How to Make Your Pick & Pack Processes More Efficient

Your picking and packing processes have a massive impact on your customers. They get their item in good condition, on time, and they get the right item.

Or, they don’t.

No process is ever perfect. But you may not have the level of accuracy you want. If that’s the case, here’s a few ideas you might take a look at more closely:

  • What Process Do You Use to Pick the Right Pieces?

The simplest form of picking, “Piece Picking,” is when you send a worker to fulfill just a single order. It’s easy and straightforward, but also the least efficient.

With “Batch Picking,” they fulfill several orders at once. “Zone Picking” is even more efficient than both, and is when order pickers each have their own assigned zones. They pick from their zone, and that’s it.

“Wave Picking” is the most efficient human picking method. In this case, employees have zones where they batch pick, fulfilling multiple orders at once.

Automated picking, which is when a conveyor or automated storage brings the order to the picker, is the most efficient. But it’s also quite expensive.

  • Storage Strategies

Do you store your items in the most efficient way possible? Random storage works just like it sounds – you put your products wherever they fit.

Volume-based storage ranks items by demand and stores them closest to packing stations.

With class-based storage, you put items in certain areas based on demand, but then within any open space in that area.

  • Don’t Just Optimize Picking

Coordinating with other teams at your company can be hard. But, it’s necessary if you want to drive the maximum efficiency possible.

Your picking and packing processes must integrate with receiving and shipping. And at an even higher level, these need to work together with your company’s entire supply chain.

Consider how well this works together with your company’s existing culture, and if your company is prepared to deal with all the changes of the newer and more efficient processes you create.

  • Assign Your Items to the Correct Storage Media

Slow moving product shouldn’t be placed in pallets, and fast-moving product shouldn’t go in shelving bins. Measuring how fast product moves from its storage sheds light onto what type of storage it should be placed in.

Since around 50% of wasted time is spent on travel during pick-and-pack processes, this represents an excellent opportunity for time and cost savings.

These are far from all the ways to consider for improving your pick-and-pack process’s efficiency. But, they’re a good start and represent your first opportunities for big wins.

Need to optimize your pick and pack processes? Call Pollock at 855.239.5153 today.

GOJO Pioneers Hand Cleaning and Reduced Employee Sick Days

At first, you may feel tempted to take handwashing not all that seriously. But it is a problematic issue at every organization, and sometimes for the reason just mentioned.

In the medical industry, for example, around 100,000 patients die each year because of infections caused by poor handwashing techniques. Imagine what the numbers could be for work days missed due to your employees simply not washing their hands like they should.

Suddenly, GOJO’s mission doesn’t sound as silly as it first seemed. It’s quite an important one. And besides helping you and your employees stay healthier and be more productive, you could be saving lives. It’s interesting how something so seemingly small and insignificant can have quite a large impact in the world.

Here’s a couple of things about GOJO that you should know:

  • Their Obsessive Dedication to Handwashing and Clean Hands

You just heard a little bit about it. But, let’s go into even further depth. They actually have a whole blog dedicated to handwashing. One of their recent blogs outlines research that shows cool water works as well as hot water for removing germs.

Their blog also reveals their strong stance that handwashing needs to be monitored using automated technology – not just supervisor observation (because it’s relatively ineffective).

Wow!

  • GOJO Makes Purell

You’ve certainly heard of Purell, or you’ve seen the label. You know what it is and what it does. GOJO made the Purell brand officially in 1988. Actually, it had been in the works for decades already because founder Goldie Lippman constantly came home with her hands stuck full of graphite, carbon, and tar from the tire manufacturing plant she worked in during World War II.

Purell became a consumer brand in 1997. And in 2006, GOJO invented the touch-free wall and counter-mount dispensers you’ve likely used many times since.

In 2010, Purell took even another step forward by becoming the world’s first green certified hand sanitizer, according to Ecologo. The hand sanitizer is now made with naturally renewable ethanol in a readily biodegradable formula. To top it off, Purell also meets USDA’s BioPreferred program for biobased content. And it’s actually a part of a portfolio of GOJO Green Hygiene Solutions.

You just can’t beat GOJO’s Purell in terms of performance and environmental friendliness. And that’s why you’ll find it when you choose Pollock.

5 Top 2017 E-Commerce Trends

What are consumers doing online? What do they struggle with? What do they like?

You know e-commerce changes rapidly. So what are consumers thinking right now?

Find out some of the strongest e-commerce trends below:

  • Missed Mobile Sales May Be Your Greatest Opportunity

Is your website optimized for mobile users? As you know, they account for most traffic and online browsing. Wolfgang Digital found about 59% of all sessions on e-commerce sites happen through mobile devices.

They analyzed more than 80 million website sessions and $299.64 million in revenue to make their findings.

…And even though mobile accounts for most traffic, it makes up just 38% of revenue. This trend actually grew as the cost of the purchase increased.

Wolfgang Digital found that truly, people do their research on smartphones and make their purchases on desktop. So, you must provide an experience that keeps them engaged across multiple devices.

  • Special Day Discounts Are Coming to An End

Big holidays like Black Friday or Cyber Monday are actually coming to an end. So many discounts are available that consumers are used to always having a way to save.

So, just a single day is no longer enough. Shoppers are beginning to expect you to have sales available for a whole month (Cyber November, for example).

  • Personalization of the Shopping Experience

Will this trend ever stop being a trend? Personalization is hard to do because it requires an intimate understanding of your customers and how they shop.

At a very simple level, your website might have a “People who bought this also bought…” once they add an item to their shopping cart. Depending on your business, you might also personalize based on geography, market trends, or your shopper’s demographic.

  • Same-Day Delivery

Amazon has deliveries down to 2 days. But they don’t have it down to same-day delivery (yet).

How fast can you deliver to your customer? You shouldn’t rest until you can do it same-day.

  • Do You Integrate AI into Your Marketing?

Have you ever seen those ads that “follow” you around the web? Have you ever noticed where you see the same one for a product you already purchased?

AI may put an end to that this year. With AI integrated into your marketing, your e-commerce site will learn exactly what makes each customer type tick. Then, they’ll get a message that resonates with them perfectly.

There’s many more trends than these. But we’re confident these will play a big role in e-commerce in 2017 and beyond.

Want to improve the sales you get from your e-commerce? Call Pollock at 855.239.5153 today.

How Do You Evaluate the Quality of Your Supply Vendors?

No successful business gets that way on its own – especially the bigger companies. You need help from vendors who can offer supplies and services that you don’t have expertise in.

How do you choose the best vendors for your company? In some cases, they’ll have national reputations that make them obvious choices. In others, the decision won’t be quite so clear.

And you’ll always want to hold your vendors accountable for their performance. So here’s what you should remember as you evaluate vendors:

  • Establish Your Own Performance Indicators…And Share Them with Your Vendor

Before you evaluate your vendors, you need to determine what criteria they need to meet to help you succeed. Share these established criteria with your vendor so they know you’re holding them accountable. If conflict should arise with your vendor, then you have a written document to refer to so you can settle any disputes.

  • What Will Your Own Evaluation Method Be?

You may have dozens of employees who have contact with your vendor. How will you gather data from them all so you can form an accurate appraisal of your vendor’s performance?

You could also do your own audit based on your previously established criteria. You may email your employees a survey with questions that gather the data you want. You may invite representatives from your vendors to your headquarters to meet with them and do a review.

  • Set a Baseline for When You Choose to Complain to Your Vendor

It makes more sense in business to stick with the same vendors as long as possible. Changing vendors frequently makes your business life stressful and unpredictable.

For your particular vendors, give them praise and constructive criticism on what they’re doing well and what could be done better. If the performance slips to anything bigger than a small matter, then you must have a tough and honest conversation with your vendor.

You’ll have to define what a “small matter” looks like for your company’s department.

  • Give Poor-Performing Vendors a Chance to Fix the Situation

No company’s perfect. And it makes more sense to hold onto your vendors if possible. When you see your relationship heading south because they’re not meeting deadlines, notify your vendor as soon as possible. Call them. Put them on notice. Give them a deadline to fix their actions.

If they don’t meet what you need by your proposed deadline, then you have to cut ties.

Vendor relationships aren’t always easy. But they’ll be much easier to manage when you apply these four points to your evaluation process.

3 Challenges Food Processors Face Transitioning to E-Commerce

The entire food manufacturing industry generates around $760 billion in revenue in the US. And everyone’s shaking now that Amazon has officially acquired Whole Foods.

Amazon doesn’t dominate the food and beverage e-commerce market…yet. So the whole industry’s holding its breath to see what Amazon does next.

You may be considering the transition to e-commerce. Or maybe you’re in the middle of it and struggling with some stumbling blocks.

It’s not easy. Food processors and manufacturers are still relatively new to e-commerce. So they’re all still trying to figure out how to transition, and make the most of it.
Here’s some common challenges. You may face them right now…or you may see them lying just ahead:

When to Make the Transition

In general, the consumer market expects to be able to get what they want when they want it, delivered the way they want, and at the price they want. The company who meets these demands wins the business.

Long-term relationships with businesses are no longer important. The time to make the transition is as soon as possible.

Which E-Commerce Platform Makes Most Sense?

Leadership needs to take the time to get familiar with what customers want, and which e-commerce platform delivers on those best. Some points to consider include:

  • Whether customers want faster and easier purchasing options
  • If customers prefer to serve themselves, interact with staff, or both
  • If your company operates on a “just-in-time” basis and needs to replenish its own inventory on short notice
  • How quickly your company needs to respond to unexpected competitive challenges

Dealing with Internal Reactions to the Transition

Change always meets at least some resistance. Some of your employees and leadership won’t be thrilled with the idea of integrating e-commerce into your operations.

You can mitigate resistance and build more support by educating your leadership and employees about the benefits of the new e-commerce platform. You may also discuss with them why staying the same and doing nothing threatens your existence. Finally, if your staff has noticed a dip in sales or fewer customers, you can show your lack of e-commerce integration could be a reason why.

Companies That Adapt and Change Thrive

Few people or businesses initially like the idea of change. But, remember, your market determines what happens next. Meet their expectations, or exceed them, and you’ll be just fine. Stay the same while they change, and you’ll fall by the wayside.

If you need help making the transition to e-commerce, contact Pollock at 855.239.5153.

4 Most Frequent Causes of Packaging Inefficiency

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a product by its package. Or, at least that’s what consumers often do anyway.

Your packaging processes need to be spot-on. If they’re not, you run up your own costs and lose some of your competitive edge to other companies.

The great companies do all the little things right. What do they do in relation to their product packaging?

Here’s what you need to analyze so you don’t fall behind:

Underestimating the Impact of DIM Pricing

Estimates typically find shipping the exact same product using DIM pricing versus traditional weight-based pricing costs you 30% more. There’s many solutions to this problem, although optimizing your packaging could be one of them. You may replace weak, shallow cardboard boxes with stronger corrugated cardboard, for example.

If you don’t have the time, or team, to analyze your packaging, you could always consider looking for outsourced help.

Not Taking the Complexity of Packaging Efficiency Seriously

Packaging products has become almost ridiculously difficult because of the explosive growth in e-commerce. There, you have hundreds of SKUs, even more possible combinations of products, and they have to be matched by a packer to just a few limited box types. That packer, by the way, is under pressure to produce.

Here’s what ends up happening: a large portion of the box volume isn’t used. Your customers receive items that clearly look like they haven’t been cared for. And that reduces the chances they’ll order from you again.

Clearly, this is difficult to optimize on your own.

Not Realizing Market Demand for Sustainable Packages

Consumers are increasing their demand for sustainable products. Petroleum-based packaging like polystyrene is going by the wayside. And this is especially happening because sustainable packaging now has similar costs to petroleum-based packaging.

You can even get better performance in less space with some types of sustainable packaging.

Thinking You’re Operating All Alone

A change in packaging can affect a surprisingly large part of your company. Say you change one product’s packaging. That affects the size and type of carton used for packaging, the amount (and maybe type) of materials used. That also affects how this product stacks on pallets, as well as how it moves throughout the rest of your supply chain. Since this also changes appearance, you may also need to include sales and marketing in the process.

What seems like a simple change may be much more difficult than you realize.

There’s numbers of other problems that cause packaging inefficiency. Call Pollock at 855.239.5153 for solutions to your packaging challenges.

How a Dependable Brand Keeps Your Company Operating Smoothly

Ever hear of this company called “3M?”

Of course you have. They’ve been around since 1902. Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing has not only stayed in business for more than a century, but continues in its position as one of America’s most iconic brands.

They now have a $126 billion market capitalization and $30 billion in revenue to show for it. They do operate somewhat in mining technology, but they’re mostly known for creating indispensable products like Scotch tape and Post-It notes.

3M’s history involves an amazing story of innovation. That’s why they’ve been able to not just hang around for more than a century, but thrive and remain one of the top companies in the US today.

With their quality, reliable business and office supplies (over 55,000 different ones), their customers have been able to keep smooth business operations this whole time. Employees never have to worry about their supplies. They focus on their jobs instead. And they know they’ll always be able to do so.

Pollock Does the Same – And More

We’re not quite as old as 3M, but we’re close. Did you know we were founded in 1918? 2018 marks a full century of reliable service.

Not only do you get the cleaning, packaging, and office supplies you need, but you also have expert industry consultants who do custom consulting for your business. You can get custom consulting for cleaning and maintaining your facility, maximizing the efficiency of your operations, how you package your products, how you manage your office supplies, and much more.

Our distribution centers located in Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Wichita Falls, Atlanta, Charlotte, Fresno, and Jamesburg (New Jersey) mean 90% of the country gets supplies in two days or less. Canadian companies are well within our distribution network also.

In business, you know no one succeeds alone. If you tried to do it all by yourself, you’d make many more mistakes, waste money, and spend years figuring your way forward. That’s why it makes sense to have a partner you can rely on. A company who’s been around for a long time, served many industries, and has the knowledge and experience necessary to help you quickly achieve your goals.

In business, it just doesn’t get any better than knowing you can call your vendor and have exactly the solution you want and need every time. And that’s why you should add Pollock to your short list for evaluation today.

What Makes Dart Solo’s Disposable Food Service Supplies So Great

When you consider your food service supplies – wait a minute do you? Or, do you just look at the price?

It’s easy to minimize the quality of food service supplies. That is, until you start to have problems with yours.

Even though many are only one use, they may fall apart before you even get that first use out of them. Or they’re not made right so those who need to use them can’t fit the volume of food or drink they want inside them.

It’s frustrating for your employees and customers when simple things like these go wrong. Because then, they end up with food on their clothes and feeling embarrassed.

Even something small and seemingly insignificant, like your food service supplies, requires help from an excellent food service supply vendor. Dart Solo is just such a company.

Founded in 1937 by William F. Dart, when it started producing plastic key cases and identification tags for the military and children’s toys, Dart has now also acquired the Solo Cup Company (as of 2012), which doubled the size of the overall company to around 15,000 employees.

Why Are Dart Solo’s Food Service Supplies Superior to All Others?

Dart Solo’s key to success has been the fact that it owns the entire production and supply chain. That literally begins with the production of raw materials and ends with the recycling of the used product. This allows Dart Solo great control over costs, quality, and service.

The company also maintains a strong focus on excellence, efficiency, listening, reliability, and service. Today, if you’ve used any single-use cups, dinnerware, cutlery, straws, or deli containers, you’ve likely used one produced by Dart Solo. They’re the leading company when it comes to production of high-quality, single-use food service supplies.

And to top it off, they keep a high focus on their environmental impact. Today, Dart Solo reduces the amount of material needed to manufacture their products. They reuse heat from their cup-making process to heat their own facilities. They use clean scrap to make more of their own products. And the recycled foam from EPS #6 gets sold to manufacturers of picture frames and other consumer household products.

Dart Solo does even more than that, but you can clearly see their strong commitment to environmental health.

Pollock sells Dart Solo products for all of the reasons just discussed. When you purchase single-use food service products from Pollock, you can rest assured you’re getting the best available – without any of the most common problems you could possibly experience.

4 Production Efficiency Problems Manufacturers May Have

How efficient are your team and production processes? Do you use IoT technology to optimize your production efficiency?

No matter how good you are, you could likely do something to improve. And maybe you have a lot of room for improvement.

See if any of these problems sound familiar. Look at them as a starting point for increasing your production efficiency:

  • You Don’t Handle Raw Materials in the Most Efficient Manner

Raw materials are the biggest financial cost in your production processes. Do you track all the energy you input during your production process, as well as the weight, volume, and temperature of your raw materials?

Do you analyze the product yields, waste, and downtime that occur? What bottlenecks occur with your raw materials as they go through the production process?

  • Your Packaging Costs Are Typically Higher than Necessary

For many manufacturers, packaging systems are almost always one of the greatest opportunities for increases in efficiency. Technology in this area has advanced rapidly in recent years, which means you could easily be behind even though you’ve upgraded somewhat recently.

Leading companies are producing machinery that automates more of the packaging process. And, since many new packaging materials are fairly expensive, this presents an opportunity for great cost savings.

  • Your Equipment Has High Downtime

Manual, semi-automated, and automated equipment all breaks down eventually. The question: how long will it be down at your plant? For example, you might have a torque gun that requires highly charged batteries to do its job. Not only can it take you time to charge the batteries when necessary, but if it operates on less than a full charge, this can lead to loose assembly. That could cause huge issues in product quality, and eventually, angry customers.

The solution lies in creating preventative and predictive maintenance plans.

  • You Have Poorly Designed Production Processes

Production teams and assemblers need to communicate and be on the same page. If assemblers routinely aren’t meeting cycle times, you may have to stop production while you wait for them to catch up. This can also lead to misassembly or incomplete assembly. And like before, this causes product defects and angry customers.

Those aren’t all the problems with production efficiency that you may experience at your manufacturing plant. However, they are some.

Not as efficient as you should be? Call Pollock at 855.239.5153 today.

Does Your Hospital Have Difficulty Stocking the Right Supplies?

In recent years, many hospitals have been forced to carry lesser inventory to improve their profit margins. “Just-in-time buying,” as it gets called, is a practice that’s gaining popularity because it controls supply-chain costs.

On the negative side, however, it’s possible this puts patients in a compromising situation. For example, a certain medical implant isn’t in inventory the night before a patient needs surgery.
So, the surgery has to be rescheduled for a different date.

Not only is that stressful and inconvenient for the patient, but it costs the hospital more money to move the patient to a new location where the needed supplies are available. At the same time, the cost saving from carrying just enough inventory can really add up for hospitals.

Some experts believe supply chain departments spend too much time negotiating better prices. Instead, they’re better off focusing on replenishment, waste elimination, and overall efficiency. Automotive companies can do this much more effectively because they can predict customer demand. However, health conditions have no known season, so it’s nearly impossible to predict exactly how much of any particular inventory you need to keep on hand.

Opponents of just-in-time buying will, of course, point to the fact that you’re jeopardizing people’s health by trying to balance your on-hand inventory with patients’ needs. The solution? It may be analytics optimization. As you gather data, you can more accurately understand what products should be kept on-hand for various procedures. This includes procedures with unpredictable demand.

You May Need Help Managing Your Healthcare Facility’s Inventory

Even sophisticated hospitals have difficulty balancing demand for medical products and the amount of inventory they need to keep on-hand. It’s wise to have an accurate understanding of what you typically need, along with a cushion just in case you have a surge for demand.

But it’s not easy to track and manage your inventory. However, with the advent of IoT, this is likely to become much easier.

And Pollock can help you keep accurate track of your healthcare facility’s inventory. Call 855.239.5153 to learn how today.

4 E-Commerce Distribution Challenges You May Face

How does Amazon do it behind the scenes? They currently sit at $427 billion in market cap. Walmart’s currently at $227 billion. CVS accounts for nearly $82 billion. Costco’s at $75 billion. And Target remains at $30 billion.

How has Amazon, an exclusively online retailer, been able to keep customers so happy? One of their secrets is rapid delivery. If you live in a metropolitan area near one of their distribution centers, you get nearly everything in just a couple days, even if your quoted order arrival date is a week later.

Amazon certainly rocks at distribution. And they keep problems like these to a minimum:

  • Staying Proactively Ready for High-Volume Times

    You can’t predict all big movements in sales volume. But, some, like certain holidays, you know will come. For example, that could be the rush from November 1st (which typically begins the exciting building for Black Friday) to December 20th.If you sell lots of recreational merchandise, this could be when the weather starts to warm up in spring in the northern states. Or, it could be the coming back-to-school season.
    Is your warehouse or distribution center ready for big jumps in sales volume?
  • Finding a Successful 3PL Partner

    3PLs can appear like a good solution to help you manage your warehouse. However, they can cause logistical issues of their own.For example, if you’re a tenant in multi-tenant distribution center, the 3PL balances the needs of all tenants, rather than making yours a priority. 3PLs also don’t necessarily have the most robust IT systems available. Finally, 3PLs aren’t always prepared to handle surges in volume, which can lead to an increase in expedited shipping costs for your customers.
  • Relying on a Network of Distributors

    Some retailer’s e-commerce operations are designed such that they don’t have the physical product on-hand in their own distribution center. Instead, they use a network of distributors to fulfill these customer orders.
  • Do you do this?

    It’s not necessarily bad. But it can lead to a number of logistical issues involving pricing, paperwork, policy compliance, and delivery times.
  • Overseas Manufacturing Is Less Viable Than In the Past

    The current presidential administration doesn’t support foreign manufacturing as America has in the past. Public sentiment has also followed to a certain a degree.You may have used overseas manufacturers to cut costs. But how will that change with the current presidential administration’s policy?

With the rapid change in e-commerce distribution, it’s not easy to keep up. Call Pollock at 855.239.5153 to make sure your e-commerce warehouse or distribution center optimizes your revenue.

6 Most Common Problems Manufacturers Have with Lead Times

Top manufacturers have their lead times down to near perfection. With so many factors affecting lead time, it’s easy to completely lose control of it. That only leads to disappointed and angry customers, and lost profit opportunities.

What are the typical problems most manufacturers have? See if any of the below sound familiar:

  • Stock-Outs

    How often do you find yourself without the necessary parts to manufacture what your customers need? You could have underestimated what you need to do the job. Maybe you’re having issues with suppliers.Regardless of the cause, you only lose time and money.
  • Lead Time Variability by Vendor

    To complicate manufacturing, you have different lead times with various vendors. Unsure when various parts will be delivered, you have a near-impossible time coordinating production. You could find yourself with too much or too little inventory at any given time. Excess inventory chews up your budget and available physical space.
  • Unpredictable Shipping Delays

    Say an earthquake or flood happens in the region of the world or country where you order certain parts from. How are you supposed to predict or account for that? And you may not always be able to find a nearby supplier. In addition, nearly any supplier is susceptible to human error.While you can’t eliminate risk, you can certainly minimize it.
  • Market Demand

    You can’t always predict customer demand. You could produce a certain part for customers now in just a few days. Three months from now, the exact same request could take several months to fulfill if you have high demand from your customers. Or, maybe your company begins business with several new high-volume customers.In addition, that means suppliers could be running with high demand too. That could mean your company doesn’t get the parts you need when you expect.
  • How Well a Part Fits Your Operations

    You’ve tuned your manufacturing processes so you can produce a certain range of parts with high quality and great efficiency. Then, you get orders you need to fulfill which fall outside that range.Depending how far outside of your scope they fall, they can take much longer to produce.
  • Disorganized Inventory

    If you have all parts on-site, and manufacture some of your own, it’s easy to assemble the final product. However, many manufacturers have disorganized inventory. Stocking surplus parts works good to help you through material shortages, but it can also backfire if you’re not organized enough.

Manufacturing’s not always easy. Your processes may not be running as efficiently as they should so you have the lead times your customers need. Call Pollock at 855.239.5153 today to learn how you can optimize lead times…without harming product quality.