We are in mid November and for many people this means that it’s the best time to start to thinking about who they’ll be giving a gift to and what that gift will be. If organized, they’ll set a budget and a timeline so they aren’t scrambling at 11 PM the night before in a dollar store for the perfect gift.
If you are working in a distribution centre however, the planning and preparation stage for your building/company would have started about four months ago back near the end of July. You would now either be in the middle or very close to peak season, meaning that your building could see an inventory increase of over 40%.
Given how close the holiday season is, there is likely not much that can be done if your distribution centre is only just now scrambling to put together peak plans for your building. Rather than this be a list of tips for planning a successful peak, consider this a quick checklist to determine exactly how rocky a peak your supply chain may have. As the saying goes,
“the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” – Robert Burns .
Filling personnel gaps
Does your distribution centre have the right people, in the right places, in the right numbers? Being in the peak season means that overall volume of your buildings will increase. The amount of items received and shipped will increase. The amount of items being stored and necessary space will increase. Quality control in your building’s processes will need to be increased. Even available security and janitorial personnel will need to increase in order to service the increase in personnel in other areas of the building.
What are your building’s plan for staffing needs? This is a question that should’ve been addressed early but now is a good time to review!
- How many temps have been hired, and what sort of tasks are they handling?
- Is there an incentive plan that pays bonuses for workers who excel during peak? If so, how has it impacted worker engagement thus far?
- Is your building’s staffing plan calculated to meet your service goals (orders/boxes per hour per employee, lines picked per hour per picker, etc)?. How closely are those goals being hit?
Winter is coming…
The holidays not only bring cheer and a spike in products traveling through supply chains, but also bad weather (if you are in North America). Even if you are located in an area where snow won’t affect your distribution centre directly, it doesn’t mean that your vendors, carriers, and customers will be safe from it.
- Does your building have a well-documented emergency plan in case of power outages?
- Does your staff understand the expedited transportation options available such as time-definite ocean transportation, air-sea, sea-air, and team-driver trucking service?
- Has your building tested Plan B carriers to see if there are any issues in utilizing them if your preferred carriers become indisposed during peak time?
Getting those evaluation sheets ready
No matter how well prepared and laid-out the plans for your distribution centre are, chances are there will be some area in which those plans fall short. It could be due to vendor mismanagement of inventory leading to out-of-stock of a hot item. Or underestimating the amount of returns and not having the staff post-holiday. Regardless of the shortfalls, it is important to have a system in place to track your performance and use labor statistics, order data, customer satisfaction scores, and inventory reporting to identify areas where you both shined and struck out.
This information will help you during future peak planning. Having an outside consultant come in and review the data with you post-peak. This help you think through necessary changes for next year’s peak season that you can begin working on as soon as the peak season has wrapped up.
That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news!