in Task Optimization
Why waste 60% of travel time dead-heading in the warehouse?
By interleaving tasks, one may save valuable manpower and improve
productivity significantly. Interleaving is also known as multi-tasking,
where a warehouse worker is directed by the WMS to perform tasks
(putaway, replenishment, count, pick) based on location within
the warehouse and what types of tasks that this user & equipment
is configured for.
Ackerman has written an excellent article on Multi-tasking
and is on our white paper section. Ken's research indicates 50
to 60% of travel time is wasted and by implementing a WMS (with
multi-tasking turned on) that it would reduce this waste by 10
to 20%. That is significant!
An easy item to start with is Opportunity Cycle Counts (OCC)
with picking. Two types of opportunity cycle counts exist. Type
1. When the last item is relieved from the bin, then automatically
prompt the worker whether there is any left in the bin, when it
is time to count that item. The picker is already at that bin
to pick the item. A simple additional prompt on the RF handle
with a single Yes or No response. Type 2 is similar to Type 1,
but is an opportunity count upon small quantity in the bin. When
the picker has pulled the requested quantity and the WMS requests
the picker to indicate how many are left in the bin. Both type
1 and type 2 are done only when it is time to count the sku. Consider
OCC with picking, replenishment, and move tasks.
The best WMS solutions will let you configure which types of
tasks that can be interleaved. Perhaps you want to permit
a worker to be allowed to replenish, putaway, and count within
his designated zones. While a new worker would not be allowed
to multitask, until properly trained. Another warehouse worker
is allowed to use his forklift for pallet picking, move, and putaway
for a small warehouse operation. Warehouse configuration and size
does make a difference. Some WMS solutions only a limited mixture
of tasks to be interleaved, while others permit a full mixture
of all types of tasks.
After the basics are there and one is now efficient - Go
to the next level! Optimized Interleaving is already in
the experienced minds of consultants and WMS designers. Jeroen
van den Berg, a WMS consultant in the Netherlands, has written
Paper called Dynamic Scheduling for extremely busy warehouses.
With dynamic scheduling, the WMS observes the progress in the
warehouse in real-time via RF communication. Subsequently, the
WMS decides each time which task an operator must carry
out next by taking both urgency
as well as efficiency into consideration. The example case
presented shows how an intelligent WMS further optimizes the warehouse
operation with just in time replenishments and dynamic pick locations.
Note: Most WMS will -not- have this dynamic scheduling capability
- only a few of the best WMS will do this.
Save time & money by reviewing white papers, building a strategic
plan as a team, and then implement your strategies on how to be
task efficient with task urgency. Bring in outside consulting
help if needed.
Author: Philip Obal
About the Author
Philip Obal is President of Industrial Data & Information
Inc, a research-consulting firm that assists companies in searching,
evaluating, and implementing software for their business. He has
designed software for over 25 years and written multiple books.