This process is extremely streamlined with a constant flow between the pickers and conveyance working together in harmony, which was (and is) the backbone of the B2B pick and pack department’s repacking operation. New shippers are erected and placed on conveyance, picking and filling snakes around and alongside four consecutive lanes of racks, and fulfilled orders leave the picking zone to head to the shipping department, where packing slips are added and box closing occurs.
“When you have an operation that is determined to work with flow, the operation shuts down without it,” says Terrell Jones, Operations Team Lead at the Charlotte facility. “While it worked initially, our company is growing quickly. And over the last two years, business has skyrocketed. For our operations to keep up with the increased demand, we had to make some necessary adjustments to the operations in the B2B pick and pack department. Not only did we need to figure out ways to increase throughput and efficiency, but we needed to figure out an improved way to get products to our customers in a timely manner.”
Enhancing conveyance configuration
Jones and his operations team saw an opportunity to increase throughput of the conveyance by expanding and reconfiguring the B2B pick and pack department’s material handling system, which consisted of gravity conveyors used to move the shippers on wheels or rollers. Jones recognized that this would result in exactly what he needed: to get more operators onto the conveyor line in the B2B pick and pack department and keep shippers moving smoothly. But that wasn’t possible in the existing configuration of conveyance and material handling systems.
“When the company moved from Canada to Charlotte, a lot of equipment was moved as well. In order to repurpose as much as possible, we utilized the same conveyor belt among other items when we redesigned the B2B pick and pack department,” Jones says. “To add complexity, our boxes have increased in size as the business continues to grow, so the belt was no longer large enough causing bottlenecks during the operation.”