Thursday, April 18, 2013

Peek Ahead at the Peaks

Don’t let your supply chain run out of gas during peak shipping periods.

Nobody’s supply chain deals with an unvaryingly steady volume throughout the year. In virtually every industry, there are peaks and valleys.

Whether your delivery activity heats up for the summer growing season or before Christmas, when it does, you need to be sure your managers and your DCs are ready to handle the increased load. To ensure an adequate labor force, maximizing use of warehouse space, and having the right mix of carriers to keep your goods moving, advance planning is key.

Try to anticipate additional personnel requirements ahead of time, establish relationships with temporary staffing firms – preferably more than one – and have the details worked out before crunch time hits. Develop basic training procedures to bring short-term hires up to speed, helping them understand important safety and workflow information. You can increase throughput by adding shifts or adding days to the workweek.

Managers should be responsible for ensuring each necessary piece of equipment is serviced or upgraded and equipped with critical spare parts. Have plans in place to handle overflow materials. Contracting with a deconsolidation center can allow some items to go directly to their final destinations. Ideally, a WMS (warehouse management system) can show you how to make dramatic improvements in efficient utilization of space, especially important during peak periods.

Sometimes, even your most reliable carriers may be unavailable to meet all your needs. Try working with alternate carriers, to open communication and work out bugs ahead of time. As a last resort, know what your options are for expedited service, be it air express, team driver trucking, or a combination.

And make sure you have access to knowledgeable supply chain pros, who have faced these situations before.

Kirk Shearer
800-989-0054 x103

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