The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has had a major impact on the supply chain as companies have had to change both their storage and picking operations to get purchased goods in the hands of their customers.
This has brought on new challenges as many workers are now doing the “shopping” and there is much more material handling which requires some immediate attention to get changes implemented to efficiently address supply chain order storage and fulfillment. Many retailers especially smaller companies are implementing Ship-from-Store (SFS) systems to fulfill orders from a store closer to the customer rather than a centralized distribution center so that customer experience lower shipping costs and get their products faster.
These are some of the material handling considerations to help assist with supply chain order fulfillment:
- Material Handling Equipment – by adding some MH equipment such as order pickers, pick shelves, packing stations, powered hand trucks or gravity conveyor allows companies to do something right now as it is easy to implement(within weeks, not months), easy to adapt to handling changes and does not require additional resource burdens.
- Micro-Fulfillment – this allows the ability to shrink the footprint of a warehouse or distribution center by bringing the product closer to the picker and ultimately the consumer it serves. Some of the products and equipment that can assist in achieving micro-fulfillment and space optimization techniques are Speed Cell, Span Track lanes, Flow Cell, Roller Racks, Carton Flow tracks, Gravity Flow Racks, or Modular Picking Carts to name a few. Optimized storage spaces enhance workflow productivity, increase picking speeds, and improve accuracy which in today’s environment is critical to meet demanding turnaround times.
- Ergonomics – this is a very important area as want to ensure that workers are safely able to handle all the increased material handling needs. Adding ergonomic equipment such as pallet positioners, lift tables, turn tables or self-leveling carts can help make product moving, stacking, loading, or unloading much easier and help eliminate any worker injuries.
- ROI – when implementing the above material handling products and equipment, companies can easily measure ROI investments within months, and during these challenging times this could be a huge benefit to both companies and their customers!