Cutting the Cost of Double-Handling

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In today's changing and competitive workplace it can be a struggle to keep up with everything that needs to be achieved in the day. Time seems to be against you. Continuous Improvement and Lean practices can help remove some elements from the day-to-day activities that your customers don't value – even some processes that could actually impact on them negatively.

Double handling is pure waste. Chances are that handling in the first instance is probably waste as well - something the customer would not pay money for. You can double-handle many things in a warehouse, including:

  1. Paperwork – Always leads to double handling.
  2. Products – How many times to pick a product up and put it down for storing or picking and packing an order?
  3. Pallets – How many times do pallets get picked up and put down, can you reduce this?
  4. Consumables – Do consumables have a set location where anyone can find them quickly and handle them a minimal amount of times?

Examine your current procedures and brainstorm ideas with your teams to find solutions to reduce the number of times they deal with these double-handling culprits, or even whether you can eliminate them all together. For example, does a team member pick a product and then pass it to another team member to pack it? Instead, can it be picked and packed in the one process?

Having your team members go to a central labelling station to print and collect labels will create a lot of wasted time: time-in-motion to get the labels, waiting-time while team members talk at the printer, as well as potential errors if the wrong label from a pre-printed batch of labels is applied to a picked product.

A simple way to improve this wasted time is to consider mobile label printers and move to labelling just-in-time when you pick the item. The print command can be triggered from a variety of devices, such as an iPod touch or mobile computers.

Cutting out double-handling will save you time, improve the work day and more importantly help your customers.

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