Warehouse and Distribution
The introduction of own brand tile products at Instarmac had brought with it a change in the type of orders received
The new range required the building up of a pallet from a wide range of SKU’s, compared with full pallets for existing products. This manual process had many opportunities for error and required 100% checking of picked pallets.
Data showed that there were errors on 2.5% of all pallets and there were still customer complaints for incorrect deliveries.
100% inspection of pallets for 3 months showed a 0.25% error rate (90% reduction).
The pick list order did not match the physical layout of the items in the warehouse.
Item layout did not match the order in which a pallet was assembled
Products had similar packaging making identification difficult
Order processing issues
A cross-functional team led by ourselves mapped out the picking process to identify sources of error and make changes to working practices to bring about a 90% reduction in error rate overall
Identifying sources of Error
A Value Stream Mapping exercise gave those involved a better understanding of the picking process and highlighted potential opportunities for improvement.
They included issues such as the pick list order not matching the physical layout of the items in the warehouse and the item layout not matching the order that a pallet was assembled in. Products had similar packaging making identification difficult and pallets were left part picked resulting in duplication and missing items
Lean Tools & Techniques
Lean Thinking and Error Proofing
Application of standard tools and techniques allowed steps to be taken to improve the process:
Items were stored in the order that a pallet is assembled, the picking note modified to match the warehouse layout. Orders are picked in full so that there are no errors due to part picked pallets and additionally a hand pallet truck is used to minimise the room needed for storage. Visual Management was used to clearly identify the locations of different SKUs and changes to product packaging have been made to make product identification easier.
Inspection of pallets over a 3-month period revealed a 90% reduction in error rate
The improvements made removed the need for any checking of pallets after 6 months. The steps taken to achieve this were:
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