Same Day Delivery Part 3: Labour Deployment Strategy

February 3, 2014

Last week we looked at Network infrastructure strategies that support same day delivery. This week we look at ways to manage personnel towards the same goal.

Labour Deployment

Now that we have our SKU ducks in a row and accessible, we need to address how to get it where it needs to go in the next few hours. Proponents of ‘lean’ logistics counsel that the ‘drumbeat’, the pace of logistics should be set by the customers. All too often that isn’t possible in practice. Distribution centres seem to have more of a say in release schedules, in the interest of efficiency and costs. Most such facilities are set up for only one release per shift, or even per day, in order to allow several picks for each location in the same trip. This entire concept has to be scrapped if you want to commit to same day delivery. It just will not allow the kind of response time you need.

At a minimum, you’ll need to have several releases per shift. You may have to commit to dropping orders in real time, depending on the specific needs of your business. Real time dropping is a big deal. It means a heavy reorganisation, and can, frankly, meet with a lot of psychological resistance from managers and workers alike. Getting a proper, meaningful buy-in is key. That having been said, the changes that allow for much faster pick cycles can lead to substantial gains in efficiency in practice, as it outlines inefficiencies and warehouse layout problems very clearly.

You may need to look at strategies such as zone picking, or make your slotting strategies more efficient to the new order as well. Some businesses could profit by increasing warehouse automation, but this can increase employee stress, so make sure you don’t have your pickers scuttling about to the angry beeps of inflexible machines. That just leads to losing good people.

So the final question is: Is it worth doing all that to move to same day delivery? For some operations, it is not. For those whose customers demand it, though, it will become necessary, because your competitors will be doing it already.  

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