Warehouse Improvements For A Humanitarian Aid Organization


How do you respond to changing shipment patterns?

A non-profit organization providing emergency medical assistance and long term humanitarian aid in response to worldwide catastrophes was experiencing a drastic shift in how relief was delivered to survivors.  A historically exclusive pallet in pallet out operation was anticipating half of their shipments to be case and less than case lot picking.  Establish was tasked with improving the warehouse layout and processes to efficiently handle the significant shift in order picking.

Identifying Areas for Warehouse Improvements

Using client input on which items were expected to be affected by the smaller unit picking, Establish identified the appropriate shelving solution for case picking and a required footprint in the warehouse.  Supplemental functionality, such as a case packing station to repackage unit picks of pharmaceuticals, were also identified and appropriately sized.

While observing the operation, Establish recommended improvements to the warehouse layout that were not affected by the changes in shipment size.  Space to stage additional outbound shipments was required, as the existing space for staging was insufficient for their current volumes.  We identified items stored in the warehouse that were best moved to outside storage.  We discovered that there were significant information bottlenecks for product entering the facility; inbound donated items frequently arrived without a bill of lading to identify the contents of the shipment, leaving warehouse staff with the task of sorting the received goods and determining received item quantity to confirm with the donator.

The Result

Establish developed a detailed design that incorporated both the additional functionality of case picking and improvements to existing processes.  The new layout streamlined product flow throughout the warehouse, provided space for staff to sort and process inbound shipments, increased staging area and incorporated case picking and packing areas while maintaining the storage capacity.

Key Takeaways

  • Outbound humanitarian aid is unpredictable and very sporadic in product flow.  As a result, outbound staging area provided should be significantly larger than operations in other industries of the same size.
  • When pharmaceuticals are shipped, insurers are now requiring that the shipping packages do not identify the enclosed product.  Our client did not provide that functionality, and identifying a location and size for a case packing area ensures that it can be incorporated into their outbound picking process.
  • Because inbound items were typically written off as donations, it was imperative to accurately identify inbound shipment contents to confirm all donated items were received.  The space for this functionality was relocated closer to existing inbound staging and reworked to provide space to lay out an entire shipment, making the confirmation process easier.

Establish is a supply chain consulting firm focusing on supply chain strategy, transportation consulting services, warehouse design & improvements and supply chain audits & analytics.