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2012 Warehouse/DC Operations Survey: Mixed signals

A record response reveals that readership is divided in terms of investment: one side remains cautious, while the other is on the verge of making significant changes to their warehouse/DC operations. How have your operations emerged from the Great Recession?
By Maida Napolitano, Contributing Editor
November 01, 2012

“That’s a predominant statistic,” says Norm Saenz, senior vice president and principal of TranSystems, a supply chain consulting firm and our partner for this survey. “It supports how tough economic times have controlled spending to less than $250,000 for a majority of respondents. That’s only good for minor improvements to operations, such as racking or the purchase of a lift truck, versus opening a new facility or implementing new technologies.”

However, Don Derewecki, senior management consultant also from TranSystems, prefers to focus on the other end of the spectrum: those 17 percent of respondents who are spending $1 million or more this year, and another 16 percent planning to spend that same amount next year.

“That’s for significant projects—an indicator that companies are doing more than just replacing worn out equipment,” says Derewecki. “These stronger companies have diligent managers who have probably been continuously shaving points off their operating costs over the past few years. By now all the low hanging fruit is gone, so they’re starting to get more aggressive and finally looking to squeeze the trigger on investments in mechanization and automation.” 

Over the next few pages, we’ll dig into the high-level findings of the 2012 Warehouse and Distribution Center (DC) Operations Survey to share more detail on how the warehousing and distribution landscape has changed over the past year. This year we’ve updated portions of the survey to capture emerging trends while continuing to track the critical measures of warehousing activities we’ve charted over the past six years. Let’s see how your operations compare to what your peers are doing inside the four walls.

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About the Author

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Maida Napolitano
Contributing Editor

Maida Napolitano has worked as a Senior Engineer for various consulting companies specializing in supply chain, logistics, and physical distribution since 1990. She’s is the principal author for the following publications: Using Modeling to Solve Warehousing Problems (WERC); Making the Move to Cross Docking (WERC); The Time, Space & Cost Guide to Better Warehouse Design (Distribution Group); and Pick This! A Compendium of Piece-Pick Process Alternatives (WERC). She has worked for clients in the food, health care, retail, chemical, manufacturing and cosmetics industries, primarily in the field of facility layout and planning, simulation, ergonomics, and statistic analysis. She holds BS and MS degrees in Industrial Engineering from the University of the Philippines and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, respectively. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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