A well-known manufacturer of active outdoor apparel, with a distribution center in North America was nearing the end of its lease. Faced with multiple concerns about their ability to meet their 5-year planning horizon goals, they requested assistance from Miebach Consulting to evaluate the existing facility, propose changes to operational procedures based on business needs, and provide a recommendation for renewing the lease or selecting a new location. Due to the impending expiration, Miebach and the client needed to work quickly to find answers.

Three primary concerns were identified as the core of the transformation:

Increasing staging areas for both inbound and outbound – This is a frequent issue in warehouses, and insufficient space for staging can cause a domino-effect of inefficiency that impacts all areas of the facility. 

Eliminating storage of mixed load units – Mixed pallets caused a great deal of difficulty in a facility of this size. A new strategy needed to be identified that is space-efficient yet more accessible.

Improving picking efficiency – Multi-order picking strategies had traditionally worked because it was feasible in a smaller warehouse and picking was only for retail or wholesale orders. The growth of e-commerce orders in recent years, however, made this strategy extremely inefficient in the larger space that was now required.

After a thorough evaluation, Miebach had outlined a solution that would relieve all of these pressure points.  Due to the time constraints, it was recommended that the client use a phased approach to implement the changes. 

First, they moved to a new facility that allowed them to customize the space and layout to accommodate growth and future improvements.  Because of the upcoming peak season, the decision was made to move the operations as-is and wait to implement equipment and procedural changes during a valley in productivity, but to make the switch from mixed pallet to single carton storage immediately. This approach also allowed the client to spread out the necessary investment for the overall project.

Once the peak season had passed, the layout and procedural changes were initiated.  The space was reconfigured to optimize flows, and automation was added in the outbound area with a sorter.  Finally, the transition from multi-order picking to batch picking was implemented, which not only increased the picking efficiency, but also eliminated redundant quality check processes.

To date, the client has achieved multiple results from the transformation, most notably:

  •  Increased ability to prepare and manage peaks and e-commerce events
  • Improved labor performance with enhanced warehouse arrangement and workflows
  •  Increased internal quality control standards for time and accuracy

The results from the changes made to the facility and operations strategy have exceeded the client’s projections and expectations. They’ve increased efficiency and flexibility in all order fulfillment areas – for retail stores, for wholesale partners, and for e-commerce clients.

For further information about this project, please contact Bastian Himmeroeder at himmeroeder@miebach.com