A recent survey by Logistics Management found that nearly fifty percent of respondents were changing rack layout configurations this year to lower their operating costs. This represented a significant increase above the forty-one percent of 2012 respondents who modified layouts for the same reason. According to the survey, the “rise in smaller orders and e-commerce” has created a need for many companies to create more pick slots. Admittedly, that’s a situation many companies face, but how can it be done without interrupting your day-to-day business?
Coordinating changes to existing layouts requires a lot of planning and communication. New facility sites and projects which can be performed on weekends or during facility shutdowns are certainly the least complicated to coordinate. However, many times the scope of the project requires the reconfiguration to be done during your ongoing flow of business. Below are 5 steps to help ensure your project goes smoothly.
1. Clearly Define Project Scope. It is critical that the project scope is clearly defined before quotations are solicited.
2. Conduct Pre-Quotation Meetings. To ensure the vendor’s understanding of your expectations and requirements, pre-quotation meetings should be held on complex projects. Mutual understanding must be reached on such topics as working standard versus “off” hours, which party will unload and subsequently reload the rack, where will transitional product be staged, what existing racking can be used in the new configuration, will the new racking be interchangeable with the existing components, what forklift or pedestrian traffic will be in the area, who provides dumpsters, as well as identifying any special considerations.
3. Conduct Pre-Project Meetings. Upon vendor selection, a pre-reconfiguration meeting should be held with representatives from all involved parties. Your organization should select appropriate managerial and operational contacts while the vendor should include the project manager and/or site supervisor who will be working the project. The purpose of this session is to confirm all parties are “on the same page”. Your project manager and the reconfiguration site supervisor should also jointly tour the area once again to identify potential challenges which may exist.
4. Require a Project Timeline. Once the start date and duration of the reconfiguration have been confirmed, a timeline noting milestones throughout the reconfiguration should be provided by the vendor. You should receive confirmation on the size of the reconfiguration crew as well as the hours and days they will be onsite. For larger projects having multiple phases or exceeding two or more weeks, a schedule for formal progress reports should be created. Knowing actual progress versus project timelines throughout the job avoids late “surprises”. If the project is performed in phases, each phase should be inspected and approved upon completion while the vendor is still on site. Corrective services should then be performed in an acceptable time frame.
5. Require a project completion sign-off. Once the reconfiguration has been completed, a written sign-off ensures both parties agree the project was completed. The vendor should then provide “As Installed” drawings for you to utilize going forward.
Reconfiguring a warehouse design can often lead to frustration but if you choose the right partner and have an open flow of communication it can pay dividends for your operations. Fortunately, proper planning and execution allows companies to realize the benefits of increased efficiency.