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May 15, 2012 | Joseph O'Reilly Tags: Warehousing In most warehouses, change is a constant—especially when you consider seasonal demand forecasts, supply exceptions, and inventory flows.
Distribution centers (DCs) are critical sense-and-respond nodes within the supply chain.
In 2002, United National Consumer Suppliers (UNCS) began as a wholesale distribution business that focused on manufacturer overrun and overstock.
One decade later, the business is on the list of fastest-growing private companies, and aims to capitalize on the e-tail revolution.
Warehouse management is about mediating variability so supply flows to demand as economically and efficiently as possible.
In today's consumer economy, however, the warehousing function faces its own external changes.
"ETP allows warehouse facilities to cut pick time in half," says Harris.
Sometimes it is difficult to see the warehouse for what it really is—a collection of pallet positions where inventory is put away and picked at varying frequencies.
The key to distribution efficiency is making better use of warehouse real estate, according to Terry Harris, managing partner, Chicago Consulting.
Harris' premise is that traditional zone picking and putaway conventions do little to increase speed or efficiency within a facility.
They force companies into using a protocol for prioritizing inventory that doesn't go far enough. "The theory is that every position in that zone has the same real estate value, but that's rarely the case.
"Picking makes up 70 percent of warehouse labor tasks, so that savings is a big deal." While the ETP approach doesn't increase or decrease capacity, it does distribute inventory and flow more evenly.