Challenge: A client was concerned that the manning levels of their ambient warehousing operations were not optimised and that the shift balancing and working practices were suitable for a highly variable and unpredictable seasonality.
Approach: A detailed survey of the operation was conducted with in-depth discussions with local management and warehouse staff to understand the "living" operation - warts and all. Further to this, thorough observation of the operation was undertaken to include practices, methods and layout. Detailed receipt, despatch and picking information was modelled according to peak and trough activity. Detailed resource modelling according to the recommended and the best retained methods was possible using specially derived standards. Output for each day of the year for each shift enabled the accurate resource profile to be seen for any point of the year. Overtime or additional temporary labour commitments were then derived and scenarios run to determine optimum shift patterns and core staff requirement.
Conclusion: A true picture of the operation's seasonal fluctuation allowed the client to make informed decisions about how to absorb major demand variations cost effectively by following advice on blending short term contracts and flexible hours agreements without adverse impact on site productivity. Costs were reduced by lowering the previously high levels of overtime.