Productivity Blueprint
Understand the “size of the prize” for distribution center productivity improvement
Date : February 12, 2016
Our workforce optimization productivity blueprint establishes a road map for targeting and realizing improved distribution center productivity.
A sound starting point
To realize sustainable productivity improvement in your distribution center environment, you first need to know where you stand today. 
  • When did you last review work processes, methods, and metrics?
  • How utilized are your people, and how equipped is your front line supervision to proactively manage their performance?
  • Do your people have the right tools and training to perform at 100-percent—all the time?
  • Have any recent changes affected associates’ ability to do their jobs?
  • Is your staffing allocation correct?
  • How effective is your incentive pay structure and design?
If you are ready to chart your path to productivity improvement, we can help. Our Workforce Optimization team blends the science of engineering with the art of people to help our clients—some of the world’s largest and most complex operations—optimize their workforces and processes from engineering through execution. The bottom line: 15 to 25-percent improvement in productivity.

We use a proven and accurate approach to determine current and potential productivity levels in your distribution center environment by calculating and compounding three areas that drive your productivity (“P”): utilization (“U”), methods (“M”), and performance (“P”). We call this a “PUMP” assessment. Your productivity index combines:

  • Utilization—the portion of clock time during which associates engage in productive work. We conduct work sampling during predetermined intervals for each shift, capturing the amount of time each associate spends on work and “non work” (lost time).
  • Methods—the effectiveness of work methods and procedures associates use to complete work. We identify primary tasks performed by the team using a Pareto analysis. During observations, we then identify and quantify improvements for each process. Using stop-watch studies and MOST, we calculate a current and improved process times and use the differences between them to calculate an overall methods rating.
  • Performance—associate skill and effort levels. We observe each associate while engaged in productive work and combine all associates’ performance to calculate an overall performance rating for the team.

For example, a PUMP assessment calculates a distribution center’s productivity index as follows:

  • Utilization = 74%
  • Methods = 96%
  • Performance = 96%
  • Overall productivity = 68%
This means that for every 10 scheduled hours of productive work, the distribution center realizes 6.8 hours of actual productive work. This benchmark allows us to calculate the “size of the prize” and plot a practical course for improvement.

Here’s how our assessment works
Our analysis examines all activities within the walls of your distribution centers using a combination of observations, surveys on handheld devices, interviews, and corporate data. Typically, it covers an array of specific tasks, including shipping, receiving, putaway, forklift operators, yard personnel, loaders, supervisors, and clerks.

Our analysis includes:
  • An index of associate productivity (see front page)
  • Performance management, including manager capabilities and effectiveness, current management challenges, and tools utilized
  • Work flow and use of preferred methods, including effectiveness of product slotting
  • Process, methods, and metrics used to evaluate operational performance
  • Methods for labor planning, scheduling, and staffing
  • Incentive pay structure design and execution
Your productivity blueprint
Our PUMP assessment provides a clear understanding of where you stand today—and much more:
  • A productivity blueprint that quantifies your potential for increasing throughput, freeing labor, and reducing costs
  • Recommendations for improving productivity in areas such as standards development, preferred methods and incentive structures
  • A road map for closing the productivity gaps
  • Recommended performance metrics
  • An idea log with quick wins

The best part: we can deliver a Productivity Blueprint quickly—typically in six weeks or less—so you can begin your path to capturing the “prize” of greater distribution center productivity.  For most of our clients, that means double-digit improvements in efficiency and operating cost.

From engineering through execution
To move from engineering through execution, your workforce needs the right conditions to succeed. We work with you to identify opportunities to optimize labor and reduce complexity while enhancing customer experience by looking at areas such as:
  • Work methods and processes
  • Technology support
  • Engineered labor standards
  • Front-line effectiveness, including staffing and training
  • Execution management
  • Continuous improvement
  • Environment, including safety and risk mitigation
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