West Monroe helped the client get closer to their goal of doubling meals served by improving facility utilization, optimizing processes, and maximizing efficiency of its volunteer and employee workforce.

The Challenge

Optimizing internally to double external impact

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank (the Food Bank) is a nonprofit organization that has been dedicated to eliminating hunger in southwestern Pennsylvania since 1980. They are striving to increase the number of meals served to 58 million, nearly doubling their current output, and want to focus on restructuring the space they operate in, as well as revising their staffing and labor strategy to accomplish this goal.

The Food Bank and West Monroe focused on three key areas to optimize the distribution center and produce a roadmap with actionable items to address these opportunities:
  • Capacity: Determine the current space utilization and validate the accuracy of the warehouse capacity model to project future utilization
  • Productivity: Determine current selection capability, employee utilization, and overall recommendations for increased productivity
  • Labor Planning: Examine current scheduling process to find opportunities to gain labor planning efficiency

This roadmap identified opportunities to provide an immediate increase in space utilization and efficiency and an increase in capacity with current staffing levels. Additionally, it provided 20+ future project opportunities to improve productivity.

The Solution

Improvements identified

West Monroe conducted three focused studies to review each area of the Food Bank’s facility, staff, and operations. Our recommendations included:
  • Elimination of cross aisles and non-inventory from the receiving area to make space for additional active and reserve slots
  • Switch to one-way selection paths throughout the dry warehouse to reduce travel time
  • Staff a single shift each day and schedule to labor demand
  • Stagger driver start times to reduce dock congestion
  • Slotting guidelines to prioritize larger and faster moving SKUs in the selection path to eliminate wasted travel
  • Update layout for shop-thru area to increase shopping efficiency and reduce shrink

The Impact

Boosting productivity to reach goals

West Monroe was able to document seven opportunities focused on the layout and processes that would directly improve experience of working, volunteering and shopping at the Food Bank. With an optimized, single shift and staggered start times, the Food Bank would see a higher utilization of their current staff and a decrease in congestion throughout the facility. By reconfiguring the selection paths and streamlining the aisle arrangements, there will be a decrease in selector travel and delay due to non-value-added communication between employees. The proposed layout of the fresh produce shop-thru area improved the customer experience for agencies by making it easy to find quality foods for their communities while improving operational efficacy of the Food Bank staff. Simply put, our suggestions would allow the Food Bank to provide meals at a faster rate, improve employee labor planning, and optimize the space in their current facility.

At the end of our assessment, the Food Bank was presented with a roadmap that would help them increase space utilization by 40% while remaining in the current facility for 3-5 more years, realize a 35% productivity boost, and ultimately serve as a guide towards the realization of their meal serving goals.
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