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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

Tracking previous trends
imageRecycling continues to dominate sustainability efforts at 76 percent. This year however, slightly more respondents are “reusing shipping containers” and “using metal and/or plastic pallets.”

Derewecki notes that he’s seeing more plastic pallets in use at pharmaceutical manufacturing because of FDA requirements. “Wherever you have a requirement of a sterile or cleanroom environment, then that’s one good way you can use reusable plastic pallets.”

Fortunately, fewer respondents (only 15 percent versus last year’s 28 percent) experienced catastrophic events this year compared to last year. Open-ended responses show many operations being hit by hurricanes and tornadoes; but to protect against these particular threats, survey takers have installed back-up generator and data retrieval systems, set plans in place to re-route demand to another DC, and have established multiple sources for parts and raw materials.

To reduce operating costs, “improving warehouse processes” (64 percent) and “improving inventory control” (61 percent) remains the top two actions preferred most by respondents. “It makes sense because both do not necessarily involve a high level of investment,” says Derewecki. “However, the better operators have already done all the process improvements that they can do without making capital investments. They are at the next stage. To improve, they may need to invest in mechanization and automation.”

About the Author

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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