Streamlining Production in Our Distribution Center

Steven Crowthers

Orders processed at our Distribution Center (DC) in Wilmington, OH, are now smaller in volume, but more frequent, as retailers try to meet the demands of customers and account for the lack of back-stock inventory at the OEMs. Customer requirements for product configurations have also evolved over the years. On top of that, the ever-changing landscape of the IT industry has moved from pick, pack, and ship to more demand for services and solutions.

At the DC, we strive to deliver our customers what they need, when they need it, configured to their specifications. To make good on that promise, we required a strategic initiative that could bring new guiding principles to our distribution process, allowing us to focus on our core competency of providing optimal configuration and fulfillment services to our customers.

At Connection, our supply chain solution includes implementing Tier Level Meeting to create a culture of managing daily improvements, engaging and empowering our workforce, and ensuring a more efficient distribution and operations process. In my experience, we have seen that meeting customers’ needs is becoming more challenging. The way we deliver long-term customer value and business performance is to nourish a Lean culture where every step in the process adds value to our customers.

Lean is a methodology that utilizes continuous, incremental improvements to update—and upgrade—business operations. Instead of abruptly changing the way we do things, we make small changes over time, refining our operations as we go. As we made these changes, we were happy to realize significant gains in both the quality of our work and our operating performance. We were able to reduce unnecessary product changeovers, improve slotting and flow planning, and increase asset productivity. These improvements led to more efficiency in our production lines as well as the loading and shipping processes.

Since we started the Lean culture in the DC in 2017, our operations have seen significant improvement in quality and productivity, allowing us the scalability to work with new customers. And I could not be more excited about what lies ahead for the Distribution Center in 2018 as we plan to utilize new Lean initiatives and technologies as we grow.

Steven is VP, Technology Integration & Distribution Center for Connection.