not financially feasible for your business to manage, build or purchase its own “closer to customer” distribution centers, third party logistics partners can handle the warehousing, picking, packing and shipment of product to your customers, all from locations that can enable next- or two-day shipping.
- Real-Time Access to Consumer Buying Trends and On-Hand Inventory – One of the biggest consumer dis-satisfiers is receiving a message that their product is on backorder. To ensure you can supply consumers with what they want, when they want it, you need a reliable, real-time way to understand consumer buying trends from all of your distribution centers so you can balance your inventory accordingly. Capturing data on customer behavior, inventory turns, and inventory movement will help you to keep inventory in the right DC at the right time.
This is just a short-list of things you can do to maximize distribution center velocity and meet ever-increasing consumer demands.
To learn more about how PFlow Industries VRCs can help your business maximize its distribution center velocity, read more about our VRC options or, contact a PFlow representative to discuss your specific vertical lifting needs.