Is it the bottleneck of your operation? Throughout the duration of the inbound and outbound operations, any single hiccup from the inbound operations can compromise the successful execution of the operating plan and could very well affect customer service in the end. Two critical ingredients to preventing these hiccups and executing consistently and efficiently are utilizing a concrete operating plan and thorough management of the inbound workforce. These items are essential to the operational efficiency of the dock and improved production of the entire front end.
Managing your Dock.
Managing the inbound loads and assuring adherence to the unload schedule set forth in the operating plan affords management the opportunity to create and execute an accurate staffing plan for the inbound operation. An optimized unload schedule must consider various types of inbound loads. For example, drop loads (loads sitting in the trailer yard) provide operational flexibility since they are available for unload at any given time, whereas “live” loads arrive at specific planned times and must be unloaded immediately upon arrival.
Once a detailed unload schedule has been created, proper yard staffing must be ensured. Yard staffing issues often create bottlenecks that compromise the effectiveness of the entire downstream operation. Now that you have conquered the unload schedule and yard staffing, you are now able to accurately staff the inbound operation based on the unload schedule. An example of this is staggering the start times of receivers and forklift operators. Staggered start times based on the unload schedule ensure the optimal amount of labor is planned within each function of the inbound operation.
In many inbound operations, a significant amount of labor is contracted out and managed by a third party. Oftentimes this is called a “lumping service” – associates who unload and break down pallets to the correct dimensions .Controlling the staffing and execution of the operating plan in this case can be very challenging. Proactively addressing contracted operations is critical to the overall success of the inbound operation. Communicate often with contracted supervision, and ensure their full knowledge of the unload schedule. Ample staffing in this critical upstream function enables successful execution of each function downstream.
The dock is the heartbeat of an entire facility. A proper job setup as described provides a clean dock and is the foundation for overall success in your operation.
Read Part II in my blog series that discusses job setup.