Are you Double Handling?

Double handling is the action of completing processes more times than necessary, and in any environment, this is pure waste. Chances are that handling in the first instance is probably waste as well, in that it isn’t something your customer would either value or pay money for. In a warehouse environment you can double-handle many things, including paperwork, products, pallets and consumables.

Examples of waste in lean logistics

The more steps that are used to complete a process prolongs the amount of time it takes to actually complete the process – and when there are external stakeholders relying on the efficiency of the warehouse this is something that needs to be avoided. Typical causes of double-handling include:

1. A poor warehouse location system
2. Inefficiency in processes
3. Lack of clear communication between warehouse operators and other departments
4. Use of the incorrect equipment for the job
5. Lack of storage space

Any of the above causes present potential for double-handling and therefore an inefficient workplace. This could impact a business greatly, as it can lead to late orders, poor pick accuracy, a bad customer experience and loss of business.

Improving warehouse efficiency

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 step?

If your team members need to go to a central labelling station to print and collect labels, this will create a lot of wasted time: time-in-motion to get the labels, waiting-time while team members socialise 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 reduce this wasted time is to consider using mobile label printers and move to labelling just-in-time (when you pick the item). Cutting out double-handling will save you time, improve the workday and more importantly help your customer.

Improving efficiency

Fortunately there are many technologies your business can employ to boost efficiency, reduce costs and eliminate errors including wearable devices and automated systems.

One of Australia's leading packaging suppliers achieved a 40% reduction in the picking times for the warehouse workers with the implementation of wearable devices and reducing double handling.