COVID-19 has impacted life as we know it in more ways than we could have imagined. Now, with talk of the global “pandemic” becoming an “endemic,” it looks like some of the changes we have experienced are probably here to stay. What does that mean for your warehouse or manufacturing facility? 

This blog will discuss several observations we’ve made in regards to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the impacts on warehousing and manufacturing, and why these industries should adopt a LEAN, efficient warehouse as we navigate the ever-changing global pandemic.  

Feeling like your business needs to “catch up” with market trends these days? This blog is for you. Eager to stay ahead of the competition during these cut-throat times? This blog is for you, too.  

Why adopt a LEAN, efficient warehouse during the global pandemic? 

1. Costs are up. For everything.

When supplies are scarce, costs increase. We’ve been seeing evidence of this around every turn. Prices have increased for everything – from transportation costs to raw materials to hourly labor rates.

Yes, we realize the dichotomy of recommending that you invest capital into automating your operations when times are already tough. It absolutely has to be a careful balance. But, when done right, some small investments can – and will – pay off big.

For instance, consider the volume of costly errors that are made in each area of your facility (receiving, cross-docking, put-away, picking, packing, shipping, etc) on a regular basis. Mobile computers, handheld scanners, mobile printers and RFID not only prevent these pricey mistakes, but also improve efficiency so much that you can receive substantial returns on those initial investments. 

A LEAN warehouse positively impacts your profits, all while keeping your operational costs to a minimum and easing the management process.  

2. Online sales have skyrocketed.

Managing a supply chain is tricky enough for a small brick-and-mortar facility. Throw the higher volume demands of eCommerce into the mix and it’s almost impossible to remain invulnerable to the challenges. According to a June 2020 Forbes article, eCommerce and BOPIS (buy online, pick-up in store) accelerated during the first few months of the pandemic at rates that would have typically been expected over a 4 to 6 year time period. We’re seeing consumers who want it all, and they want it all NOW. Whereas delivery times were once measured in weeks, acceptable times are now measured in days, or even hours. Goods are moving quickly, so the numbers of SKUs that must be managed (sorted, put-away, picked, packed, etc.) are at an all-time high. Often, rather than shipping large pallets to storefronts, consumer goods are being picked, packed, and shipped individually. And don’t forget the influx of customer returns to process. Automation can equip fulfillment centers to keep up with the expedited pace, shift their operations and maintain the flow of goods. 

A LEAN warehouse significantly contributes to improved speed, order accuracy, and overall customer satisfaction. 

3. The labor pool has diminished and distancing measures are still in effect.

When it comes to your workforce, there are two main factors in play. First, we are seeing that in almost every industry, businesses are facing a worker shortage. Help wanted signs are posted everywhere and it’s hard to fill those vacancies.

Second, within your work environment, physical distancing is still encouraged, whether it be in the form of one-way aisles, designated work spaces, strategically spacing workers throughout the facility, ensuring your team is vaccinated or all of the above. In many cases, this mindset has led to a reduction in the number of employees working during the same shift. How can your company thrive without the manpower you’ve traditionally relied on?    

A LEAN warehouse is built on the elimination of waste, including labor hours. Real-time visibility helps you to quickly recognize when your employees are underutilized and have the potential to do more. The training required is minimal and the equipment is easy to both implement and manage.  

Why adopt a lean efficient warehouse during the global pandemic?
IoT for Manufacturing

In a time when businesses are forced to manufacture and ship high-quality products quickly, without fully staffed facilities, and without the supplies they need to get the job done, your company doesn’t have to become obsolete. L-Tron is here to help you keep your costs down by examining each aspect of your business. We will work with your team & focus in on key areas like; transportation costs, delivery times, suppliers, inventory policies, workforce retention and efficiency.

Our experienced team will take the time to fully understand your current processes, your needs, and your goals before recommending a solution. Our customer service and 100% quality promise is second-to-none. You’ll be working with real people who truly want to help you. 

While the word “automation” may sound intimidating (and expensive), we can help you used a phased approach (think ‘baby steps’) to cut costs, increase efficiency, and keep your customers satisfied. Despite the tough times we’re all facing globally, it IS possible to create a profit center, rather than a cost center.