The peak season is one of the biggest challenges for any warehouse and distribution network. High volumes, lack of staff and enormous pressure to meet targets. Simple solutions are often within reach.
Ensure proper planning. Not only Operations but also Purchasing and Sales departments. Be critical to the forecasts. Which methods have been used for the volume forecasts and are they relevant for your business.
Also think of emergency scenarios. What if volume xxx increases or decreases? How will you cope with illness? What if IT systems go down or scan or print equipment? This means that your business relations will also be discussed. Can they move along easily and quickly? But can you also easily hire temporary workers [pooling] Create a benchmark to identify peak performance in the process.
With staff once again scarce, this is one of the biggest challenges during peak season. It is important that the staff is well trained and routinized. Also ensure an effective onboarding process so that temporary staff can be quickly deployed in the right places. Cross training of staff is also always recommended. Make this type of process a structural one so that it is anchored in your organization.
Nothing is as bad as a WMS that fails, equipment that is malfunctioning. During peak season, this is dramatic. So test your equipment. Look at maintenance intervals and condition of equipment. Can your suppliers, especially ICT, respond quickly or will you end up in the service queue. When it comes to production machines, do you have the critical spare parts in stock and do you know which ones they are? You can also agree with suppliers to provide remote support.
Where are your bottlenecks? During average busyness bottlenecks will not appear quickly, but during high season they do. Do a performance audit on your processes. See which simple and quick adjustments you can make to reduce the bottleneck. Also look at the storage strategy you are using. Does it remain workable when things are getting ahead of you? To move goods quickly, consider creating fast pick lanes for fast runners during peak season. A so-called pasarelle in your distribution network or warehouse.
Are your procedures robust enough for high season. Not infrequently, corners are cut by staff during high season. Not out of ill will, but because they will do anything to get a shipment out. Shortcuts like these can cost you dearly later on. Think of loss of stock reliability, traceability or billing problems.
Procedures should be clear and simple and preferably directly visually traceable on the shop floor [Lean]. Don’t let work pressure keep you from following the procedures. Deviations from the process and procedure almost always lead to costly repairs in terms of both time and money. And that time is precisely what you do not have.