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Most Recent Articles

5 Myths About Quality Control

While there is generally NOT any disagreement about the need for quality control, there are definitely different levels of appreciation for it and commitment to it. No manufacturer would want to admit to not having a quality control process, and we assume that it would be rare to find any that don’t. However, there are a lot of myths about the topic which permeate perhaps because they work as an excuse for not doing things to the level the business should be – or is capable of. Change is hard, but the myths make it harder.  Here are five of them we dispel here today.

Topics: History Quality Control

Touring Strand’s Apples Added Value Warehouse to Process the Harvest

What kind of facility looks like a factory but isn’t? Or looks like a warehouse, but looks far more industrial than a typical facility with racks principally designed for storage? The “Added-Value Warehouse” is something of a hybrid. It is a facility that does some additional work on a product before it ships out rather than just storing, picking, packing and shipping previously finished products.

Topics: Case Studies Video Warehouse

Warehouse Employee Retention Techniques & Ideas PODCAST

Staffing, employee retention, and productivity are hot topics during an economy with a low unemployment rate of 3.7%. In August we shared the benefits of Big Ass Fans, and in July we shared how to reduce employee turnover and improve productivity.

Topics: Podcast Staffing Productivity

Building a Sound Product Development Process for Small Manufacturers – Part II

Last month, we published Part I of this article, where we talked about making that transition from “freewheeling inventor” to “process-driven listener”. Basically, it is about being more systematic in how you collect the data and insights that lead to more relevance in your new products. This is hardest for the business which was started from a single brilliant idea that succeeded, because it is not uncommon for the small manufacturer to not really understand WHY their initial product succeeded. Play-Doh, the ubiquitous colorful molding clay of everyone’s youth, was originally created in the 1930’s as a wallpaper cleaner. Success is great, but if you started out intending to be an innovator in the cleaning products business but all of your customers are under five years old, where do you go next?

Topics: Planning Process Improvement Manufacturing

Practicing What We Preach – Meet Jason Williams, Operations Director

Over the years you’ve seen a lot of material coming from us about using “Lean” Manufacturing and using Lean techniques in other areas like distribution and logistics. As a manufacturer ourselves, we have always strived to take our own advice, but like many of you, we also learned in the process that while the reward is great, the work to get there can be HARD.

Topics: Lean Manufacturing Efficiency Manufacturing

Speeding Up Delivery and Service for the Holidays? It’s Time to Make Your Move - Now.

With inventories bulging from summer shipments coming in for the holidays, Distribution Centers everywhere are gearing up for the peak retail season. Historically the last four months of the year generate about 60% of a typical retailers’ annual sales, which also means this is the season where many businesses earn their real profit for the year. But how do you make sure all that inventory get out the door as planned and you are not stuck with overstock at the end of the year?

Topics: Retail Distribution Center Shipping

Water Spider: Tiny Insect or Production Floor Game Changer?

With heightened competition from the global economy, a dwindling workforce as a result of the labor shortage and increasing demands from customers—it’s never been more important for manufacturing facilities to focus on efficiency. Of course, many operations managers turn to lean techniques in an effort to streamline and increase production, but how can facilities take things a step further? 

Topics: Process Improvement Manufacturing Lean Manufacturing

Building a Sound Product Development Process for Small Manufacturers – Part I

If you’re like many small manufacturers, you started your business in one of the following ways:

  1. You saw a gap and had an inspired idea that you turned into a successful product
  2. You worked for another manufacturer and saw a better opportunity to become their supplier.
  3. You cashed out of your first career success to fund your dream startup.

And if you are a 2nd or 3rd generation business owner, then your family likely started one of those ways too, and they did well enough to make it successful for over a full generation.

Regardless of how you started and what you started with, everyone has the same problem:

Topics: Planning Process Improvement Predictions

Investing in Staff Retention Takes Many Forms – Including Big Ass Fans

(Or, we just wanted  to use the word “Big Ass” in a serious business article.)

While we’ve seen the topic of staff retention in warehouses and manufacturing plants  come up more frequently than ever, most of the discussion until now has been focused on compensation and skill training. While there are legitimate needs to address stagnant pay, lack of career paths and insufficient training, in many cases retention is much more about creating a great work environment.

Topics: Staffing Process Improvement Trends ROI

The Hard Facts and Data on Your Space Management Issues

In our annual customer satisfaction survey, “Space” and “People” continued their five-year run as the top two issues that keep facility managers up at night. But what specifically is it about these issues that weigh so heavily on the minds of every type of customer we have – big, small, high-tech, simple, etc. An annual survey by FLEXE, a warehouse services group that runs a marketplace of over 800 warehouses provides some insights into the specific aspects of space management that are a concern for so many customers.

Topics: Inventory Control Research Warehouse Management