Reviving a Stalled Ramp-Up and Implementation

Case Study: Sports Apparel

A global athletic footwear company had moved their entire North American distribution operations from the west coast to a single facility with no contingency plan in place. After a failed go-live, the company needed a short-term emergency response team to support steering the DC operations back on track. The company was losing nearly $1 million per day in operating costs and lost sales potential, emphasizing the urgency for quick wins and sustainable continuous improvement activities. The original facility design was found to be unsuitable for volume profiles or product mix, and the critical operational roles still needed to be hired and trained.

Miebach’s primary objectives with this project were to support the client to a point where they were able to fulfill all customer orders by order channel and service level, establish clear communications through a PMO structure for efficient operational improvements, and identify the largest opportunities for improvement, both short-term and long-term. 

SWAT Solution

The Miebach Specialized Work Action Team (SWAT) approach provided guidance for quick wins as well as long term strategic initiatives in the engineering, operational management, change management, slotting, and standards development areas. The Miebach SWAT team was onsite full time for months to support the client with the critical immediate issues to be resolved while gaining a deeper understanding of how to design the long-term solutions. Physical re-designs of layouts within the facility were implemented to better align with volume profiles and inventory requirements. Miebach initiated a building expansion for new product launches and additional capacity. Introduction of new types of pick slots were added to increase pick locations, and a special events area was added that enhanced layout and equipment changes allowing cycle time reductions for one-time events.

Custom Tools and Training Support

Due to the facility's lack of robust processes and structure for pick area slotting operations, Miebach developed a custom Slotting Tool to identify the “optimal location type” for every SKU for immediate action. The tool gathered forecasted sales by SKU (previously not visible to DC team) to determine the optimal location size. It also became the driving force of the slotting operation, prioritizing SKUs and locations as needed. Upcoming product launches were managed within the Slotting Tool to ensure product would be located properly prior to launch.

Miebach also hired and trained Continuous Improvement personnel for the client to manage slotting in-house. Miebach established a LEAN operations management mindset with Miebach’s Operational Management Program instruction. This includes the 6 focus points of: problem solving & improvement, training & coaching, performance & visual management, team collaboration and communication, standard operating procedures, and productivity improvement. Miebach continued this by developing and implementing a formal training program using our Train-the-Trainer methodology. 

five colored gear shapes showing the interaction of facility design, slotting, operations management, standards development, and automation
five colored gear shapes showing the interaction of facility design, slotting, operations management, standards development, and automation


Miebach’s approach and presence led to project success and increased customer satisfaction. Within engineering & implementation there was an 80% cycle time reduction for Campaign (special & one-time events) through layout and equipment change optimization improvements. Automated manifest & carton closing stations were added for a quadruple throughput increase and Miebach designed the layout for the facilities expansion of 133K SQFT. Within the operations management, there was an increase employee productivity from 30 UPH to 75 UPH through time study analysis and ergonomic & pick cart improvements.

Miebach developed 10+ operational Trainers who supported the instruction of 400+ associates. Inventory accuracy improved by 100%, downtime and other NVA wastes were reduced, and 15+ SOP documents for (8) functional areas were developed to drive DC productivity. Miebach introduced and implemented Change management fundamentals and coaching for 12 Managers. The company's slotting management increased available ground pick locations by 91% through new slotting methodologies and created a custom slotting tool and SOP for the proper nightly execution of slotting activities.