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Increase Efficiency and Reduce Costs in your Warehouse

June 8th, 2012

An increase in efficiency will usually lead to an increase in profitability, which is everyone’s ultimate goal in business.  Knowing that you can’t improve what you don’t measure, it’s critical to analyze what’s currently being done in your warehouse.

To do this, you may want to conduct an operations audit to systematically look at your labor, work flow, systems and facilities and determine how you’re performing in some key areas. Ask yourself the following questions:

How is your space being used?  One of the biggest culprits in lost profits is an inefficient use of the cube. Receiving, picking, packing and shipping tend to use up to 50 percent of your space, with product storage taking up the rest.  Using racking, a multi-level order picking concept and power conveyors can increase your effective use of your cubic feet.  Can a simple reconfiguration lead to more product storage?

Can you reduce walking time?  As much as 70 percent of a worker’s time can be spent walking.  Reducing this number will increase orders picked per hour.  Consider establishing a system in which you can store at least one week’s average unit movement in the pick slot as well as a “hot pick” area for extremely fast movers.

Are you taking full advantage of the power of bar codes?  Demand consistent bar code standards from all your vendors, so you can utilize them throughout the process to track products, verify accuracy, speed up processing and eliminate paperwork.

Are the products available when pickers need them? Use a combination of scheduled replenishment of the primary pick slot, utilizing the min-max and demand-replenishment concepts to ensure consistently available inventory levels.

Is your warehouse neat?  Organization and neatness organically increase productivity and worker morale.  Get rid of obsolete equipment.  Keep everything in its place.

Are you flexible?  As it becomes increasingly difficult to predict the future, your flexibility and scalability will be the keys to your survival and growth.   This will allow you to effectively respond to changing requirements, such as merchants increasing their SKUs or changing the types and sizes of items they offer.  Are you allocating space for future growth?

Do you know where all of your inventory is located?  Sound silly? It’s a significant shortcoming if your system does not allow for multiple locations of inventory to be shown.  For efficient operations, your warehouse inventory system must be able to identify what SKU is stored in each location, as well as the quantity of each.

Does your staff know how they’re doing?  The simple act or measuring and reporting key metrics to your workers will improve efficiency.  People like to know where they stand and want to succeed.  By giving them this feedback you will see an uptick in productivity.

Are your vendors meeting your needs?  Because so much of what you do depends on what your vendors do, enforce a vendor compliance policy on everything from bar code standards to packaging standards.  This will prevent you from incurring additional labor costs to repack or re-code products.

This auditing process should remain an ongoing initiative to continuously measure and improve your productivity and efficiency, and thereby your profitability as well.

Want another way to save money and increase efficiency? When you need reliable workers quickly and affordably, call on the staffing specialists at ERG Staffing!

Is E-Learning the Future for Your Employees? Using online learning to improve your workplace safety and productivity

May 31st, 2012

Safety and compliance training creates the foundation for a productive work environment and is therefore vital to your overall safety program. What’s an easy way to ensure that your entire workforce receives consistent, documented safety and compliance training? Have them do it online!

If you’re interested in implementing an online safety training program, start by asking the following questions:

  • What is the best way to help meet the goals of the safety plan?
  • How can material be presented so that workers will understand and retain information?
  • Where would be the best learning environment?

An Industrial Focus

According to research by Malcolm Knowles, an expert in adult learning theory, the success of online training for the adult industrial worker depends on a number of important elements:

  • Clear learning objectives – Ensures the worker knows up front what is going to be accomplished during the training session to understand how this learning applies to them and the overall quality and productivity of their daily lives.
  • Content that is focused on the stated learning objectives – Once the learning objectives are clearly stated, the training presentation must follow the learning objectives. E-learning courses that are segmented into lessons and course pages with clearly defined titles can help facilitate this organization.
  • Content tailored to the students – The reading and comprehension level of all students must be taken into consideration for learning content. The content should accurately represent scenarios that are applicable to the industrial work setting and demonstrate to workers best practices to improve their work environment and personal safety.
  • Interaction between students and the training curriculum – The training curriculum must be engaging. By including video segments, animations and graphics, and narration that matches the on-screen text, workers receive an interactive and complete learning presentation.
  • Application of knowledge in real or typical scenarios -True interactions, those that go beyond a simple Q&A format, are critical to the success of the e-learning course.

Further Benefits

What are some of the other benefits of online training? It eliminates the expense and inconvenience of bringing the instructor and all students to the same place, It also allows for flexible training schedules to accommodate production times and work shifts. Online training creates a self-paced learning environment that allows the adult learner to begin applying knowledge and experience during the course of learning, resulting with higher concentration and retention of material.

Are you interested in learning more about how to create and present a safety and compliance training program? Or would you like to hire employees who have been prescreened and already trained? Call ERG Staffing today to find out what we can do for you!

Successful Resumes for Light Industrial Positions

May 24th, 2012

You may think a well-written resume isn’t important when you’re applying for an industrial or light industrial position.  After all, they’re not hiring you for your writing skills, right? Well, that may be true, but they do need to see the skills, experience and training they’ll want to hire you for—and the best way to make sure of that is to make sure your resume is written right.

Tips for Resume Writing

For industrial positions, you need to pay attention to what the company is looking for in the ideal candidate—and show them that you have it. In other words, tailor your resume for each application you put in. It’s easier than you might think!

For example:

  • Change the order of your skills and experience to make sure the most relevant are at the top. For many industrial positions, these are the factors that matter the most. Get them to the top of the list to make sure they’re getting maximum exposure.
  • Brainstorm for a few minutes. Ask yourself what makes you a better candidate for the job than anyone else and why an employer should hire you instead of the competition. Make sure these factors are included on your resume.
  • List your qualifications and skills plainly. Depending on the experience and training you’ve had, you may be able to make a significant point just by creating such a list. Don’t exaggerate, but talk about the skills you have that are important specifically to the job you are applying for.
  • Do list the positions you’ve held in the resume. Depending on your experience level, you may have a large number of positions. List only those with the most importance or those that show how versatile your experience is.
  • Keep your resume clean and organized. Don’t use overly long paragraphs or too much wording. Keep it clean by using short sentences, bullets and brief statements. This allows the most important details to stand out.

One last tip: when applying for an industrial position, create a customized cover letter to go along with your resume. Let your cover letter show the prospective employer that you do have an idea of what he or she needs and why you feel you are a good fit for the position. A cover letter is a great place to also communicate that you may have skills outside the job’s requirements but within a company’s needs.

Looking for help creating the perfect resume and cover letter? Contact our staffing specialists for job seeking advice and more! We can help you find the job best suited for your needs and skills.

Increase Your Warehouse Productivity with a Strategic Staffing Plan

May 18th, 2012

By keeping your warehouse working efficiently, you can improve productivity. And you can improve efficiency by purchasing current equipment and maintaining safe and comfortable working conditions—and by controlling your labor costs.

Labor is your first or second largest expense after outbound freight, and successful staffing practices can lower that cost.

Strategic Staffing Makes It Easy

Nearly every organization is being challenged to do more with less. To succeed, flexibility is key—especially in your staffing strategy. Flexible staffing is critical for operational efficiency and adaptability. It can help you manage your workload, meet strategic objectives, and fill gaps in your workforce.

Managing Your Workload

  1. Administrative and Low-Priority Tasks

Boost the productivity of your core staff by allowing temporary employees to handle the administrative and low priority activities.

  1. Unexpected Increase in Workload

Many organizations are running lean only to be caught short-handed with an unexpected peak. Hiring for what could be a brief spike is risky, so use temporary help to meet the rise in demand without committing to permanent hires.

  1. Seasonal Cycles

Preparing for anticipated peaks can be just as difficult. Whether seasons, holidays, or other factors affect your business, adapt to demand fluctuations by bringing in extra help only when you need it.

Meeting Strategic Objectives

 1.       The Unknown

Every strategic plan is subject to some uncertainty. If the road ahead is unclear, use temporary staff to keep your workforce flexible. Bring in the labor and expertise when your business needs it and avoid the expense and problems caused by over staffing.

 2.       Expertise on a Short-Term Basis

The contingent workforce includes many employees and many positions including light industrial and clerical individuals, to IT specialists, and other professionals. These individuals not only cover short-term staffing needs, but they can also bring valuable expertise to the table. They can teach new skills to your organization without the cost of a permanent hire. Bringing in someone with specific experience can save you time and money by shortening the learning curve for a new process.

3.       Special Projects

Concerned about a project bringing down productivity? Bring in temporary employees to help directly or to provide support to the people working on the project. Keep daily operations running smoothly and get the project done on schedule.

Fill in Gaps in Your Workforce

 1.       Short-Term Need

Relieve the stress of employee absences by bringing in temporary support in cases of illness, vacation, maternity leave, or other leaves of absence. Don’t forget to prepare for the holidays, with their overlapping vacations and the increase in personal and sick days.

2.       Immediate Need

Take the pressure off your hiring process by bringing in a temporary to fill in immediately. This will allow you the time to find the right replacement. And if you’re satisfied with the individual, your search may be over before it even starts!

Flexible staffing can actually bring stability to your workforce by easing the stress of peak demands, while allowing you to operate lean. The right staffing strategy can be your way of doing more with less.

How to Find Great Employees Before Anyone Else Does

May 10th, 2012

We all want to hire superstars—those employees who are motivated, proactive and ready to help your company grow. But stars are very particular about the opportunities they take. After all, they can afford to be choosy.

So the question is, how do you bring star performers on board if you aren’t offering a dream job? The answer is, you go for the people who aren’t stars yet. You learn how to identify them before they realize their full potential.

How? Here are five ways to recognize star performers before they become stars.

1. Look for a Mediocre Student

An impeccable academic pedigree isn’t always a plus. Straight-A students often spend their 20s experiencing shock that the workplace doesn’t reward rule followers like school does. Some mediocre students understand what matters and what doesn’t—and they’ll kick into high gear when performance is about salary and not grades. Also, find out what they were doing besides studying. Were they working? Volunteering? Otherwise expanding their horizons and their skill sets?

2. Find Someone Who Reads

It doesn’t matter what they read. But unproven hotshots spend a lot of time reading because they have a natural curiosity and appreciate learning. It’s true that not everyone is a reader, but this is an odds game, and you improve your odds of finding a diamond in the rough by focusing only on readers.

3. Check Their Myers Briggs Score

People can only be stars in a field that matches up with their Myers Briggs score. An ENTJ, for example, absolutely has to lead. And an INFP can’t manage other people—when it comes to managing corporate goals and mediating other peoples’ interpersonal issues, an INFP is not who you want.

4. Be a Counselor and a Mentor

Often, younger employees feel lost because the work world is not what they expected. They’re looking for someone to guide them. If you do, you can get the kind of work out of them that no one else can. If you promote career development, you can turn a so-so job a dream job.

5. Force Failure Fast

Give the person responsibility. See if they balk. Even if they don’t, they’ll fail. Failure doesn’t matter because you’re there to clean up after them. It’s part of the investment you’re making in them. But you need to be able to judge failure: Did the person ask tons of questions while they were messing up? Also, do they want to try again? People who are destined for huge success know how to accept failure as a learning process.

And this is also true when it comes to finding hotshots. It takes a lot of patience, and you will often guess wrong. But like all failure, it’s worth it, because it comes right before grand success. And the excitement of finding a star performer before anyone else has is incredibly rewarding.

Want more information about finding the right people for your organization? Contact ERG Staffing today!