IWLA Canadian Council Fall Conference Targets Productivity in the Warehouse

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J.P. Joei, of Argent Consulting Group presenting on “Labor Management: A Critical Initiative to Help Drive Profitability,” at the 2013 IWLA Canadian Council Fall Conference.

The fifth-annual International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) Canadian Council Fall Conference was Nov. 13, 2013, in Vaughan, Ontario.

According to IWLA Canadian Council Chairman Brent Ellis, director of logistics and warehousing for Brofort, Inc., the 2013 theme, “Productivity in the Warehouse,” was evident. “All of the presenters left attendees with the understanding and appreciation of the sense of urgency in tracking and reporting on what takes place in the warehouse,” Ellis says.

The day-long event framed productivity as a byproduct of several key areas of the warehouse. For example, Argent Consulting Group representative J.P. Joei’s “Labor Management: A Critical Initiative to Help Drive Profitability” presentation identified four factors to consider in a work measurement program:

  1. accurate measurement of work, equipment, layout;
  2. leverage and integrate with warehouse management system technology;
  3. measurement of work performance track utilization; and
  4. process and methods review for best practices.

“The presentation provided a renewed perspective on how operators can learn about their employees, identify wasteful activities that drive costs,” Ellis says.

One item on the program agenda focused on “Warehouse Design for Productivity and Safety.” A Redirack represented provided an engineer’s perspective on how to optimize design and racks to reach full capacity in warehouse storage. With easy access and most potential for interchanging inventory, the first-beam level should be designed for product flexibility and careful consideration of the base plates and combining of manufacturers.

“[There is a] need for due diligence when setting up racking and purchasing to think about layout and travel areas, equipment and access points and compliance with Canada’s Ministry of Labor in the construction and inspection of racking systems,” Ellis says.

The final standout from this year was from Jamie Stephens of Liftow, presenting on “The Real Cost of Material Handling Equipment,” which provided a fresh perspective on resisting change in equipment. The first step according to Stephens is to identify your highest costs in equipment: labor, fuel, repairs, tires, downtime and poor utilization.

Also interesting was the comparison of internal combustion-powered handling equipment fuel costs from electric powered equipment: It costs approximately $20 per shift to fuel a propane-powered forklift where as it costs $2 per shift to power the same-sized battery powered forklift.

Ellis has advanced to entirely electric-powered forklifts in his warehouse. “The upfront costs are more but the longevity of electric power and low maintenance costs pay off in the long run,” he says.

To see the complete list of speakers and download the event presentations visit the IWLA Canadian Council.

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