UK warehouses waste 3000 hours a year on poor processes

By Freddie Pierce
Follow @Ella_Copeland Workflow performance company Intermec have discovered that UK distribution centres lose nearly 3,000 hours a year as a result of...

Workflow performance company Intermec have discovered that UK distribution centres lose nearly 3,000 hours a year as a result of unproductive workflows.

Using a survey base of 250 supply chain, warehouse and distribution managers, Intermec established that each worker loses 15 minutes of productivity per eight hour shift as a result of an inefficient process.

According to previous findings by Intermec, nearly eight out of ten warehouse managers have been tasked with finding an average 19 percent cost saving from existing operations. Despite a mounting pressure to cut costs and the need to find efficiency gains, UK warehouse managers admit to losing time and money through known inefficient workflows.

Most managers have been tasked with finding cost savings, however almost one in three (30 percent) have not conducted a review of the workflow processes in their distribution centre within the past year, however this is the first step towards identifying improvement areas.

Inefficient workflows

Over a quarter of the managers surveyed believe the most inefficient workflow in an eight hour shift Is inventory control (26 percent), closely followed by packing and unloading (20 percent) and picking (18 percent).

Companies that have recently conducted a workflow process review say that inventory control and picking are the two areas where cost savings could most easily be achieved.

Review resistance

Despite the potential to cut costs, research shows that companies who are yet to take action to increase productivity show high levels of resistance to carrying out a full review.  Most shocking of all in a world in which every customer’s business is hard won, and even harder kept, nearly one in five companies who say they will not review their workflow processes until after a customer complaint has been received.

Software solutions?

Nearly all respondents to the survey (94 percent) agreed that the key to achieving performance across the warehouse and distribution centre is investment in new technology, which would enable them to claw back lost time and ensure greater productivity/.

In addition, over three quarters of the managers surveyed agreed that ‘large time and cost savings opportunities can be found in gaining back mere seconds in operations workflows’.

Ian Snadden, VP EMEA at Intermec, said: “Warehouse managers are faced with significant cost saving challenges, which means they can’t afford to let such levels of time wastage continue. Businesses should be looking at every workflow in detail, on a regular basis, to claim back the minutes and seconds they need to achieve these savings. As this research shows, reviewing their technology infrastructure may be the perfect place to start.”

*Intermec research conducted by Vanson Bourne reveals that the average worker loses an average of more than 15 minutes a day / 58 hours a year / 8 working days year. Assuming a warehouse with a minimum of 50 warehouse workers, this equates to 2,899 hours a year.


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