Before you answer, did you consider both your inbound and outbound docks? Advanced technology is very apparent on the outbound docks at warehouses, DCs & 3PL operations. From narrow aisle racking to voice picking, robotics to automated conveyor systems, much consideration has been given to increasing efficiency and productivity. If your outbound docks are futuristic and rooted in technology, how would you describe your inbound docks? Has the same consideration or investment been made to this area or do you have 30 feet of inbound dock space that has remained fairly untouched?
The fact is most organizations have not introduced technology or innovation to the front end process. The question is why?
HEALTH & SAFETY:
Is the safety of outbound dock workers more important than inbound workers? Of course not. The safety of all workers is paramount. The expense associated with worker injury, including medical, short or long term disability and insurance rates, not to mention possible fines, makes it crucial for organizations to ensure workers have the proper equipment & knowledge to effectively perform their duties safely.
Perhaps technology has not been introduced to the front end process because workers are more efficient than outbound dock workers. This is not a reasonable assumption. Focus has merely been put onto increasing outbound productivity. So what do most inbound docks use?
While some DCs have introduced extendable belt conveyors to assist in the removal of floor-loaded product, most workers use a simple step stool as an aid. This process is definitely not rooted in technology. It is neither effective nor efficient. It may take workers up to 8 hours to unload one 53’ trailer. In addition, productivity may decrease when multiple SKUs are introduced. In addition, the ability to expedite a HOT container effectively is a challenge. Depending on the weight and size of product being unloaded, the process may be physically straining for workers. With all of these negatives, unloading trailers using a step stool continues to be the traditional, accepted method used by many inbound docks.
Most organizations are not decreasing their inbound operating costs. In fact, costs are either stagnant or rising. If your organization has realized efficiencies by introducing technology on the outbound side, now is the time to give your bottom line a boost. Focus your attention on reducing inbound costs and give your warehouse or DC a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
So, what is on the market that can reduce these costs? As noted before, there are extendable conveyors. Some are on rails allowing coverage of multiple doors, but many are anchored to the floor and serve only one door. In many cases, workers are still required to lift product up onto the conveyor.
Unloading a container of floor-loaded product is a physically tasking job. If organizations invest in machines or systems which ergonomically aid in unloading product, higher worker retention may be achieved.
The Destuff-ITTM is an ergonomic assist for manually unloading floor-loaded product from trailers & containers. The Destuff-ITTM optimizes a worker’s positioning to a box wall. The operator drives this self-propelled machine into the trailer or container. Each Destuff-ITTM has an integrated DC drive and steering system capable of negotiating dock leveler slopes and transition plates. When standing on the operator platform, the worker is able to raise or lower him/herself to the box wall and then, by using the pivoting conveyor, can easily transfer product onto the conveyor. The worker’s proximity to the box wall significantly reduces the amount of twisting, reaching and lifting required to move product.
In addition, by optimizing the worker’s positioning to the box wall, users can achieve faster unload times. Greater throughput means more trailers can be unloaded each shift and because there are more trailer turns per door, operations may see a reduction in the overall number of doors required. Busy DCs and 3PL operations can realize even greater productivity as the robust construction of each Destuff-ITTM makes it ideal for multi-shift operations.
In addition, by making simple adjustments to a receiving dock’s layout, many 3PL and DC managers who have introduced a Destuff-ITTM to their operation have realized productivity levels greater than 50%. In addition, many customers who receive multiple SKU shipments have witnessed a greater ability to sort product, which has translated into a reduction in errors/costly rework.
While organizations realize productivity gains using a Destuff-ITTM on a regular basis, significant savings are also realized during seasonal peak periods because overtime hours are reduced.
Recently, one of our customers passed along this fun fact. Using their Destuff-ITTM, the customer was able to unload a 45’ high cube containing 4,900 cases of multi-SKUs, palletize the product, receive everything into their WMS system AND inventory the product on their racks – all in 60 minutes. In this example, the customer allocated 10 workers to the process. In the past, a container this size and case count would typically take 2 workers 8 hours to unload plus, the time it takes to receive & store the pallets into inventory.
This example show how flexible the Destuff-ITTM can be to an organization, as well as the following financial gain:
10 people x 1 hour to unload x $16/hour burdened labor rate = $160/container to unload
2 people x 8 hours to unload x $16/hour burdened labor rate = $256/container to unload