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Order-Fulfillment

and Across-the-Dock
Concepts, Design, and
Operations Handbook
SL0446_C00.fm Page 2 Wednesday, November 19, 2003 2:40 PM
Order-Fulfillment
and Across-the-Dock
Concepts, Design, and
Operations Handbook
David E. Mulcahy and John Dieltz

ST. LUCIE PRES S


A CRC Press Company
Boca Raton London New York Washington, D.C.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Mulcahy, David E.
Order fulfillment and across the dock concepts, design, and operations handbook / David
E. Mulcahy, John Dieltz.
p. cm.
Includes index.
ISBN 1-57444-044-6
1. Physical distribution of goodsManagementHandbooks, manuals, etc. 2.
WarehousesManagementHandbooks, manuals, etc. 3. Business
logisticsManagementHandbooks, manuals, etc. I. Dieltz, John. II. Title.

HF5415.7.M85 2003
658.788dc22 2003066730

This book contains information obtained from authentic and highly regarded sources. Reprinted material
is quoted with permission, and sources are indicated. A wide variety of references are listed. Reasonable
efforts have been made to publish reliable data and information, but the author and the publisher cannot
assume responsibility for the validity of all materials or for the consequences of their use.

Neither this book nor any part may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic
or mechanical, including photocopying, microfilming, and recording, or by any information storage or
retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.

The consent of CRC Press LLC does not extend to copying for general distribution, for promotion, for
creating new works, or for resale. Specific permission must be obtained in writing from CRC Press LLC
for such copying.

Direct all inquiries to CRC Press LLC, 2000 N.W. Corporate Blvd., Boca Raton, Florida 33431.

Trademark Notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are
used only for identification and explanation, without intent to infringe.

Visit the CRC Press Web site at www.crcpress.com

2004 by CRC Press LLC


St. Lucie Press is an imprint of CRC Press LLC

No claim to original U.S. Government works


International Standard Book Number 1-57444-044-6
Library of Congress Card Number 2003066730
Printed in the United States of America 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
Printed on acid-free paper
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Preface
The objective for writing this practitioner (practical how-to-do-it) book is to provide
warehouse and distribution professionals with a handbook that contains insights and
tips to make their order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation more efficient and
cost effective. The chapters focus on a specific order-fulfillment classification or
across-the-dock operation. The arrangement or focus of each chapter on a particular
topic provides a reader with a quick and easy reference. These chapters cover
equipment applications, concepts, and practices that are considered for implemen-
tation whether your operation is a large-, medium- or small-size business. The book
contains illustrations, forms, and tables that assist in developing your order-fulfill-
ment or across-the-dock operation to (1) reduce product damage, (2) enhance product
flow, (3) increase employee productivity, (4) improve customer service, (5) reduce
operating costs and improve profits, (6) maintain on-schedule deliveries, and (7)
assure asset protection.
It is necessary to understand that the purpose of the book is to help develop
the skill and knowledge of its readers to design, organize, and operate a material
handling or product transportation concept. Since the profession of order-fulfillment
operations and across-the-dock operations management, material handling concept
design and logistics is constantly changing, the book may not include the latest
changes in the state-of-the-art references to new technologies, the various equipment
applications, or material handling concepts.
It is also necessary to recognize that this book cannot cover all the available
equipment applications, technologies, and material handling concepts in the field of
warehouse distribution, order-fulfillment, and across-the-dock operations. The book
does assist in the training and obtaining of practical experience which has no
substitute. To assist in this objective, line art illustrations and sketches are used to
visually present a piece of equipment or material handling concept.
It is important for the reader to use the collection of data, concepts, and forms
as a guide. Prior to the purchase and installation of your new order-fulfillment or
across-the-dock concept or equipment, it is essential that you develop and project
correct, accurate, and adequate facility, inventory, stock-keeping units (SKUs), trans-
actions data, and design factors. Because these are the design bases for your proposed
order-fulfillment or across-the-dock equipment application or facility, it is prudent
for you to gather and review vendor literature and to visit existing facilities that
utilize the order-fulfillment or across-the-dock concept or equipment application.
These activities permit you to become familiar with the operational characteristics
of the order-fulfillment or across-the-dock concept or equipment application that is
under consideration for implementation in your facility. The concept and perfor-
mance specifications, physical design, and installation characteristics are subject to
SL0446_C00.fm Page 6 Wednesday, November 19, 2003 2:40 PM

redesign, improvement, and modification. They are also required to meet vendor,
local, and governmental standards and specifications.
Each chapter of this book deals with key aspects and issues of planning and
managing an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation. Some of these issues
are: how your facility layout and product location affects employee productivity;
when to use the 80/20 rule and where to locate your power SKUs; how to route
your order pickers and organize their work for the best productivity; how to deter-
mine the best small-item, hanging garment, carton, and pallet load pick concept;
how to control the batch release; how to determine what is required for an across-
the-dock operation; how to choose the most efficient and cost effective small-item,
hanging garment, carton and pallet load pick concept for business; how to the identify
the pick position; how to control pick position replenishment; how to choose the
best sortation concept for your business.
Most logistics professionals have learned from their experience with a pre-
planned and organized order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation so that they
have increased accurate and on-time deliveries, reduced costs, and improved profits.
By getting and maintaining an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock concept as out-
lined in the book, it will improve your existing order-fulfillment or across-the-dock
operation and provide future strategies for your next warehouse or plant facility.
The authors would like to express their thanks to all material handling, ware-
house and distribution, and logistics professionals with whom they have had an
association at various companies, as fellow managers, as clients, as speakers at
seminars, and as publishers.

David E. Mulcahy
John P. Dieltz
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Authors
David E. Mulcahy has been with QVC Corporation since 1999. He earned a B.S.
degree in business administration from Salem (Massachusetts) State College and an
M.B.A. degree from the University of Dallas. He has more than 30 years of increas-
ingly responsible experience in all aspects of order-fulfillment and across-the-dock
operations and international supply chain management. A prolific author and speaker,
this is his third book.

John P. Dieltz is currently employed as an application engineer for the Kingway


Inca Clymer Material Handling Company. He earned an undergraduate degree in
engineering from South Dakota State University and a Masters degree in industrial
engineering from Iowa State University. He has more than 10 years of experience
in distribution working on order-fulfillment solutions for companies shipping dif-
ferent types of products.
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Contents
Chapter 1 Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Strategic Considerations......1
Introduction ......................................................................................................1
Piece and Information Flows ...........................................................................2
Economic Value................................................................................................3
Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Operation Serves Your Company ......3
Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Operation Resources..........................3
Company Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Operational Objectives......4
Important Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Trends and Issues .............4
E-Commerce and the Internet..........................................................................4
Overview ..........................................................................................................5

Chapter 2 Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives and Their


Impact on Your Companys Profit and Customer Service ..................7
Introduction ......................................................................................................7
Order-Fulfillment Activities .............................................................................7
Across-the-Dock Activities ..............................................................................7
Piece-Handling Characteristics .......................................................................8
Order-Fulfillment Operation Objective............................................................9
Across-the-Dock Operation Objective.............................................................9
Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Operation Activities ........................9
Yard Control .........................................................................................10
Unloading .............................................................................................11
Verifying Piece Quality and Quantity..................................................11
Receiving ..............................................................................................11
Piece Identification ...............................................................................12
Packaging..............................................................................................12
Horizontal or Vertical Transportation...................................................13
Storage ..................................................................................................13
Deposit..................................................................................................13
Inventory Control..................................................................................13
IMS Customer-Order Download ..........................................................13
Carton or Shipping Container Makeup................................................14
Customer-Order Pick............................................................................14
Sorting...................................................................................................15
Replenishment ......................................................................................15
Packaging..............................................................................................16
Package Sealing....................................................................................16
Package Weighing and Manifest ..........................................................17
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Loading and Shipping Activities..........................................................17


Customer Return, Out-of-Season, and Transfer ..................................17
Across-the-Dock Operations ................................................................18
Maintenance, Sanitation, and Security.................................................18
On-Schedule and Accurate Performance of an Order-Fulfillment or
Across-the-Dock Operation and Customer Delivery Activities Means
Profits and Satisfied Customers .....................................................................18
Why Is an Accurate, Efficient, and Cost-Effective Order-Fulfillment
or Across-the-Dock Operation Important?...........................................19
What Is the Standard for a Good Order-Fulfillment or
Across-the-Dock Operation? ................................................................19
How to Improve Your Order-fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Operation......20
Look at the Employee Numbers ..........................................................20
Develop a Standard ..............................................................................21
Use Batched Customer Orders and Dual-Cycle Activities..................21
Reduce Travel Time and Distance .......................................................22
Improve the SKU Hit Concentration and Hit Density ........................22
Use ABC or Power SKU Allocation....................................................23
Use Kit or Family Group SKUs ..........................................................24
Keep It Simple and Clear.....................................................................24
Use Sequential Order Pick Patterns .....................................................25
Cube the Order Picker Activity or Automatic Pick Requirement .......25
Smooth or Level the Work Volume......................................................26
Use Part-Time Employees....................................................................26
Apply the Golden Zone or Proper Elevation and Location of the
Pick Position .........................................................................................27
Change from Paper Pick Document to Self-Adhesive Label,
Paperless, or Automatic Pick Method..................................................27
Develop a Good Equipment and Facility Layout and Flow
Pattern ...................................................................................................28
Maintain Clear Aisles and Practice Good Housekeeping....................28
Maintain Good Lighting in the Pick Aisle or Pick Line.....................28
Change Your Employee Work from a Human-Paced Method to a
Machine-Paced Method........................................................................29
Add Material Handling or Piece Transportation Equipment to Your
Employee Work ....................................................................................29
Use Automatic Identification................................................................30
Provide Sufficient Work .......................................................................30
Use the Pick and Pack Method for High Volume of a Few Single-
Item or Flat Wear Apparel SKUs for Single-Customer Orders ..........30
Ensure On-Time and Accurate Pick Position Replenishment .............31
Determine Where to Start the Single-Item Order Pickers...................31
Have an Arithmetic Progression through a Pick Aisle or along the
Pick Line...............................................................................................32
Pick Position Numbers That End with Even Numbers on the Right and
Pick Position Numbers That End with Odd Numbers on the Left ..... 33
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Increase Your Employee Pride .............................................................33


Implement a Work Incentive Program .................................................34
Controlling Your Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Operation....34
Employee Productivity Must Be Tied to Your Order-Fulfillment and
Across-the-Dock Operation..................................................................35
Short-Interval Scheduling ..............................................................................35
SIS for Your Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Activities ...........36
How SIS Works ....................................................................................36
How to Project Your Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Operating
Budget ............................................................................................................37
Annual Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Operating Expense
Budget Methods ...................................................................................37
Why Have Capital Investments?....................................................................43
What Is the Capital Expenditure Justification? ...................................43
How Depreciation Expense Affects Your Company Income Statement
and Balance Sheet ................................................................................43
How Does Your Employee Productivity Affect Your Companys Income
Statement? ......................................................................................................44
What Does Good Employee Productivity Mean to Your Companys
Income Statement? ...............................................................................44
Reasons for Economic Justification Factors..................................................44
Economic Justification Process ............................................................45
Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method Alternatives ...............45
What Is the Useful Life?......................................................................45
What Is the Rate of Return? ................................................................46
What Are the Inflation Rate and Growth Rate? ..................................46
What Are the Economic Factors? ........................................................47
What Are the Noneconomic Factors? ..................................................47
Quantify the Economic and Noneconomic Factors.............................47
Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Method Implementation and
Project Management ......................................................................................47
Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method Project Management
Activities...............................................................................................47
How to Estimate Costs, Write Functional Specifications, Review
Bids, Administer Contracts, and Implement Your Order-Fulfillment or
Across-the-Dock Method .....................................................................48
When and How to Select and Use a Consultant ...........................................90
Where Do You Find Assistance for Your Operation?..........................90
Providing Accurate and On-Time Operational
Design Information...............................................................................90
Internal (In-House) Expert ...................................................................90
External or Outside Consultant............................................................91
Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Equipment Vendors ................91
What Are the Signals That Your Operation Requires a Consultant?...91
What Are the Activities That Require an External Consultant? .........92
What Should Your Consultant Examine?.............................................92
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Who from Your Company Should Work on


Your Project? ........................................................................................92
Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Project Team Organization.....92
Where Do You Find Consultants?........................................................93
Insights for Your Consultant Selection Process...................................94
Projects That Involve Consultants........................................................94
What Information Does Your Consultant Require for Your
Project? .................................................................................................94
Why Is High Employee Productivity Important?..........................................95
What Is Employee Productivity? .........................................................95
What Are the Business Factors That Affect Your Productivity? .........95
Areas for Employee Productivity Improvement ..................................96
Guidelines for a Successful Employee Productivity Program ............98
Employee Hours Must Be Consistent................................................102
Seven Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Ratios...................................103
Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Employee (Labor) Ratio ......103
Direct-Employee Handling Loss Ratio ..............................................104
Piece or Customer-Order Movement or Operation Ratio .................104
Customer-Order-Fulfillment Cycle Efficiency Ratio .........................105
Space-Utilization Efficiency Ratio.....................................................105
Equipment Utilization Ratio ..............................................................106
Aisle-Space Potential Ratio................................................................106
Keep It Simple .............................................................................................107
It Must Be Cost Effective ............................................................................107
Results Must Be Timely ..............................................................................107
Various Measurement Standards..................................................................107
Agreed-Upon or Budgeted Standard..................................................108
Industry Standard................................................................................108
Your Company Standard ....................................................................108
Time-Study Standard..........................................................................108
Regression Analysis............................................................................108
Employee Productivity Is Tied to Your Annual Expense Budget...............109

Chapter 3 Order-Fulfillment Systems ...............................................................111


Introduction ..................................................................................................111
The Basics of Split-Case Order Picking .....................................................111
Put System Basics........................................................................................113
Other Product Issues ....................................................................................113
Storage or Picking Medium.........................................................................113
Static Shelving....................................................................................113
Carton Flow Racks .............................................................................114
Pallet Flow Lanes ...............................................................................117
Picking Modules.................................................................................117
General Pick-Line Layout............................................................................118
Types of Order-Fulfillment Systems............................................................118
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Cart Systems.......................................................................................120
Pick-to-Paper Systems........................................................................120
Radio Frequency Scanner and Voice Systems...................................121
A-Frame Systems ...............................................................................123
Tilt-Tray or Cross-Belt Sorter Systems .............................................126
Carousel Systems................................................................................129
Carousel Put Systems .........................................................................132
Pick-to-Light and Pick-to-Display Systems.......................................132
Put-to-Display Systems ......................................................................137
Complex Picking Systems..................................................................138
Check Weighing .................................................................................139
Summary ......................................................................................................139

Chapter 4 Garment-on-Hanger Order-Fulfillment Operations .........................141


Introduction ..................................................................................................141
Hanging Garment or GOH Item..................................................................142
Base Operational Data and
Pick-Area Information..................................................................................142
Peak, Average, and Most Frequent GOH or Customer-Order Volumes .....143
Peak, Average, and Most Frequent GOH Piece or Customer-Order
Volumes ..............................................................................................143
Facility Design Information and Considerations.........................................144
SKU Location on the Pick Line or in the Pick Aisle .................................147
GOH SKU Allocation or Profile Methods ..................................................148
Random or Mixed Method.................................................................148
Separation by Length .........................................................................148
Separation by Season and GOH Length............................................149
Pick-Area Design .........................................................................................149
Building Considerations...............................................................................149
Building Shape ...................................................................................150
Building Height ..................................................................................151
Pick-Line or Pick-Aisle Design...................................................................151
GOH Piece and Customer-Order Flow ..............................................151
Drawings.............................................................................................153
List of Activities...........................................................................................154
Pick-Line or Pick-Aisle Design Parameters................................................154
GOH Pick-Line or Pick-Aisle Sequence of Activities ................................155
GOH Receiving and Unloading...................................................................156
GOH Unloading Methods ..................................................................157
Flat-Packed Garment to GOH Methods.............................................159
GOH Sort-and-Count Activity .....................................................................160
GOH Cart Method..............................................................................161
Nonpowered Trolley Rail Method .....................................................161
Other GOH Dock-Area Handling Considerations ......................................161
Grouping Three or Five Pieces into One Bundle ..............................162
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Quality Assurance ........................................................................................162


Hanging-Garment Steaming ........................................................................162
Manual Steaming................................................................................162
Automatic Steaming ...........................................................................163
Plastic Bag Bottoms.....................................................................................163
Open Plastic Bag Bottom...................................................................164
Secure Plastic Bag Bottom.................................................................164
Hanging-Garment Bagging Activity ............................................................164
Manual Bagging .................................................................................164
Automatic Bagging.............................................................................165
GOH In-House Transportation.....................................................................165
Horizontal GOH Transportation ..................................................................165
Objectives ...........................................................................................165
Design Parameters ..............................................................................166
Nonpowered Horizontal Transportation ......................................................167
Horizontal Transportation Methods ...................................................167
Above-Floor Nonpowered Horizontal Transportation Group............168
Overhead Nonpowered Horizontal Transportation Group.................174
Powered Horizontal Transportation Group ........................................196
Trolleyless GOH Transport Concepts..........................................................217
Various Trolleyless GOH Transport Concepts...................................217
Vertical GOH Transportation .......................................................................226
Vertical Transportation Objectives .....................................................226
Vertical Transportation Design Parameters........................................227
Computer Simulation of a GOH Transportation System ..................228
Vertical Transportation Design Factors..............................................228
Various Vertical Transportation Systems ...........................................229
GOH Static-Rail Storage
and Pick Methods.........................................................................................242
Various GOH Storage and Pick Design Parameters and Key
Components ........................................................................................242
GOH Storage and Pick Position Design Considerations...................242
GOH Storage and Pick Rail Capacity ...............................................243
Various Static-Rail Storage and Pick Methods..................................243
Hanging Garment Storage and Order-Fulfillment Methods........................254
Employee Travels to the Pick Position ..............................................255
Stock Travels to a Pick-Position Method ..........................................266
GOH Order-Picker Routing Patterns ...........................................................277
Overhead Trolley Picking in the Pick Aisle ......................................277
Storage and Pick-Area Design Considerations ...........................................278
Types of Pick Position........................................................................278
GOH SKU Location in the Pick Aisle...............................................279
Pick-Aisle Characteristics ..................................................................281
Aisle Direction of Flow......................................................................281
Various In-House Hanging Garment Transportation Methods ...................288
GOH Cart Method..............................................................................288
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Nonpowered Overhead Trolley Method.............................................288


Trolleyless Method .............................................................................288
Tote on a Nonpowered or Powered Conveyor...................................289
Completed Customer-Order Package Take-Away Method................289
Customer-Order Check Methods .......................................................293
Packing Instruction and Shipping Label Preparation ........................294
Hanging Garment Packing Considerations ........................................295

Chapter 5 Planning a Carton or Full-Case Order-Fulfillment Operation ........303


Introduction ..................................................................................................303
Carton or Handling Unit ..............................................................................303
Base Operational Data and
Pick-Area Information..................................................................................303
Peak, Average, and Most Frequent Carton or Customer-Order
Volumes ..............................................................................................304
Facility Design Information and Considerations.........................................306
Carton Order-Fulfillment Facility Layout Considerations ..........................307
Layout Philosophies and Principles ...................................................308
SKU Location on the Pick Line or in the Pick Aisle .................................318
Pick-Area Design .........................................................................................319
Pick-Line or Pick-Aisle Design .........................................................319
Carton and Customer-Order Flow......................................................319
Drawings.............................................................................................321
Pick-Line or Pick-Aisle Design Parameters................................................322
Purpose of a Carton Order-Fulfillment Operation ......................................323
Carton Order-Fulfillment Activities .............................................................323
Truck Yard Control Activity...............................................................324
Unloading Activity .............................................................................324
Receiving and Checking Activities ....................................................325
Identification Activity .........................................................................325
Internal Transportation Activity .........................................................326
Deposit in Storage Activity ................................................................326
Picking and Identification Activity ....................................................326
In-House Transportation Activity.......................................................326
Sorting Activity ..................................................................................326
Storage Withdrawal and Replenishment Activity ..............................326
Manifesting Activity ...........................................................................327
Loading and Shipping Activity ..........................................................327
Customer-Returns Activity .................................................................327
Order-Pick Activity.............................................................................327
Various Order-Pick Methods..............................................................330
Employee and Picked-SKU In-House Transportation Methods........340
Order-Picker Routing Patterns .....................................................................359
No Routing Pattern.............................................................................359
Sequential Routing Patterns ...............................................................359
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Disadvantages and Advantages of Electric Pallet Trucks ...........................364


Order Instruction ..........................................................................................364
Keep It Simple and Clear...................................................................364
Information on the Order-Pick Instruction ........................................365
Various Order-Pick Instructions .........................................................366
Paperless Order-Picking Methods ......................................................367
Pick-Position Identification..........................................................................368
No Method..........................................................................................369
Manual Printing on the Carton ..........................................................369
Manually Printed Label on the Carton or Pick Position ...................370
Preprinted Self-Adhesive Label .........................................................370
Human- and Machine-Readable Cardboard or Paper Label in
a Holder ..............................................................................................370
Placard Hung from the Ceiling or Embedded in the Floor...............370
Digital Display on the Pick Position or Structure.............................371
Digital Display on the RF Device .....................................................371
Electric Tractor or Tugger Method..............................................................371
Various Tow Tractors or Tuggers .......................................................371
Powered Forklift-Truck Method ..................................................................374
Order-Picker Trucks or HROS.....................................................................374
Rail Guidance...............................................................................................375
Aisle Entry Guides .............................................................................375
Rail Installation Parameters ...............................................................375
Electronic Guidance Group................................................................377
When to Use Rail or Wire Guidance.................................................379
End-Of-Aisle Vehicle Slowdown Devices ...................................................379
Vehicle Slowdown Methods...............................................................380
Carton High-Rise Order-Picker Trucks .......................................................381
Order-Picker Truck with a Carton Load-Carrying Surface ...............382
Counterbalanced Truck.......................................................................382
Straddle Truck ....................................................................................382
Platform Truck....................................................................................382
VNA Truck .........................................................................................382
Order-Pick Devices ......................................................................................383
High-Rise Truck Routing Methods .............................................................383
One-Way High-Rise Order-Picker Truck Routing Pattern ................384
Two-Way High-Rise Order-Picker Truck Routing Pattern................384
HROS Considerations ..................................................................................385
Methods in Which an Employee Walks to Pick Positions and Picked
Cartons Are Transported Away ....................................................................385
Batched or Grouped Customer Orders ..............................................386
Batch Control Methods ......................................................................386
Batch Release Methods ......................................................................387
How to Determine the Carton Quantity per Batch............................388
Pick Faces or Positions ......................................................................389
Pallet Orientation................................................................................389
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Pallet Height .......................................................................................389


Various Employee Pick-to-Powered Conveyor Methods ............................390
Standard Pallet Rack, Parallel to the Pick Conveyor ........................390
Standard Pallet Rack, Perpendicular to the Pick Conveyor ..............391
Carton Flow Rack or Decked Pallet Rack.........................................392
Pallet Flow Rack, Parallel to the Pick Conveyor ..............................393
Pallet Flow Rack, Perpendicular to the Pick Conveyor ....................395
Pick Tunnel ..................................................................................................396
Underside Deck or Netting ..........................................................................396
Determining the Carton-Conveyor Travel Path ...........................................396
How to Cross the Carton-Conveyor Travel Path .........................................397
Safety Gate .........................................................................................398
Stairs and Platform .............................................................................398
Stile .....................................................................................................398
Ships Ladder with Slats between Conveyor Rollers .........................398
Carton Travel on a Conveyor Travel Path ...................................................399
Skewed Rollers ...................................................................................399
Sleeve-Wrapped or Taped Rollers......................................................399
Angled Deflector ................................................................................399
Empty-Pallet Return.....................................................................................400
Order-Picker Removal of the Empty Pallet .......................................400
Empty-Pallet Guide Path ....................................................................400
Powered Mechanical Pallet-Flow Method .........................................401
Manually Controlled Overhead Powered Mechanical Hoist with
a Set of Hooks....................................................................................401
Empty-Pallet Position ..................................................................................401
Elevated Employee Walkway.......................................................................402
Solid-Deck Walkway ..........................................................................402
Open-Deck or Grated-Deck Walkway ...............................................402
Stairs.............................................................................................................403
Order-Picker Routing Pattern ......................................................................403
Order-Picker Instruction Method.................................................................403
Sorting Method ............................................................................................403
Sorting to Temporary Storage and Shipping Area.............................404
Direct-Loading Method ......................................................................405
Shipping Cartons on Carts or Pallets.................................................405
Various Sorting Types ........................................................................405
Sorting Is the Heart of the Batched Order-Pick Method ..................406
Employee Rides to Pick Positions and Picked Cartons Are Transported
Away.............................................................................................................412
Pick Car ..............................................................................................413
Decombe Truck ..................................................................................413
Stock-to-Employee Pick Methods ...............................................................414
Carton Carousel ..................................................................................414
Cart Carousel ......................................................................................415
S.I. Cartrac..........................................................................................415
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Sort Link.............................................................................................416
Storage Area or ASRS Front-End ......................................................416
Mini-Load ...........................................................................................418
Automatic Order-Pick Methods...................................................................419
S.I. Ordermatic ...................................................................................419
Vertique...............................................................................................421
Nonconveyable or Very-Large-SKU Order-Pick Methods ..........................422
Various Nonconveyable Carton Pick Methods ..................................422
Nonconveyable Carton Pick Vehicles ................................................422
Nonconveyable Picked-Carton Flow..................................................425
Arrangement of the Pick Positions ....................................................426
Carton or Pallet Replenishment...................................................................427
Types of Pick Position .................................................................................427
Fixed Pick Position.............................................................................427
Floating Pick Position ........................................................................428
Put-Away and Withdrawal Transaction-Verification and Inventory-Tracking
Methods........................................................................................................428
Human Memory..................................................................................428
Handwritten Paper Document ............................................................428
Manual File.........................................................................................429
Bar-Code Scanning.............................................................................429
Various Replenishment Methods .................................................................430
Random Replenishment......................................................................430
Slug Replenishment............................................................................430
Sweep Replenishment ........................................................................430
WMS Replenishment..........................................................................431
SKU Allocation to the Pick Area ................................................................431
No Method..........................................................................................431
ABC Method ......................................................................................431
Family Group......................................................................................432
Various Replenishment Quantities...............................................................432
Pallet ...................................................................................................432
Replenishment of One Layer of a Pallet ...........................................432
Replenishment of Less Than One Layer of a Pallet .........................433
Various Timing Methods for Replenishment ..............................................433
Manual Method ..................................................................................433
Computer Method...............................................................................433

Chapter 6 Pallet Order-Fulfillment Operations ................................................435


Introduction ..................................................................................................435
Base Operational Data and Area Information .............................................435
Peak, Average, and Most Frequent Pallet Volumes or Customer-Order
Volumes ..............................................................................................436
Facility Design Information and Considerations.........................................438
SKU Location in the Storage/Pick Area .....................................................440
SL0446_bookTOC.fm Page 19 Wednesday, November 19, 2003 2:41 PM

Pallet Storage-Area Design..........................................................................440


Pallet Flow ...................................................................................................441
Horizontal One-Way Flow Pattern.....................................................443
Horizontal Two-Way Flow Pattern.....................................................443
Drawings ......................................................................................................444
Block Drawing....................................................................................444
Plan-View Drawing ............................................................................444
List of Activities...........................................................................................444
Pallet Rack-Row and Vehicle-Aisle Design Parameters .............................445
Pallet-Handling Sequence Of Activities ......................................................446
Schedule and Yard Control of Vendor and Customer Delivery Trucks ......446
Receiving and Shipping Dock Locations ....................................................447
Combination Docks ............................................................................447
Separated Docks .................................................................................448
Scattered Docks ..................................................................................448
Truck Access to the Docks.................................................................449
Truck Traffic-Flow Patterns .........................................................................450
One-Way Pattern.................................................................................450
Two-Way Pattern ................................................................................450
Delivery-Truck Holding Area ......................................................................450
Block Method .....................................................................................450
45-Angle Method ..............................................................................451
Back-To-Back and Side-To-Side Method ..........................................451
Landing Gear Pad ........................................................................................451
Other Important Truck Features ..................................................................451
Truck-Yard Security .....................................................................................451
Truck Loading and Maneuvering Areas ......................................................452
Truck Dimensions for Docks.......................................................................453
Truck Dock Design Factors .........................................................................453
Flush-Dock Designs ...........................................................................454
Open-Dock Design .............................................................................455
Enclosed-Dock Design .......................................................................455
Side-Loading or Finger Docks...........................................................456
Drive through the Facility ..................................................................456
Staggered or Saw-Tooth Dock ...........................................................456
Pier Dock ............................................................................................457
Freestanding Dock or Dock House....................................................457
Mobile Yard Ramp .............................................................................457
Other Dock Design Features ..............................................................457
Unloading and Loading Methods ................................................................466
Manual Unloading and Loading Methods .........................................466
Mechanical Unloading and Loading Methods...................................469
Automatic Unloading and Loading Methods ....................................471
Railcar Unloading and Loading Methods ...................................................472
Various Railcar Dock Designs.....................................................................473
Flush Dock .........................................................................................473
SL0446_bookTOC.fm Page 20 Wednesday, November 19, 2003 2:41 PM

Rail Platform Dock ............................................................................473


Inside Rail Dock.................................................................................474
Mobile or Remote Dock Ramp..........................................................474
Single Railcar Unloading.............................................................................474
Controlled or Selective Railcar Unloading ........................................475
Double Railcar Unloading..................................................................475
Various Railcar Dock Board Designs to Bridge The Gap ..........................475
Portable Dock Board ..........................................................................475
Vertically Stored Dock Board ............................................................475
Portable Railcar to Railcar Dock Board ............................................476
Bascule Bridge .............................................................................................476
Railcar Dock-Area Options .........................................................................476
Pallet Unloading Activity.............................................................................476
Floor-Stacked Method ........................................................................477
Pallet-Board Method ..........................................................................477
Slip-Sheet Method ..............................................................................477
Container Method...............................................................................478
Pallet Receiving Activity .............................................................................479
Need for Sufficient, Clear Finished-Floor Space and Aisles ......................479
How to Project the Required Number of Docks .........................................480
Manual Calculation ............................................................................480
Manual Simulation .............................................................................480
Computer Simulation .........................................................................480
How to Determine the Dock-Area Size ......................................................481
Mobile Truck Paths ............................................................................481
Pallet Staging Area .............................................................................481
Four Important Rack and Facility Dimensions ...........................................484
Clear Space between Two Building Columns ...................................484
Clear Space between the Finished-Floor Surface and the Lowest
Ceiling Obstruction ............................................................................485
Pallet Load Dimensions .....................................................................485
Pallet Load Bottom Support Device ..................................................486
Other Important Clearances or Open Spaces ..............................................486
Ceiling Clearance for Fire Sprinklers..........................................................486
Clearance between Two Pallets and Rack Support Members ...........487
Clearances for a Straddle Forklift Truck ...........................................487
A Rack-Supported Building Means a Wider Rack Base Plate .........487
Flue or Open Space between Back-to-Back Racks or Walls ............488
Finished-Floor Stacked Pallet Clearance ...........................................488
With a Tall-Rack Facility, Allow for Baffle Levels and Additional
Sprinkers .............................................................................................488
White Space along the Wall for a Food Facility ...............................488
Conveyors Adjacent to a Building Column Require Open Space ....488
Other Factors That Affect Employee Productivity......................................489
Physical Components of a Pallet Storage/Pick Method..............................489
Pallet Load..........................................................................................489
SL0446_bookTOC.fm Page 21 Wednesday, November 19, 2003 2:41 PM

Pallet Load-Handling Vehicle.............................................................503


Pallet Load Storage/Pick Position Methods ......................................523
Pallet Identification.............................................................................540
In-House Transportation Methods ...............................................................549
Human-Powered Pallet Truck ............................................................549
Powered Pallet Truck..........................................................................549
Forklift Truck......................................................................................549
Powered Vehicle with a Train of Carts ..............................................549
AGV....................................................................................................550

Chapter 7 Single-Item, GOH, Carton, or Pallet Across-the-Dock


Operations ........................................................................................563
Introduction ..................................................................................................563
Across-the-Dock Definition .........................................................................565
Objective of an Across-the-Dock Operation ...............................................565
What Is Required .........................................................................................566
Who from Your Company Is Involved ........................................................566
The Vendor Responsibility...........................................................................567
Piece or Customer Identification .................................................................567
Human-Readable Identification..........................................................568
Machine-Readable Identification........................................................569
Human- and Machine-Readable Identification ..................................569
Across-the-Dock Formats and Piece Flow Methods ...................................571
Manufacturing Cross-Docking Method .............................................572
Distribution Cross-Docking Method..................................................573
Terminal Cross-Docking Method.......................................................573
Various Across-the-Dock Piece Characteristics ..........................................574
Unsorted and Unlabeled Pieces .........................................................574
Unsorted and Labeled Pieces .............................................................574
Sorted and Labeled Pieces .................................................................575
Receiving and Shipping Dock Areas Are Most Important..........................575
Receiving and Shipping Dock Projections and Other Considerations .......577
Required Truck Dock Number...........................................................577
Required Number of Shipping or Customer Delivery-Truck
Docks ..................................................................................................581
Receiving and Shipping Dock Staging Area or Conveyor
Network ..............................................................................................581
Delivery Truck Access to the Truck Docks .......................................581
Truck-Yard Traffic-Flow Patterns.......................................................583
Delivery-Truck Temporary Holding Area ..........................................583
Landing-Gear Pad...............................................................................584
Truck-Yard Security ...........................................................................585
Delivery-Truck Canopy ......................................................................585
Delivery-Truck Unloading and Maneuvering Area ...........................585
Delivery-Truck Dimensions for the Docks........................................586
SL0446_bookTOC.fm Page 22 Wednesday, November 19, 2003 2:41 PM

Other Important Delivery-Truck Yard Features .................................587


Delivery Truck Dock Design Factors ................................................587
Unloading Method .......................................................................................605
Manual-Unloading Methods...............................................................605
Mechanical-Unloading Methods ........................................................607
Piece Change................................................................................................627
Small-Item Across-the-Dock Operation Customer-Order and
Shipping Piece ....................................................................................627
Small-Item, Flat Wear, or GOH Across-the-Dock Operation .....................628
Master-Carton Open Activity .............................................................628
SKU Ticketing ....................................................................................628
Various Small-Item, Flat Wear, and GOH Across-the-Dock Sorting
Methods ..............................................................................................630
Across-the-Dock Small-Item or Flat Wear Apparel or Customer-Order
Sorting.................................................................................................630
Packing Verification............................................................................638
Filling the Customer Shipping Container Voids................................639
Seal the Customer Shipping Container..............................................639
Shipping Address on the Customer Shipping Container...................639
Manifesting and Loading Customer Shipping Containers ................640
Handling GOH or Hanging Garments in an Across-the-Dock
Operation ......................................................................................................641
Unloading of GOH .............................................................................642
Handling Hanging Garments in Boxes ..............................................642
Unloading Objective...........................................................................642
GOH Sorting.......................................................................................643
Master-Carton Across-the-Dock Sorting Methods ......................................647
Carton Conveyor Transportation and Sorting Is the Heart of the
Batched Across-the-Dock Method .....................................................648
Across-the-Dock Carton Sorting Design Parameters
and Factors..........................................................................................648
Manual Across-the-Dock Carton Sorting Methods ...........................649
Mechanized Carton Sorting................................................................651
Various Sorting Surfaces or Conveyor Travel Paths..........................654
Mechanical Divert Component ..........................................................656
Various Divert Devices or Methods ...................................................656
Carton Conveyor Customer Shipping-Lane Design ..........................670
Conveyor Considerations....................................................................670
Temporary Hold Area of Across-the-Dock Sorted Cartons
Method................................................................................................673
Across-the-Dock Shipping Sorting Method.......................................674
Direct or Fluid Load of Across-the-Dock Cartons ............................674
Separating Shipping Cartons into Units ............................................674
Mimic Display and Control Panel .....................................................675
Nonconveyable Across-the-Dock Carton Sorting ..............................675
Pallet or Unit-Load Across-the-Dock Methods...........................................681
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Pallet as the Across-the-Dock Unit-Load Support Device................682


Important Pallet Dimensions..............................................................682
Basic Pallet Designs ...........................................................................683
Slip-Sheet............................................................................................683
Various Pallet Across-the-Dock Transportation Methods..................685
Various Forklift Trucks.......................................................................685

Index ......................................................................................................................691
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SL0446_C01.fm Page 1 Wednesday, November 19, 2003 2:42 PM

1 Order-Fulfillment
and Across-the-Dock
Strategic Considerations

INTRODUCTION
This introductory chapter will:

Identify key order-fulfillment and across-the-dock functions


Look at piece and information flows
Define terms used in the distribution industry to describe order-fulfillment
and across-the-dock operations
Outline the objectives of distribution operations
Note the trends that are shaping order-fulfillment and across-the-dock
operations and facilities

Order-fulfillment operations are similar across industry groups, whether the


operation handles small items, flat wear, garments on hangers (GOH), cartons, or
pallets. Each order-fulfillment operation performs most or all of the basic distribu-
tion activities. These activities include receiving operations, put-away and storage,
order-fulfillment, shipping, and returns. Each activity can be broken into more
specific tasks.
Receiving operations consist of unloading vendor or customer delivery trucks
and receiving, checking, and marking inbound merchandise. Put-away entails inter-
nal horizontal and vertical transportation to the storage/pick area, work station, or
outbound staging area. Storage includes deposit, withdrawal, and replenishment
transactions. Order-fulfillment consists of order picking or distribution, sorting and
checking, packing, and sealing. Shipping operations comprise weighing, manifest-
ing, loading, and shipping. Returns processing involves handling of returns, out-of-
season pieces, and customer transfers.
Across-the-dock operations are also similar in all industry groups. Most, whether
for small items, flat wear, GOH, cartons, or pallets, include the following components:

Controlling vendor or customer truck movement in the yard


Unloading, counting, and (as required) checking and marking the
merchandise

1
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2 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Applying a sorting label (as required)


Internal horizontal or vertical piece transportation from the inbound dock
area to a work station or sorting area
Sorting onto the dock staging area or directly into the customer delivery
vehicle
Completing the manifest
Performing the various store and hold activities for the residual inventory
Performing maintenance, sanitation, and loss-prevention activities

PIECE AND INFORMATION FLOWS

Piece and information flow patterns in order-fulfillment are similar to water flowing
through a large funnel. The funnels mouth is wide and accepts a very large piece
quantity and a great deal of information. Over several days or weeks a broad mix
of pieces in various storage quantities from numerous vendors is delivered to your
distribution facility on various delivery vehicles.
The customer information flow for storage pieces or customer orders occurs on
a daily basis (more frequent than the piece receipt) along with the piece receipt
information that is sent to the distribution operation. These storage pieces are placed
into the companys inventory files along with the customer orders. The time frame
for an order-fulfillment operation to complete a customer-order and delivery cycle
is generally short less than 24 hours for most operations. The time frame of the
customer-order and delivery cycle is determined by top management, based on
customers, geographic location, and customer delivery address.
As pieces flow through the funnel, various value-added distribution activities
are performed to ensure that the items satisfy customer needs and earn a profit for
the company. With an increase in customers, orders, and value-added activities, the
time available to perform these activities becomes increasingly shorter; this repre-
sents the funnels mouth.
The funnel for across-the-dock piece and information flow is more streamlined
because the across-the-dock operation does not enter pieces into inventory. Instead,
the pieces inventory passes through the distribution facility to the customer. If there
is a residual inventory after the across-the-dock operation, it is noted in the facilitys
warehouse management system (WMS) inventory files and placed in the storage
area. If customers require additional pieces, the customer orders are completed from
this residual inventory and conventional store and hold flows apply to the inventory
and information.
With an across-the-dock operation, pieces arrive at the facility and are released
to customers daily. This fast piece-flow, or non-store-and-hold, style of inventory
management gives the piece and information flow a smaller funnel mouth.
Another characteristic of the across-the-dock piece flow funnel shape is that the
size of the funnels middle section is similar to that of the mouth and exit opening.
This similar dimension is a result of the fact that pieces are constantly flowing
through the funnel. At some across-the-dock operations where the customer delivery
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Strategic Considerations 3

vehicle is held at the shipping dock until it has a full load, the funnel exit has a
wider opening than the funnel mouth.
The customer information flow for across-the-dock pieces or customer orders
occurs on a daily basis as pieces arrive at the facility. When a vendor piece arrives at
the receiving dock, the customer-order information is released or has already been
released to the across-the-dock operation. This action allows pieces to flow from
the receiving dock through the sorting system and onto the customer delivery vehicle.

ECONOMIC VALUE
An order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation has an economic value in a com-
pany. The operation ensures that the stock-keeping unit (SKU) inventory, or the flow
through the supply-chain logistics system, receives time and place value. The value
is summarized in the following statement: Your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock
operation ensures that the right piece is in the right condition, at the right place
(work station or customer location), at the right time, in the right quantity, and at
the right cost. Order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operations contribute to com-
pany profits by reducing operational costs and by satisfying your customers.

ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-DOCK
OPERATION SERVES YOUR COMPANY
Your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation helps your company achieve its
objectives by performing the following services. First, it consolidates customer
demand for pieces to achieve economies of scale. With todays communication
systems, your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operations and customer delivery
system can handle more customers and reduce the cost per piece. Second, it provides
geographic piece distribution to your customers. The service ensures that your
customer is receiving the best delivery cost per piece. Third, it provides the means
for your company to flow pieces through its supply-chain logistics system. These
pieces are produced throughout the year to accommodate seasonal demand. This
service allows your company to reduce costs by purchasing large-scale piece quan-
tities, providing your customers with the lowest piece cost and allowing for year-
round demand.

ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-DOCK
OPERATION RESOURCES
You can maximize your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation and customer
delivery by efficient use of scarce resources, which in turn help you meet strategy
objectives in the company supply chain. Available resources include facility layout;
order-fulfillment systems; employees; land; owned or leased buildings; your man-
agement team; computers and software; piece vendors; customers; consultants; and
order-fulfillment vendors, industry groups, and associations.
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4 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

COMPANY ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-


DOCK OPERATIONAL OBJECTIVES
The objectives of order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operations are to improve
profits and provide customer service. To achieve these objectives, an order-fulfillment
or across-the-dock operation tries to:

Maximize facility use and customer carton or delivery vehicle space


utilization
Maximize order-fulfillment or across-the-dock system utilization
Maximize employee utilization
Reduce SKU handlings
Maintain SKU accessibility
Maintain the designed SKU rotation, also known as inventory turns
Minimize logistics operational expenses
Ensure company asset protection
Ensure customer satisfaction

IMPORTANT ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-


THE-DOCK TRENDS AND ISSUES
The important order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operational trends and issues are:

New technologies and computer controls


Automatic identification
Pick position just-in-time replenishment
Equipment and labor flexibility
Maintenance of smaller inventories with material requirements planning
(MRP) and distribution requirements planning (DRP)
Use of mechanized or automatic machines
Contract or third-party operations (3P)
Customer-order mix and size changes with the increasing use of E-commerce

These factors have had an increasing impact on todays order-fulfillment or


across-the-dock operations, and will affect new operations and facilities planned for
the year 2010. These new operations and facilities are designed to provide on-time
and fast-response customer-order deliveries, handle a wide piece mix and SKU
quantity, handle a smaller customer-order size or SKU quantity, and meet a high
requirement for accurate order-fulfillment or across-the-dock sorting with minimal
errors and damage.

E-COMMERCE AND THE INTERNET


E-commerce and the Internet have dramatically changed the order-fulfillment or
across-the-dock customer-order profile. These new technologies have increased the
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Strategic Considerations 5

number and frequency of customer orders, the importance of accurate order entry,
and the piece mix. They have also decreased the order size (in pieces) per customer
order and reduced the order/delivery cycle time.

OVERVIEW
The purpose of this book is to provide the reader with equipment applications,
procedures, practices, tips, and insights to consider implementing in an order-
fulfillment or across-the-dock operation. The book will also provide readers with an
opportunity to maximize their companys profits by reducing logistics operating
costs, and maximize customer service with on-time and accurate deliveries.
SL0446_C01.fm Page 6 Wednesday, November 19, 2003 2:42 PM
SL0446_C02.fm Page 7 Wednesday, November 19, 2003 2:43 PM

2 Order-Fulfillment and
Across-the-Dock
Objectives and Their
Impact on Your
Companys Profit and
Customer Service

INTRODUCTION
This chapter defines the order-fulfillment and across-the-dock operation objectives
of your company and customers. The chapter objectives are (1) to list and review
order-fulfillment and across-the-dock activities, and (2) to provide techniques for
design, facility construction, equipment installation, planning, and control.

ORDER-FULFILLMENT ACTIVITIES
In most small-item, flat wear, garments on hangers (GOH), master carton, or pallet
order-fulfillment operations, the same activities occur, regardless of the size of the
distribution operation or whether the operation involves manual, mechanized, or
automatic pick processes. The distribution activity groups are (1) preorder pick
activities, (2) order pick activities, and (3) postorder pick activities.

ACROSS-THE-DOCK ACTIVITIES
The same distribution activities occur in most small-item, flat wear, GOH, master
carton, or pallet across-the-dock operations. These include vendor control, unload-
ing, sorting, and loading.
Specifically, these activities involve (1) fulfilling vendor packaging specifica-
tions, applying a customer-discrete identification to each piece exterior, and, in the
retail industry, attaching a price ticket to each piece; (2) unloading, counting, label-
ling and receiving; (3) sorting; (4) creating the manifest; (5) transferring any residual

7
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8 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

inventory to a store, hold, and pick area; (6) loading and shipping; and (7) fulfilling
customer delivery.

PIECE-HANDLING CHARACTERISTICS
As pieces flow through a companys supply chain, there is a good possibility that
there will be a change to the piece characteristics. This is particularly the case during
order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation activities with their associated piece
flow patterns. Changes might include:

A small-item order-fulfillment operation receives stock-keeping units


(SKUs) on pallets or master cartons and sends individual pieces and
master cartons to your companys customers.
A GOH order-fulfillment operation receives large SKU quantities and
sends individual and multiple GOH pieces to your companys customers.
A carton order-fulfillment operation receives pallets or cartons and sends
individual cartons or several cartons or pallets to your companys customers.
A pallet distribution order-fulfillment operation receives pallets and sends
one or several pallets to your companys customers.

A characteristic of order-fulfillment operations is that the piece flow is defined


as a store and hold product flow method. With the store and hold product flow
method, pieces are transferred through the piece facility storage and pick positions.
With each customer order, pieces are withdrawn from the storage or pick position
and sent to the customer dock staging area or are loaded directly onto a customer
delivery truck. In an order-fulfillment operation, the piece flow pattern steps are (1)
from the receiving area to the storage area; (2) from the storage position to a pick
position; and (3) from the pick position into a customer shipping carton or into a
captive container through the pack area, to the manifest area, and into a customer
staging area or directly onto a customer delivery truck.
With an across-the-dock operation, as a piece flows through the distribution
operation, there is a slight possibility of a change in the piece handling character-
istics. In most across-the-dock operations, if the piece is received as a pallet, the
piece shipped to the customer is a master carton or pallet. With a small-item, flat
wear, or GOH across-the-dock operation, the operation receives master cartons, flat-
pack GOH SKUs, or a large GOH quantity. The operation then sends individual or
multiple small items, flat wear, or GOH SKUs to customers.
The across-the-dock operation characteristic is that the pieces are not entered
into the distribution facility inventory. All vendor pieces for an across-the-dock
operation are customer-ordered SKUs. These SKUs are separated into individual
customer orders from a mix of customer-ordered pieces. After the sorting activity,
the individual customer pieces are quickly consolidated into a shipping container,
staged in the customer-assigned location on the shipping dock, or sent directly onto
the customer delivery truck. Any residual piece inventory is placed according to a
store and hold method.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 9

ORDER-FULFILLMENT OPERATION OBJECTIVE


The order-fulfillment operation objective is to ensure that SKUs meet company
quality standards, which require that the correct SKU is transferred from the storage
position to the correct pick position, in sufficient quantity and at the appropriate
time. Standards furthermore require that SKUs are withdrawn in the right quantity,
in the correct condition, and on schedule; they must have a packing list, be packaged
in a protective and labeled shipping container, be properly manifested, and be
delivered to a customer delivery location within the customer-order and delivery
cycle time. These order-fulfillment activities, successfully completed, satisfy your
customer-order requirement at the lowest possible operating cost.

ACROSS-THE-DOCK OPERATION OBJECTIVE


The across-the-dock operation objective is to ensure that (1) each piece meets company
standards, (2) each piece is properly packaged and labeled with a customer discrete
identification, (3) each piece is unloaded at the proper time and sorted or separated
by customer identification, (4) the total piece count matches the vendor manifest, and
(5) the purchase order (PO) piece quantity is sent either to the customer-assigned
staging area or directly to the customer delivery truck. A customer delivery truck
ensures that customer-ordered pieces arrive at the customer delivery location at a
specific time that satisfies your customer demand at the lowest operating cost.

ORDER-FULFILLMENT AND ACROSS-THE-DOCK


OPERATION ACTIVITIES
To achieve these order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operational objectives, you
must design your facility and equipment layout and piece and information (or
customer order) flow patterns to minimize piece handlings, ensure an efficient and
cost-effective operation, ensure accurate and on-time piece and information flows
through your company supply chain, and complete operational transactions that
satisfy your customers orders.
Order-fulfillment operation activities may be categorized as follows:

Preorder pick activities


Vendor or customer delivery truck yard control
Unloading and palletizing pieces
Receiving and SKU quality and quantity check
Ensuring that a discrete identification is placed on each piece or SKU
Packaging, labeling, and placing a price ticket on each SKU for some
small-item, flat wear, or GOH SKUs
Internal transport activity
Depositing in a storage position
Inventory control
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10 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Order pick activities


Information management system (IMS) customer-order entry and
download to print order pick documents and order pick labels, or, for
paperless pick, download to the pick area or to an automatic pick
machine microcomputer
Carton makeup, labeling, and packing list (attached or inserted into a
pick container)
Manual order pick or computer impulse to release a SKU from a pick
position
Piece replenishment from the reserve storage position to the SKU pick
position
Trash removal
Postorder pick activities
Order pick quality or quantity check, as required
Filling container voids
Sealing the container
Labeling and manifesting the customer-order shipping container
Loading
Shipping
Handling customer returns
Handling out-of-season pieces
Handling transfers
Maintenance, sanitation, and loss prevention activities

An across-the-dock operation is considered a more streamlined company distri-


bution-logistics strategy, with activities that include vendor control, vendor and
customer delivery yard control, quality control (counting and sorting), and small-
item packing and loading onto a customer delivery truck. During the across-the-
dock operation, other activities include:

Vendor piece preparation


Vendor and customer delivery truck yard control
IMS downloading and customer discrete label creation
Unloading, receiving, and labeling SKUs
Quality control (counting, sorting, or separating by customer identification)
Packaging and manifesting
Separating into units with other customer-order SKUs in a customer-
assigned staging area, or loading directly onto a customer delivery truck
Storing and holding residual pieces and handling customer returns, out-
of-season pieces, and transfers
Customer delivery
Maintenance, sanitation, and loss prevention

YARD CONTROL
At an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation, yard control activity ensures
that the appropriate vendor delivery truck or oceangoing container is spotted at the
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 11

correct receiving dock and that the customer delivery truck is spotted at the correct
shipping dock. Whenever possible, the receiving dock assigned to a vendor delivery
truck minimizes the internal transportation distance from the dock to the stor-
age/pick position, or from the customer-order manifest area to the customer ship-
ping dock door.
With some store and hold operations, the yard control activity includes spotting
vendor railcars on your rail spur. The railcar spot on the rail spur ensures the shortest
internal transport distance from the railcar receiving dock to the piece storage
location.

UNLOADING

With an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation, the piece unloading activity


involves unloading small-item master cartons, GOH on trolleys or carts, master
cartons, or pallets from a vendor delivery truck, container, or railcar onto the receiv-
ing dock staging area. After a quality and quantity check, pieces are transferred
according to internal transport procedure. With an across-the-dock operation, a piece
is directly moved from a vendor delivery truck; through quality control, counting,
and sorting; and to the customer-assigned dock staging area or directly onto a
customer delivery truck.
With an order-fulfillment operation, a piece is quality- and quantity-checked and
transferred from a vendor delivery vehicle according to internal transport procedure.
After a piece is transferred to internal transport, the piece is moved from the dock
area to the assigned storage or pick position. After a customer orders a SKU, the
SKU is withdrawn, prepared for shipment, manifested, and loaded onto a customer
delivery truck.

VERIFYING PIECE QUALITY AND QUANTITY

In an order-fulfillment operation, the next preorder pick activity is to verify that


vendor piece quality and quantity meet your companys PO and piece specifications.
This activity ensures that (1) the SKU quantity delivered to your order-fulfillment
operation matches your companys PO quantity, and (2) the received piece quality
is per your companys PO specifications and quality standard.
In an across-the-dock operation, piece quality and quantity characteristics are
considered vital to an efficient and cost-effective piece flow. Across-the-dock piece
quality and quantity characteristics are key components that ensure a continuous
piece flow through your supply chain. To ensure accurate SKU quantity and quality
per your companys piece standards and PO specifications, pieces are randomly
checked at the vendor location or at your companys receiving dock.

RECEIVING

At order-fulfillment facilities, the next preorder pick activity is the receiving activity.
A company employee physically transfers the SKU from a vendor delivery truck,
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12 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

enters the SKU quantity into the warehouse management system (WMS) inventory,
and transports the SKU to the storage or pick position staging area.
In an across-the-dock operation, the piece is transferred from a vendor delivery
truck through transport and sorting to a customer-assigned shipping dock staging
area, or directly onto a customer delivery truck.
Following your companys procedures, piece samples are taken to the quality
control area for inspection. In order-fulfillment operations, the vendor pieces are
transferred from the dock area to a storage area position. In the storage area position,
the pieces are placed on a Quality Assurance (QA) hold status until QA approves
or rejects the samples. If QA approves the piece quality, the pieces are available for
the order-fulfillment activity. If QA rejects the piece quality, the pieces are held in
the storage area position for vendor disposition and are not available for the order-
fulfillment pick activity.

PIECE IDENTIFICATION
The fifth order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation activity is the SKU identifi-
cation activity. During an order-fulfillment operation at the receiving dock, if the
SKUs are not vendor-labeled, an employee places a code on each piece, master
carton, GOH trolley or cart, or pallet exterior surface. In an order-fulfillment oper-
ation, the code is used in other facility functions to distinguish one SKU from another.
The code has alpha characters and numeric digits, bar codes, or radio frequency (RF)
tags that serve as an instruction to the employee who handles the piece. For small-
item operations, in the receiving dock area the SKU identification activity is per-
formed after a group of SKUs are placed in a material handling or shipping container.
With across-the-dock operations, the piece vendor applies the appropriate cus-
tomer discrete label onto a single item, GOH, carton, pallet, or piece exterior surface.
If the piece is not vendor-labeled with a customer-discrete label, an across-the-dock
receiving employee applies a discrete label onto each pieces exterior surface.

Ticketing

In some retail store order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operations, a sub-activity


to the SKU identification activity is the individual SKU price ticketing activity. An
employee or machine places a price ticket onto each individual SKU or sale piece.
This price ticket activity is very common in GOH, flat wear, small-item, or master
carton (ready for retail sale) distribution operations.
In a price ticketing activity, a mechanical printer prints the price tickets. A price
ticket is a label that is glued, clipped, stitched, or hooked onto the SKU or placed
on the SKU exterior surface.

PACKAGING
The next order-fulfillment activity is the SKU packaging activity. In a small-item pack-
aging activity, an employee places an individual SKU or a SKU group into a material
handling or shipping container. Containers include plastic bags, paper bags, chipboard
boxes, and cardboard boxes. In a GOH operation that receives flat-pack garments, each
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 13

piece is transferred from a vendor box to a hanger. The individual GOH piece is placed
in a plastic or paper bag. In a carton and pallet load operation, the packaging activity
ensures that the cartons are properly sealed and are secured on a pallet.

HORIZONTAL OR VERTICAL TRANSPORTATION


The next preorder pick activity in an order-fulfillment operation is internal horizontal
or vertical transport from the receiving dock staging area to the storage and pick
staging area. With an across-the-dock operation, the piece transport activity moves
the pieces from the receiving dock area through the sorting area to a customer
shipping dock staging area or directly onto a customer delivery truck. Manual or
mechanized transport is used in the transport activity.

STORAGE
In an order-fulfillment operation, the piece storage activity provides a distribution
facility with a physical position to store a SKU. When required by a customer-order,
the SKU is transferred from the storage position to the pick position.
In an across-the-dock operation, any residual piece inventory is transferred to
the storage or pick position.

DEPOSIT
The next preorder pick activity in an order-fulfillment operation is to deposit the
pieces to the assigned storage or pick position. An accurate and on-time completion
of the deposit activity ensures that the right SKU is in the proper place, in the proper
quantity, in the correct condition, and at the correct time. The piece deposit activity
permits on-time pick position replenishment.

INVENTORY CONTROL
The next order-fulfillment operation activity is the inventory control activity. The
inventory control activity ensures that pieces are transferred to the correct storage
or pick position in the correct quantity. Other WMS or inventory control concerns
are (1) ensuring proper piece rotation, (2) using accurate SKU counts, (3) employing
minimal stock outs and out of stocks at the pick position,* (4) tracking the piece
flow through the supply chain or through each segment, and (5) verifying that each
logistics segment transaction is completed.

IMS CUSTOMER-ORDER DOWNLOAD


The next order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation activity is the IMS depart-
ment customer-order receipt, order entry processing, and transfer to a pick line

* A stock out occurs when, per a customer order, a pick instruction (an employee or automated pick
device) arrives at a pick location and the pick position is depleted, but the inventory file indicates an on-
hand SKU inventory quantity. An out of stock occurs when, per a customer-order, a pick instruction arrives
at a pick position, the pick position is depleted, and the inventory file has no on-hand inventory quantity.
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14 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

printer, unloading dock printer, microcomputer, or automatic pick machine. The


IMS customer-order download activity ensures that (1) the proper pick documents,
self-adhesive labels for a batched customer-order, or individual customer orders are
cubed, per a customer shipping carton or delivery truck; (2) the items are ready for
the order pick activity; and (3) customer orders are properly sequenced and available
for a paperless pick line start station or for traveling through an automatic pick
machine.

CARTON OR SHIPPING CONTAINER MAKEUP


For a small-item, flat wear, or GOH order-fulfillment operation, the next operation
activity is the customer-order carton or container makeup and entry to the pick line
activity. In an order-fulfillment operation, an employee picks a customer-ordered
SKU into a captive customer-order container or shipping carton. In a batched cus-
tomer-order pick and sort operation, customer shipping carton makeup is performed
at a pack station.
Per the SKU quantity of the customer-order, SKU cube characteristics, container
size, material, and weight, and per customer delivery requirements and company
practices, an employee or machine transfers a formed carton or customer shipping
container onto a pick line or onto a pick vehicle. A small-item, one-piece corrugated
carton has sealed bottom flaps for easy handling and transport over a conveyor
surface. If a two-piece carton is used on a pick line, the carton bottom piece is placed
under the carton top piece. At the end of the pick line, the top is placed onto the
carton opening.
Other container types are considered captive containers. These containers are
made of plastic, wood, or metal. Small-item pick containers have optional open tops,
handles, or hand grips; meshed sides and bottoms; stacking and nesting components;
and three side guards with one open side.
In a GOH operation, the device is a plastic, metal, or wood hanger. To ensure
efficient movement in a GOH operation, the hanger size, hook dimensions, and
material are standard. When GOH pieces are prepared for a customer-order delivery,
the GOH shipping container options include paper bag, plastic bag, flat box, box
hang bar, delivery truck rope loop, and cart hang bar.

CUSTOMER-ORDER PICK
In a small-item, flat wear, GOH, master carton, or pallet operation, the next order-
fulfillment activity is the customer-order pick activity. After a customer-order pick
instruction is printed or downloaded to a microcomputer, an employee or pick
machine transfers the proper SKU and SKU quantity from the pick position to a
transport conveyor, into a container, or onto a vehicle load carrying surface. At the
pack station, customer-ordered and picked SKUs are consolidated and packaged in
a shipping carton and then held in the assigned customer staging area or loaded
directly onto a customer delivery truck.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 15

SORTING
When an order-fulfillment operation processes batched orders, or when an across-
the-dock operation processes pieces or customer orders, the piece or customer-order
sorting activity is the key to an accurate and on-time shipping activity. The sorting
activity allows an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation to handle a high
customer-order and piece volume. In an order-fulfillment operation, the sorting
activity is the first postorder pick activity. When a single-item, flat wear, or master
carton order pick activity is in the batched customer-order mode, the sorting activity
separates each customer-ordered and discrete-labeled single item, flat wear, or master
carton from a mix of customer-ordered and discrete-labeled pieces. The sorting
activity verifies that the SKU was withdrawn from a pick position and was trans-
ported to a customer-order packing area or directly onto a customer delivery truck.
In an across-the-dock operation, the mixed customer-ordered and discrete-
labeled SKUs, master cartons, or pieces are unloaded from a vendor delivery truck
and sorted. Per each piece sorting or customer-discrete label, the sorting activity
transfers each piece or master carton from the sorting travel path to the customer
sorting holding area or direct-load conveyor lane.
The SKU sorting components include:

A human, machine, or human-machine bar code label that is on each


pieces exterior surface
Piece transport and sorting with a constant travel speed
A communication network that involves a bar code scanner, a tracking
procedure, a microcomputer, and a divert device
A divert lane with queue space

The pieces or customer orders are individuated on a sorting conveyor travel path,
and, with the proper gap between two pieces or customer orders, a bar code scanner
reads the bar code. The bar code scanner sends the bar code data over the commu-
nication network to the microcomputer. While maintaining a constant travel speed,
the microcomputer and tracking device activate a divert device at the appropriate
time in order to transfer the assigned piece or customer-order from the sorting
conveyor travel path to the customer temporary holding rack location, outbound
staging area, or customer delivery truck. Per the SKU and operation sorting location
is a bin, container, chute, or conveyor.
Manual or mechanized active, passive, and active-passive SKU sorting requires
manual- or automatic-discrete identification. Identification requires a manual iden-
tification code, a bar code, or an RF tag on each piece, as well as data entry and
communications technology.

REPLENISHMENT
In an order-fulfillment operation involving single items, flat wear, GOH, or master
cartons, SKU replenishment is another postorder pick activity. SKU replenishment
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16 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

ensures that the correct SKU is removed from an assigned storage position on
schedule and in the proper quantity, and is placed in the correct SKU pick position.
The SKU replenishment steps are as follows:

List the SKU pick positions that require replenishment.


Prioritize SKU quantity withdrawal from the storage area.
Transfer the SKU to a SKU pick position.
Verify completion of the replenishment transaction.
Update the storage and pick position inventory file.

In a small-item, flat wear, GOH, or master carton order-fulfillment operation,


an employee transfers pieces from a random storage position to a fixed pick position.
In a pallet operation, the piece or pallet deposit from the receiving dock to an assigned
storage position is a replenishment activity.

PACKAGING
In an order-fulfillment operation, outbound SKU packaging is the next postorder
pick activity. Its objective is to ensure that the SKU is protected from damage during
delivery from your facility to a customer delivery location and that the SKU is
received by your customer in satisfactory condition. In the distribution business, the
condition of a SKUs exterior package is your customers first impression of your
companys order-fulfillment service. This fact is especially true for catalog,
E-commerce, and direct mail businesses.
The packaging activity functions are to verify the SKU quality and quantity
order pick accuracy; with filler material, fill the voids in the customer shipping
carton; seal or close the shipping container bottom and top flaps or bag; place your
customer delivery address label in the appropriate location onto a shipping carton
exterior surface; and transfer the package onto the transport method.
Most SKU packaging activities are in a small-item or GOH operation. The SKU
packaging activities for a carton or a pallet load operation are to unpack cartons
onto a pallet or cart, secure the cartons to a cart or pallet, label the master carton
or pallet, and transfer the carton or pallet to a shipping staging area or onto a customer
delivery vehicle.

PACKAGE SEALING
At a small-item or hanging garment order-fulfillment operation, the next activity is
your customer package seal activity. The delivery carton seal activity ensures that
your customer shipping carton does not open during transport from your operation
to your customers delivery address, and that when the package is delivered to a
customer delivery address, the SKUs are in the package.
The sealing method for a package is to pack multiple SKUs loosely in one large
container, or to pack an individual SKU or a few SKUs in the appropriate sized
container, bag, or carton. The customer-order shipping container is sealed with a
self-seal method, tape, plastic bands, or plastic wrap.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 17

PACKAGE WEIGHING AND MANIFEST

At an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation, the next activities are the ship-


ping carton weighing and manifest activities. The customer-order shipping carton
weighing and manifest activities objectives are to ensure that each customer carton
receives the proper transport fee or postage; list the customer-discrete identification
number and weight; send the package by the most cost-effective transport method;
have the proper documentation in the customer-order shipping carton; obtain the
exact weight and manifest per the customer-discrete identification number; and verify
that the customer-order was completed by your operation.
The carton weighing and manifest activities are to use a scale that shows the
exact weight for each carton, verify that the actual carton weight and computer
projected carton weight match within a variance, and ensure that the customer
discrete identification is listed on the transport document. With the computer pro-
jected weight method, the scale interface is direct to the host computer or to a
microcomputer. The microcomputer has received the customer-order carton com-
puter projected weight from the host computer.

LOADING AND SHIPPING ACTIVITIES

The carton loading and shipping operation functions are considered the next direct
labor function. The loading and shipping function ensures that your customer-order
shipping carton is transferred from the sorting travel path and onto your customer
delivery truck. The loading and shipping function is a direct load activity or an
activity to temporarily hold the customer-order shipping containers in the shipping
staging area, or at a later time to load them onto a customer delivery truck.

CUSTOMER RETURN, OUT-OF-SEASON, AND TRANSFER

With an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation, the next distribution or trans-


port department activity is to handle customer pieces, returns, and out-of-season
pieces between two retail customer locations.
The customer return activity is an activity that occurs in all industries. It is most
evident (varying from 5 to 38% of the shipped volume) in the catalog, E-commerce,
and direct mail industries. In the carton handling industry, the customer return
estimated rate is 1 to 5% of the volume that is shipped to customers.
The customer return activity ensures that your customer returned order quantity
was received at your facility; that your customer received the appropriate credit; and
that the returned merchandise physically flows through your facility and is returned
and entered in inventory, placed in a SKU pick position, sent to an outlet store,
donated to charity, disposed in the trash, or returned to the vendor.
Out-of-season pieces and transfer activities occur in the retail and catalog indus-
try. The out-of-season piece activity is a distribution activity to hold temporarily in
a storage position pieces that did not sell at a retail store or to customers. With your
companys top management approval, the retail outlet places the SKUs into packages
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18 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

and returns the out-of-season pieces to the distribution facility for temporary storage.
At a later date when all the stores have returned the out-of-season pieces to the
distribution facility, the companys top management decides how to handle the out-
of-season pieces.
Piece transfers are overstock merchandise moves from a retail store location
with low sales, through the distribution or transport system, to another retail store
location that has high sales for the merchandise. With your companys top manage-
ment approval, and with the proper documentation, the merchandise becomes a piece
transfer that flows from one store to another store through your companys distri-
bution and transportation operations as an across-the-dock piece.

ACROSS-THE-DOCK OPERATIONS
The across-the-dock operation activities that are similar to the order-fulfillment
operation activities are using customer and vendor delivery truck yard control;
receiving and unloading pieces; downloading customer orders from the host com-
puter to the microcomputer; sorting customer orders; separating into units at a
shipping staging dock area or directly loading them onto a customer delivery truck;
manifesting; and storing and holding the residual inventory.
An across-the-dock operations unique activities are IMS host computer down-
load of the customer orders to a microcomputer and customer shipping label print
time. In an across-the-dock application, the host computer downloads customer
orders through a microcomputer to the print machine; this occurs prior to a vendor
delivery truck space at the receiving dock. If the across-the-dock pieces are not
vendor labeled, during the piece unloading process an across-the-dock employee or
label machine places a customer-discrete identification onto each pieces exterior
surface.

MAINTENANCE, SANITATION, AND SECURITY


The remaining key order-fulfillment and across-the-dock operational functions are
the maintenance, sanitation, and security activities. These activities objectives are
to protect your companys assets and to ensure that the inventory, building, and
equipment are available to satisfy your customer orders and operate at the lowest
possible cost.

ON-SCHEDULE AND ACCURATE PERFORMANCE OF


AN ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-DOCK
OPERATION AND CUSTOMER DELIVERY ACTIVITIES
MEANS PROFITS AND SATISFIED CUSTOMERS
The effective and efficient completion of the preorder pick, order pick, and postorder
pick order-fulfillment activities or across-the-dock piece activities and customer
delivery activities ensure that your companys customers are satisfied with the best
service. When these activities are completed on schedule and at the lowest cost, the
SKU, SKU package, and documentation makes a positive and lasting impression on
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 19

your companys customers. This impression ensures that your order-fulfillment or


across-the-dock operation is profitable and has satisfied customers.

WHY IS AN ACCURATE, EFFICIENT, AND COST-EFFECTIVE ORDER-


FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-DOCK OPERATION IMPORTANT?
An accurate, efficient, and cost-effective order-fulfillment or across-the-dock oper-
ation is important to your company. It is the company department plus customer
delivery truck activity that performs the last customer-order or piece handling
before it arrives at your customer location. Furthermore, it is the customer receiving
the order on time, accurately, and without damage who determines the customer
service quality.
When compared to the other distribution facility operational activities and
departments, the order-fulfillment, pick position replenishment, label, pick, sort, fill,
check, seal, manifest, and loading and across-the-dock activities combined have the
largest number of employees. The facts are that the manual order-fulfillment method
has the largest employee number, the mechanized order-fulfillment method has a
medium employee number, and the automatic order-fulfillment method has the
smallest employee number.
With this large employee number, the conclusions are that the order-fulfillment
method costs as a percentage of the total order-fulfillment or across-the-dock oper-
ational costs have the highest dollar amount. As a cost percentage in relation to sales,
it has the highest percentage, while as a cost per piece handled, it has the highest
dollar amount. As a line item on an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock segment
annual operating expense statement or budget, it has the highest dollar amount.
When a company expands its piece mix, changes the product mix, increases the
SKU number, or increases the customer number or customer orders, this operation
has the greatest ability to efficiently and cost-effectively handle the new business
volume or SKU growth, and to maintain the customer service standard.

WHAT IS THE STANDARD FOR A GOOD ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR


ACROSS-THE-DOCK OPERATION?
The standard for a good order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation is the com-
panys basic performance standard. This basic performance standard is common to
any size company that is in any industry whether it serves a retail, industrial,
E-commerce, direct mail, catalog, or personal consumer customer group.
The order-fulfillment basic performance standard is to provide the best customer
service at the lowest possible cost. Stated in the broadest terms, the order-fulfillment
standard is to ensure that the right SKU is in the correct pick position in sufficient
quantity at the appropriate time; is withdrawn in the right quantity, in the correct
condition, on schedule; is packaged in a protective and labeled shipping carton; and
is properly manifested and delivered to the customer delivery location at the lowest
possible operating cost.
The across-the-dock performance standard is very similar to the order-fulfillment
performance standard. The across-the-dock basic performance standard is to ensure
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20 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

that the correct piece quantity is unloaded, labeled correctly, properly sorted by
customer-order quantity, and staged with the other customer pieces or loaded directly
onto the customer delivery truck; the delivery truck must also arrive at the correct
customer delivery location at the scheduled time. These across-the-dock activities
are performed at the lowest possible operating cost.

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR


ACROSS-THE-DOCK OPERATION
To maintain your companys customer service standard and to operate your order-
fulfillment or across-the-dock operation at the lowest possible cost, you must
improve your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation. Whether your order-
fulfillment operation has a manual, mechanized, or automated method, or the across-
the-dock operation has a manual or mechanized method, the potential customer
service or operating cost improvement areas are as follows. Look at the employee
numbers for each activity. Develop a customer service standard. Consider batched
customer orders and pallet handling with dual cycle activities. Reduce order picker
travel time and distance. Improve the SKU hit pick concentration and hit density.
Use the ABC or power SKU allocation method. Use kit or family group SKUs.
Use clear and simple pick instructions, pick position identification, and sorting
instructions. Use an employee or order picker routing sequence. Cube your
employee or automatic pick machine work. Provide queue space. Level the work
volume over the week work days. Use part-time employees. Apply the golden zone
theory to the SKU pick positions. Change from a paper order pick document method
to a self-adhesive label, paperless order pick, or automatic order pick method.
Develop a good equipment layout, piece flow, and facility layout. Provide clean
and clear aisles. Ensure well lighted aisles. Change from a human-paced to a
machine-paced method. Use nonpowered or powered equipment. Use automatic
identification in the order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method. For each workday,
provide the employee with sufficient work. With a historically high customer-order
volume for a small single SKU, or a historically high volume for several SKUs,
pick and pack these SKUs off-line. Ensure on-time and accurate pick position
replenishment to the pick aisle or along the pick line. Have a properly designed
order picker or pick line start location. In a pick aisle or along a pick line, ensure
an arithmetic progression. Place pick position numbers that end with even digits
on the pick aisles right side and place pick position that end with odd digits on
the pick aisles left side. For the majority of the time, keep the order picker in the
pick aisle or on the pick line.

LOOK AT THE EMPLOYEE NUMBERS


The first guideline to improve your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation
is to look at the employee numbers. This means that you identify the employee
order-fulfillment or across-the-dock activities that have the highest employee num-
ber, labor cost plus fringe benefits, or operational cost factor.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 21

The other operational factors are overtime; piece, building, or equipment dam-
age; order pick overages, shortages, or errors; off-schedule customer-order deliver-
ies; and employee injuries. An employee productivity improvement in the order-
fulfillment or across-the-dock operational activity with a high employee number has
the greatest impact on your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation in total
employee productivity, annual operating expenses, and ability to provide on-schedule
and accurate customer service.

DEVELOP A STANDARD
The second step to improve your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation is
to develop an operational employee productivity standard. The order-fulfillment
or across-the-dock employee productivity standard is an employee productivity
figure. This figure states your operations production as customer orders, cartons,
or pieces in a measurement factor that was completed by your operations total
employee work hours or costs. In an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation,
employee productivity is the key factor to project the labor expense line for the
annual expense budget.

USE BATCHED CUSTOMER ORDERS AND DUAL-CYCLE ACTIVITIES


The third operation improvement guideline is a specific guideline to improve your
order-fulfillment activity. This guideline is to batch your customer orders or ordered
SKUs. Batched customer orders means that your computer program groups together
a specific customer-order number and prints order pick instructions for these specific
customer ordered SKUs. The customer-ordered SKU requirement for printing is per
SKUs that are sequenced by pick position number on self-adhesive pick labels or
sequenced by pick position lines on a paper pick document or downloaded to a radio
frequency (RF) pick device. This SKU pick position sequential print for picker
instructions permits the order picker to pick the ordered SKU quantity for all
customer orders within the batch. The batched customer-order pick activity options
are first, with a paper pick document or RF device, to place the picked SKU
immediately into a customer-order holding location. This approach is used for small
items, flat wear, or GOH pieces. With the second option, after a label pick activity,
the picked and labeled SKUs are placed into the appropriate customer sorting
location. With the third option, after a label pick activity, the picked and labeled
SKUs are sent as a group to a sorting area. In the sorting area, the SKUs are separated
to the appropriate customer sorting/packing/staging location. This approach is used
for loose small items, flat wear, cartons, or GOH pieces.
The batched customer-order pick method increases order picker productivity due
to a reduction in the order picker travel distance and a reduction in the repetitive
employee order pick activities. The method requires a computer program, computer
time, sorting method, sorting location, sorting labor, and sorting time. Most order-
fulfillment professionals believe that the batched customer-order pick method pro-
vides picker productivity improvements that substantially offset the sorting activity
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22 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

costs. This method has applications in a small-item, flat wear, GOH, or carton order-
fulfillment operation.
In a pallet-handling operation, a pallet dual cycle activity is most effective for
a forklift truck or automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) operation. The
dual-cycle activity has the forklift truck enter a storage aisle, travel down the aisle
to the assigned storage position, perform the storage deposit transaction, continue
travel in the same storage aisle to another storage position, complete a withdrawal
transaction, and exit the storage aisle.
When a dual-cycle activity is compared to a single-cycle activity, the dual-cycle
activity improves forklift truck productivity by approximately 20%. To achieve this
productivity increase, storage areas have storage aisle pallet pickup and delivery
(P/D) stations. A P/D station provides an opportunity to balance the in and out pallet
storage transactions per aisle. The required forklift truck or ASRS storage transac-
tions are preprinted on a document or are available online.

REDUCE TRAVEL TIME AND DISTANCE


The next operational improvement guideline is to reduce your order picker travel
time and distance between two pick positions. Small-item, GOH, or carton order-
fulfillment operations have a large SKU number that varies in size, weight, and pick
volume, and the order-fulfillment area has many pick positions and aisles. As an
order picker travels through a pick aisle or along a pick line between two pick
positions, this represents unproductive travel time and distance. In a small-item, flat
wear, GOH, or carton order-fulfillment operation, a dramatic order picker produc-
tivity increase results from decreasing the order picker unproductive travel time and
distance between two pick positions.

IMPROVE THE SKU HIT CONCENTRATION AND HIT DENSITY


The next element to improve your order picker productivity is to improve the SKU
hit concentration and SKU hit density. To do this, you allocate on a pick line or
along a pick line your SKUs according to Paretos law (the 80/20 rule, named after
Vilfredo Pareto [18481923], Italian economist), which states that 80% of your pick
volume is derived from 20% of your SKUs.
The SKU hit concentration means the SKU number that is ordered by your
customers or lines (stops or hits) within a particular pick aisle or along a pick line,
or the pick position number within one aisle that has SKUs withdrawn for a customer-
order. The SKU hit density is the SKU number (quantity) that a customer-order has
of a particular SKU (one pick position) or the number (hit quantity) for one SKU
to complete a customer-order line.
High SKU hit concentration and SKU hit density dramatically improve order
picker productivity due to the reduction in travel time and distance between two
picks (hits or pick positions). For best results in a single-item pick onto a conveyor,
into a tote or carton, or carton pick to conveyor order-fulfillment operation, the order
pickers are assigned to pick line zones or specific pick aisle numbers. Order-fulfill-
ment professionals believe that the grouping of slow-moving (low-hit) SKUs
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 23

improves the hit concentration and hit density for these SKUs, increasing the
employee productivity for the order-fulfillment operation.

USE ABC OR POWER SKU ALLOCATION


When an order-fulfillment area layout is based on SKU popularity, it is based on
Paretos law. This law states that 80% of the wealth is held by 20% of the people.
In the small-item, flat wear, GOH, carton, or pallet order-fulfillment industry, this
law indicates that 80% of the volume shipped to your customers is derived from
20% of your SKUs. Many studies have indicated that another 10% of the volume
shipped to your customers results from another 30% of your SKUs, and that an
additional 5% of your volume shipped to your customers is attributed to 55% of
your SKUs. If you are in the catalog or direct mail business with 2 to 4 catalogs
introduced within a year, then 90 to 95% of your business is from 5% of your SKUs.
This is because each catalog has a different inventory of SKUs. In recent studies,
the results show that 95% of your volume shipped to your customers is obtained
from 55% of your SKUs, which is referred to as Paretos law revisited.

ABC Theory

When a distribution professional refers to Paretos law and its three zones, their
reference is to the ABC theory. The ABC theory simply states that a distribution
operations pick aisle or pick line zones are as follows. The A pick zone is allocated
to the fast-moving SKUs. These SKUs are few in number and have a large inventory
quantity per SKU. The B zone is allocated to the medium-moving SKUs. These
SKUs are medium in number and have a medium inventory quantity per SKU. The
C zone is allocated to the slow-moving SKUs. These SKUs are large in number and
have a small inventory quantity per SKU.
If a distribution operation layout has receiving and shipping docks that are
located on the facilitys front side and a SKUs pick location is based on the ABC
theory, it locates the fast-moving SKUs at the pick lines front.
If a distribution operations receiving and shipping docks are located on a
buildings opposite sides, the fast-moving SKUs are located by the unloading and
loading ratio. The unloading and loading ratio compares the trip number that unload-
ing and loading employees require to handle a piece delivery truck. When an
employee unloading trip number equals an employee loading trip number, the SKU
or pallet is located near the shipping docks or in any location in the pick aisle. When
employee unloading trips are more numerous than employee loading trips, the SKU
or pallet is located near the receiving docks. This feature reduces your order picker
employee total travel distance and time.

Power or Fast-Moving SKUs in One Pick Area

The next order-fulfillment productivity improvement guideline is to have the power


or fast-moving SKUs located in one pick aisle or pick zone. This method has an
inventory (SKU) allocation program that locates all fast-moving SKUs into pick
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24 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

positions that are within one pick aisle or pick zone. These pick positions are
adjacent to one another. This philosophy has all your promotional, seasonal, special
sale, and fast-moving SKUs in one pick aisle or pick line zone. This SKU arrange-
ment increases your order picker hit concentration (picks per aisle number) and hit
density (hits per SKU number). A high hit concentration and hit density means
high order picker and replenishment employee productivity due to a short travel
distance between two pick positions. The key to an accurate, efficient, and on-time
small-item, flat wear, GOH, carton, or pallet order-fulfillment operation with the
power SKUs in one area method is to have the storage pieces available to replenish
a pick position and to have a completed customer-order or picked SKU take-away
transport method.

USE KIT OR FAMILY GROUP SKUS


The next order-fulfillment improvement guideline concentrates on the pick area SKU
allocation. In addition to the SKUs handled, SKU popularity, or Paretos law and
mobile order pick vehicle travel distance, good pick area layout is dictated by your
companys requirement that the SKUs are sorted or sent to the customer by family
group. With this guideline, by a predetermined criterion, the SKUs are assigned to
specific pick positions. This location is one or multiple pick aisles or one or multiple
pick zones within a pick line or pick aisle. This pick aisle or pick line layout
philosophy requires that the order-fulfillment pick positions and method are designed
to accommodate SKUs that have similar characteristics. These are to have similar
dimensions, weight, and SKU material components; to have components for the
same final product; to be located in the same aisle in a retail store; to require normal,
refrigerated, or freezer conditions; to require high security; to be separated into long
or short GOH; to be separated by toxic or nontoxic materials; to have one style
(such as musical for shoes) or all sizes; to be separated by edible or inedible; to be
separated by flammable or nonflammable; to be separated by flat wear type, such
as by style and color with all sizes; and to be separated into stackable and non-
stackable pieces.

KEEP IT SIMPLE AND CLEAR


The next employee productivity improvement guideline is the small-item, flat wear,
GOH, carton, or pallet order picker instruction method. The best order picker instruc-
tion method is to keep order picker instruction as simple as possible. This allows
the order picker to read the instructions, clearly understand the instructions, and
complete a pick transaction. These order pick instruction methods are a paper
document, a self-adhesive label, or a paperless or lighted display panel that appears
on a pick light device or RF device. Each order pick instruction method presents
the order pick instruction as alphabetic characters, numeric digits, or a combination
of both. Each individual or alphabetic character and numeric digit group identifies
a customer discrete identification, a specific pick aisle pick position, or a SKU pick
position on your distribution pick line and the customer-ordered SKU quantity. At
each pick position, attached to a pick position structural support member is a
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 25

corresponding set of alphabetic characters, numeric digits, or a combination of the


two. During the order pick activity, when an order picker matches the pick instruction
document or label alphabetic characters or numeric digits to a pick position identi-
fication, this match serves as a signal to an order picker that the order picker has
arrived at the correct pick position. At this pick position an order picker completes
a pick transaction.
In a batched customer-order-fulfillment operation or in an across-the-dock oper-
ation, to complete the mixed SKU or customer-order sorting for grouped customer
orders, the sorting instruction on a piece or customer-order and the identification
at the customer sorting location are clearly understood and easily matched by a
sorting employee. When a batched customer piece sorting instruction is compared
to an order pick instruction, these instructions have similar design parameters and
objectives.

USE SEQUENTIAL ORDER PICK PATTERNS


In a small-item, flat wear, GOH, carton, or pallet order-fulfillment industry, the
sequential order picker routing patterns are the preferred patterns to improve order
picker productivity. The sequential order picker routing pattern has an arithmetic
progression in the pick position numbers through a pick aisle or along a pick line.
This means that the lowest SKU pick position number is 1 or 0 and is located at
the entrance to the pick line or pick aisle. The highest pick position number is 99
or 100 (or greater) and is located at the exit to the pick line or pick aisle.
In these sequential order picker routing patterns, the order picker starts at the
first required SKU pick position in the pick line or pick aisle. As the order picker
travels down a pick aisle or along the pick line to the pick aisle or pick line end,
the next required pick position is as close as possible to the previous SKU pick
position. In your order-fulfillment operation, any sequential order picker routing
pattern provides your operation with an efficient and cost-effective order picker
group.
Advantages include reduced employee unproductive travel time. This feature
means two or fewer trips per pick aisle or pick line. Other advantages are lowered
employee fatigue, minimized employee confusion, and increased employee pro-
ductivity.

CUBE THE ORDER PICKER ACTIVITY OR AUTOMATIC PICK REQUIREMENT


The next elements for a good small-item, flat wear, GOH, or carton order picker
improvement are to minimize unnecessary conversation between two order pickers
while they are in a pick aisle or pick line, and to ensure that an order picker is
capable to handle the picked SKUs without additional trips in a pick aisle or along
a pick line.
If your order-fulfillment operation order pick instruction method cubes out or
divides each order picker activity or automatic pick machine, SKU release is based
on a predetermined criterion. Per your customer-order pick method, the computer
program determines the carton number for a customer-order; the order picker number
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26 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

per pick aisle; placement on a pick line per size of the carton; and per the carton
cube, the SKU number that is released from an automatic pick machine.
The other factors that determine the order pick cube or SKU quantity per
container are the container, human, or delivery vehicle load-carrying surfaces opti-
mum internal dimensions and weight capacity to carry SKUs; each SKUs dimen-
sions and weight; the additional cube and weight added to the previous queued total
cube and weight as each SKU is added to the customer carton; and the carton or
load-carrying capacity utilization or fill rate. From these data, the computer optimizes
the employee or vehicle trips within a pick aisle and for a carton on a pick line, or
from an automatic pick machine, the SKU number that easily fits within the carton.
This cube feature reduces an order pickers unproductive travel time, reduces piece
damage, and minimizes the shipping carton void filler material quantity.
If an order-fulfillment operation has no match for the SKU to a human-carry or
carton capacity, there is a high probability that an order picker section for a customer
order exceeds the human or carton capacity. To complete a customer-order portion,
this no-match situation has a high potential to have an order picker make unnecessary,
unproductive, or less than optimum travel trips between a pick aisle and a customer
pack station; to cause additional order picker hand movements into the carton to
arrange SKUs inside the carton; or to cause an automatic pick machine to overfill
a carton and create piece damage or pick errors.
In an across-the-dock operation, the cube for the pieces that are loaded onto a
customer delivery truck or placed in the assigned customer shipping dock staging
area is a key factor to ensure good employee delivery truck loading productivity,
minimal piece damage, and full customer delivery trucks.
The pick activity cube is considered for a small-item, flat wear, GOH, or carton
order-fulfillment operation. With a small-item, flat wear, GOH, carton, or pallet
across-the-dock operation, the cube optimizes a customer delivery truck loading.

SMOOTH OR LEVEL THE WORK VOLUME


The next guideline to improve your small-item, flat wear apparel, GOH, carton, or
pallet order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operations employee productivity is to
level the weeks work volume evenly over the number of workdays. Leveling to a
week causes your daily customer-order and piece handling volume to be at relatively
the same quantity for each workday. This averaged daily work volume ensures that
your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock employees have sufficient and productive
work quantity for each work day. This means that there is no unproductive employee
time to change jobs within the operation.

USE PART-TIME EMPLOYEES


The next guideline to improve an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operations
employee productivity or cost per piece is to use part-time employees. Your small-
item, flat wear apparel, GOH, carton, or pallet order-fulfillment or across-the-dock
operation experiences peak volume periods, but you hired full-time employees for
the average business volume. During the peak business volume conditions, due to
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 27

the overtime pay for your regular full-time employees, you use part-time and lower
cost employees to complete the work volume that is above-average work. This part-
time employee approach features include maintaining the per-piece labor cost
because part-time employees do not have the same fringe benefits as the regular
or full-time employees. There is no overtime premium pay, and use of part-time
employees permits your experienced full-time employees to perform the key order-
fulfillment or across-the-dock activities while the part-time employees are able to
perform the unproductive or less skilled order-fulfillment or across-the-dock oper-
ation activities.

APPLY THE GOLDEN ZONE OR PROPER ELEVATION AND LOCATION OF THE


PICK POSITION
The next order-fulfillment employee productivity improvement guideline is for a
small-item, flat wear, GOH, or carton operation. This guideline focuses on a SKU
pick position elevation and a SKU physical location on a pick shelf or rack level.
Many order-fulfillment professionals refer to the best pick position elevation as the
golden zone.
The physical elevation in a hand-stack rack, shelf, or case-flow rack pick position
method is a very important factor that contributes to order picker productivity and
replenishment employee productivity. To achieve the maximum order picker or
replenishment employee productivity, the SKU golden zone pick position elevation
reduces an order pick or replenishment employees reach or bend to complete a
replenishment transaction. In a hand-stack rack, shelf, or flow-rack pick method,
this means that the top and bottom (pigeonhole) pick position levels are the least
desirable pick positions. The golden zone pick position levels are located between
the 20-inch elevation above the floor surface and the 5-foot, 6-inch elevation above
the floor surface. These golden zone levels are the preferred pick positions. These
elevations for the golden zone vary slightly for an order picker or replenishment
employees average height.

CHANGE FROM PAPER PICK DOCUMENT TO SELF-ADHESIVE LABEL,


PAPERLESS, OR AUTOMATIC PICK METHOD
The next small-item, flat wear, GOH, carton, or pallet order-fulfillment employee
productivity improvement guideline is to change your order picker instruction for-
mat. This change is from the paper pick document to a paperless order picker
instruction format or an automatic pick method. When a manual or mechanized
order-fulfillment method uses a paper pick document, the paper document has lines
and columns. Most paper pick documents use standard style type black ink characters
and digits on white paper. To obtain the pick instruction, the paper pick document
method requires an order picker to read the proper line for a SKU pick position and
SKU quantity. After a pick position transaction completion, the order picker places
a mark adjacent to the appropriate line or location on the paper document. This mark
verifies the SKU pick activity completion.
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28 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

A self-adhesive label placed onto a SKU exterior surface, a paperless (pick to


light or RF device) pick instruction, or an automatic pick method reduces several
order picker unproductive activities: reading the order pick document and locating
the specific line for a pick transaction, and placing a mark on a paper pick document
that verifies pick transaction completion. Eliminating these activities reduces an
employees unproductive clerk activities in an order pick activity.

DEVELOP A GOOD EQUIPMENT AND FACILITY LAYOUT AND FLOW PATTERN


The next order-fulfillment and across-the-dock operation employee productivity
improvement guideline is to develop a good equipment and facility layout and piece
flow pattern for a pick line or pick aisle and travel paths. The order-fulfillment or
across-the-dock operation order pickers, employees, and pieces flow between two
facility locations, through the pick aisles to the pick positions, and through a sorting
method. These activities require material handling equipment that occupies space.
A good equipment and facility layout and piece flow pattern ensure minimal piece
and employee travel time and distance, a continuous employee piece flow between
two facility locations; good facility space utilization; accurate and on-time piece or
customer-order deliveries with minimal damage; and sufficient aisle width to ensure
an on-time transaction completion with minimal damage. All these factors improve
employee productivity at the lowest operating cost.

MAINTAIN CLEAR AISLES AND PRACTICE GOOD HOUSEKEEPING


The next order-fulfillment employee productivity improvement guideline is to main-
tain clear aisles and practice good housekeeping. As an order picker or replenishment
employee travels through a pick aisle or replenishment aisle pick positions, to ensure
proper travel speed without unintentional stops, all pick and replenishment aisles
must be clean and must not have obstacles. Many order-fulfillment professionals
have stated that good housekeeping in a distribution operation enhances employee
productivity by 5%.

MAINTAIN GOOD LIGHTING IN THE PICK AISLE OR PICK LINE


The next order-fulfillment employee productivity improvement guideline is to have
good lighting in a pick aisle, pick line, or replenishment aisle. The light fixture
options for your pick line or pick aisle are to have the light fixtures hung directly
above a pick or replenishment aisle center or perpendicular to a pick and replenish-
ment aisle. This arrangement has the light fixtures above the rack or shelf pick
positions. With both alternative light fixture arrangements, the light fixture program
requires you to specify the desired lighting (lumen) level at 30 inches above the
floor surface.
With the light fixtures hung directly above a pick or replenishment aisle center,
the light fixtures hang from the ceiling joists, cross support members that are
attached to the pick position structural members, or onto the second-level mezzanine
or walkway support members. This light fixture arrangement has fixtures that illu-
minate a pick or replenishment aisles entire length and width. When required to
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 29

replace a light fixture, the maintenance employees have easy access to the fixtures.
Your pick or replenishment employees are generally more familiar with this light
fixture arrangement.
When the light fixture arrangement is perpendicular to a pick or replenishment
aisle and above the rack or shelf pick positions, it has light fixtures that are hung from
the second-floor structural support members. In this arrangement a light fixture row
begins above your first pick row, continues above the other pick rows and aisles, and
ends above your last pick row. The center spacing between the light fixture rows
ensures that the light (lumen) level is as specified by your written functional specifi-
cations. To replace light fixtures, your maintenance employees have a more difficult
task with this arrangement because the light fixtures are above the pick positions,
making them less accessible. Your warehouse employees are unlikely to have this type
of light fixture arrangement in their homes or retail shops and are less familiar with it.

CHANGE YOUR EMPLOYEE WORK FROM A HUMAN-PACED METHOD TO A


MACHINE-PACED METHOD
A technique to dramatically improve your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock
employee productivity is to change work from a human-paced method to a machine-
paced method. When considering this change, you identify your order-fulfillment
or across-the-dock operational functions that have a large employee number; the
highest overtime; a large degree of piece, building, or equipment damage; the highest
employee injuries; high off-scheduled activities; and high errors.
When you are looking to improve an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock
employee work activity, you match the activity with the equipment. Some consid-
erations are to use nonpowered or powered queue conveyors or automatic guided
vehicles (AGVs) or another transport method that moves multiple pieces or customer
orders between two work stations; to mechanize or automate your piece or customer-
order delivery to a work station; to attach a bar code or RF tag to your piece or
customer-order and use bar code scanners or RF readers; to automate work activities
such as labeling, picking, weighing, and sorting; and to use guided aisles for mobile
vehicle travel.

ADD MATERIAL HANDLING OR PIECE TRANSPORTATION EQUIPMENT TO


YOUR EMPLOYEE WORK
In your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation, the most dramatic employee
efficiency improvements are realized from equipment or methods used to handle or
transport the maximum piece or customer-order number per trip between two work
stations with the fewest handlings. The piece or customer-order equipment or method
applications for your consideration are manual operated carts or pallet trucks; inter-
nal combustion or electric battery powered forklift trucks, pallet trucks, AGVs, or
towed carts; nonpowered or electric powered conveyors; guided powered vehicles;
a computer to schedule labor, equipment, and vendor deliveries; mechanized piece
or customer-order transport methods; a method to identify each piece or customer
order at a vendor facility and at your receiving dock; a method for separating into
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30 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

units securing the largest piece quantity; and a means of providing sufficient piece
or customer-order queuing prior to each activity.

USE AUTOMATIC IDENTIFICATION


The next order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation employee productivity
improvement guideline is to use automatic identification for an activity that handles
a piece or customer-order.
The automatic identification method is a human- or machine-readable discrete
code on a label, paper, or RF tag that is attached to a piece, master carton, pallet,
small-item, flat wear, GOH, or customer-order. The labeled piece or customer-order
is placed onto a transport method. This code is read by a bar code scanning or RF
tag reading device that transmits the code data accurately online to a microcomputer.
The microcomputer controls another machine that responds to the code information
or stores the information in memory.
The automatic identification method features are a high volume and a wide piece
mix, having accurate information and online information flow, utilizing fewer
employees, reduced data transfer errors, and minimized piece or customer-order
transfer errors.

PROVIDE SUFFICIENT WORK


The next order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation guideline to improve
employee productivity is to provide sufficient work for the employee workday. With
the projected order-fulfillment pick and across-the-dock piece volume along with
your expected employee productivity rates for a pick line and across-the-dock
operation, you forecast the required employee number to complete the piece or
customer-order volume transactions. If the actual employee number exceeds the
projected required employee number, you allocate the extra employees to other
logistics segment value-added activities. When compared to an unplanned employee
reassignment to another order-fulfillment or across-the-dock activity, this preplan-
ning for an employee to relocate to another activity minimizes the unproductive time
for an employee to change activities.

USE THE PICK AND PACK METHOD FOR HIGH VOLUME OF A FEW SINGLE-
ITEM OR FLAT WEAR APPAREL SKUS FOR SINGLE-CUSTOMER ORDERS
An order-fulfillment employee productivity improvement guideline is that if your
order-fulfillment operation has a high volume for a few single-item, flat wear apparel,
or GOH SKUs, it means that you consider to pick and pack these SKUs and customer
orders off-line. The off-line pick and pack activity is a single item activity that occurs
when your order-fulfillment operation has a high single-line customer-order volume
that has the same SKU or a pair (two SKUs) on your customer orders. The pick and
pack activity has one or two additional steps in the normal order pick activity. When
compared to the normal or individual employee pick activity, there is a slight decrease
in the order pick productivity because the order picker picks, packs, seals, and labels
the customer shipping container. This total pick and pack activity performed by one
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 31

employee or an employee group dramatically improves the total order-fulfillment


operation employee productivity and piece flow because the merchandise is picked
in a batch and the picked SKUs and customer orders bypass the normal packing and
check station. If the SKU is picked as a batch and transferred to a specific pick and
pack station, the order picker productivity is very high. With an off-line pick and
pack activity, one order picker picks all SKUs, packs the customer pack slip and
SKU into a customer shipping carton, seals and labels the order carton, and places
the carton onto a take-away conveyor or material handling device.
An off-line order-fulfillment employee productivity improvement guideline is
to have multiple pick lines that handle the top 20% or high-volume SKUs. Each of
the multiple offline pick lines has a transport method for completed customer-order
transport to the next pick line station and a second transport method for all partially
completed customer orders that require additional picks from SKUs in the slow-
moving pick area.

ENSURE ON-TIME AND ACCURATE PICK POSITION REPLENISHMENT


The next order-fulfillment employee productivity improvement guideline is to ensure
on-time and accurate pick position replenishment. On-time and accurate pick posi-
tion replenishment ensures that the correct SKU is in the correct pick position in
sufficient quantity to satisfy the customer-order quantity prior to the employee order
picker or automatic pick device arriving at the pick position. During the order-
fulfillment process a stock out occurs as an employee order picker or automatic pick
device arrives at a pick position to complete a customer-order, and the pick position
is depleted or has an insufficient SKU quantity to complete a customer-order.
When a stock out occurs on a pick line, an employee order picker or automatic
pick device has completed the travel distance and used the required travel time but
has not completed a pick transaction. This means low employee productivity and a
potential dissatisfied customer. On-time and accurate pick position replenishment is
important to have a productive small-item, flat wear, GOH, or carton pick operation.

DETERMINE WHERE TO START THE SINGLE-ITEM ORDER PICKERS


On a single-item pick and pack line or pick and pass operation, the next order picker
productivity improvement guideline is to have the order picker start at the pick line
front. Single-item order pick line or pick aisle layouts have the fast-moving, heavy-
weight, and high-cube SKUs located in one pick area and the slow-moving, small-
cube, and lightweight SKUs located in a separate pick line or pick zone. To obtain
high employee productivity in a single customer-order pick and pack or batched
customer-order pick and sort operation, you must determine in what section to start
an order picker or locate an automatic pick machine. In the single-item order pick
area design, the fast-moving SKUs represent 80% of the pick volume from 20% of
the SKUs and the slow-moving SKUs represent 20% of the pick volume and 80%
of the SKUs.
On a single-item pick and pack order pick line, the order picker start locations
are to start the order picker in the fast-moving, heavyweight, and high-cube pick
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32 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

line section with the next pick line section to have the medium- to slow-moving,
lightweight, and small-cube SKUs or automatic pick machine. Another option is to
have the slow- to medium-moving, lightweight, and small-cube SKU pick line
section at the automatic pick machine with the next pick line section to have the
fast-moving, heavyweight, and high-cube SKUs.
If an order picker starts in the fast-moving, heavyweight, and high-cube SKU
pick line section, the results are improved pick position replenishment, high volume
handled by the pick line, and a more continuous customer-order flow from a pick
line to the check area due to faster customer completion. With slow-moving,
lightweight, and small-size SKUs at the pick line end, it is easier for the order
picker to place the SKUs into the customer shipping carton. There is a decrease in
the customer carton handling number, and the method ensures high order picker
productivity. The reason is the fast-moving SKUs with high hit density and con-
centration and the high-cube and heavyweight SKUs are easily read on the order
picker instruction form (at the top) and are the first SKUs transferred into the
customer carton.
If an order picker starts in the slow-moving, lightweight, and small-cube SKU
pick section or with the automatic pick machine section, a lower order picker
productivity results because an order picker in the fast-moving, heavyweight, and
high-cube SKU pick line area handles two cartons for a customer-order. This is due
to the fact that one container is partially full with slow-moving SKUs and is topped
off with fast-moving, heavyweight, and high-cube SKUs, and a second carton is
required for the remaining fast-moving, heavyweight, or high-cube SKUs. With a
paper pick instruction it is more difficult to read the order pick instruction document
because the fast-moving SKUs are located at the order pick instruction document
bottom. On a conveyor travel path, a slow-moving SKU partially full carton (due to
lighter weight) is more difficult to transport on the conveyor transport method. It is
difficult to keep replenishment activities coordinated with the order pick activities
because the slow-moving SKU replenishment is handled prior to the fast-moving
SKU replenishment. There is lower order picker productivity because for an order
picker to transfer SKUs into the pick carton or to make space in a container for the
fast-moving, heavyweight, or high-cube SKUs in a partially full carton, the order
picker must rearrange the SKUs in the carton. This SKU rearrangement time in a
pick carton is unproductive order picker time.
If the single-item order-fulfillment operation handles each carton for one cus-
tomer-order or multiple cartons for one customer-order and your pick line transport
method has a bypass transport conveyor for full cartons or completed customer
orders, the preferred start location is at the fast-moving, heavyweight, and high-cube
SKUs section on the pick line.

HAVE AN ARITHMETIC PROGRESSION THROUGH A PICK AISLE OR ALONG


THE PICK LINE

An order-fulfillment operation employee productivity improvement guideline is


to have an arithmetic pick position progression through a pick aisle or along the
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 33

pick line. The sequential arrangement for the pick positions on an order pick aisle
or pick line is that the arithmetic progression method routes the order picker to
remove single items, flat wear, GOH, and cartons from a pick position as the
order picker walks or rides through the pick aisle or along the pick line. The
arithmetic progression has the first pick position at the entrance to the aisle or
line as the lowest pick position number, and the last pick position has the highest
pick position number.
In decked-rack, shelf, or flow-rack small-item and flat wear apparel pick-line
applications, for the decked-rack, shelf, or flow-rack bay the preferred order picker
routing pattern is the horizontal scheme rather than the vertical routing pattern. The
horizontal pick routing scheme has an order picker start at the highest right- or left-
hand corner bay pick position. From this pick position, the next possible pick position
is on the same level and is adjacent to the first pick position. After all picks on the
top level are completed, the order picker routing pattern is continued on the next
lower bay pick level. This pattern is repeated for all pick levels.
The advantages of the method are that it is easy to read and follow, high-volume
and high-cube items occupy multiple locations in the golden zone, and it is easy to
upgrade from a pick document to a paperless pick method.

PICK POSITION NUMBERS THAT END WITH EVEN NUMBERS ON THE


RIGHT AND PICK POSITION NUMBERS THAT END WITH ODD NUMBERS ON
THE LEFT

The next manual single-item, flat wear apparel, GOH, or carton order-fulfillment
operation employee productivity improvement guideline is to have the pick position
numbers that end with even numbers on the pick aisles right side and the pick
position numbers that end with odd numbers on the pick aisles left side. This will
help to maximize order picker productivity. During the pick activity through the
pick aisle, this numbering pattern reduces confusion; your employee daily activities
have a similar numerical arrangement and when an order picker reads the pick
instruction form, the even and odd number pick position scheme automatically
directs the order picker to the proper pick aisle side.

INCREASE YOUR EMPLOYEE PRIDE

Your next method to improve your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation


employee productivity is to have your employees take pride in their company and
in their work. Improvement in employee productivity is realized by participating in
a customer delivery truck or forklift truck rodeo; posting a company sign at the
facility entrance; recognizing accurate, high productivity, employee injury-free
workdays and on-schedule work; supplying uniforms; presenting awards for punc-
tuality and good attendance; having a family outing at your facility; promoting team
participation; knowing your employees names, birthdays, and family histories; and
providing a clean and properly lighted work area and safe equipment.
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34 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

IMPLEMENT A WORK INCENTIVE PROGRAM


You can increase order-fulfillment or across-the-dock productivity by motivating
your employees with a work incentive program that gives them additional money
or something of value for extra effort or achievement. In some companies, an
incentive program has increased employee productivity by 10 to 15%.
A good employee incentive program is well researched and outlined; it is also
measurable, achievable, understandable, clear, fair, and administered equitably. If
the order-fulfillment or across-the-dock employee work changes, the employee work
incentive program changes.

CONTROLLING YOUR ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-


DOCK OPERATION
To have an efficient and cost-effective order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation,
your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation requirements are to have an
accurate projected order-fulfillment or across-the-dock piece or customer-order vol-
ume, prepare an accurate annual operating expense budget, and use the short-interval
schedule method.

Design Year Piece Volume Level

When you design an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation method for your


new operation or consider new equipment in an existing operation, you design the
facilitys key order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation functional areas to han-
dle a specific piece volume. When you project your order-fulfillment or across-the-
dock operational piece volume, you determine your operations piece or customer-
order volume and associated order-fulfillment (pick) and across-the-dock transac-
tions. Your design year piece or customer-order volume levels are average volume,
volume between the average volume and peak volume, and peak or spike volume.
If you design your order-fulfillment and across-the-dock operation method to
handle your average piece volume and your actual piece volume exceeds the average
piece volume, your operation situations include off-schedule activities or customer
deliveries; employee overtime; increased building, equipment, and piece damage and
employee injuries; and high customer complaints.
For an average piece volume level, the features are a small-size land and building,
lower capital investment, and low fixed material handling cost per piece.
If your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method is designed to handle a piece
volume that is somewhere between your average and peak piece volume levels, when
your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock actual volume exceeds the design volume,
your operation situations include employee overtime; load-carrying surface,
employee, or vehicle congestion; increased piece, equipment, and building damage;
off-schedule activities and customer deliveries; and some customer complaints.
This piece volume design level that is somewhere between your average and
peak piece volume levels has advantages. These include a medium land site and
building size and a medium capital investment and a medium fixed cost per unit.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 35

If your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method is designed to handle your


peak volume, when your actual volume arrives at a peak volume, your operation
does not experience late activities or customer deliveries and customer complaints.
The peak design volume level features are a large-size site and building and
additional investment, a high fixed cost per unit, and excellent customer service.

EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY MUST BE TIED TO YOUR ORDER-FULFILLMENT


AND ACROSS-THE-DOCK OPERATION

An order-fulfillment or across-the-dock employee productivity programs true value


is that it provides your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operational manager with
an employee productivity rate that is considered an accurate forecast tool. This
forecast tool is used to project and control your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock
labor expense dollars and to provide on-schedule service to your customers. The
employee productivity rate is the basis to calculate your annual order-fulfillment or
across-the-dock operational budget labor expense dollars; to make a budget dollar
justification for a capital expenditure; and to forecast your labor hours, expense,
pieces, vehicle deliveries, and equipment and labor schedules or number of employ-
ees per shift.
After your employee productivity program is implemented in your operation,
this employee productivity rate is tied to your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock
operating labor expense budget and is related to your capital expenditure justification.
If your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock employees do not achieve this projected
employee pick or across-the-dock productivity rate, your operational performance
is below par. This below par performance increases the overall company operational
cost per piece or customer-order and lowers the company profits.

SHORT-INTERVAL SCHEDULING
Short-interval scheduling (SIS) is a method that tracks your order-fulfillment or
across-the-dock operational employee pick or handling productivity. The method is
implemented in a single-item, flat wear, GOH, carton, or pallet order-fulfillment or
across-the-dock operation. This operation is a manual, mechanized, or automated
operation in a small, medium, or large company. This SIS method is used to track
an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock individual employee pick or handling pro-
ductivity for an entire shift or the work activities that are required to complete a
customer-order. The SIS method is designed as a manual- or personnel computer-
based method.
The SIS method steps are as follows. There is a discrete order picker or delivery
vehicle identification. Each employee at the dispatch station is issued the pick
instructions or customer-order section or vendor delivery truck self-adhesive labels
for a vendor delivery. If a vendor delivery truck has labeled pieces, the employee or
employee group is assigned to handle the delivery vehicle pieces. Project the order
picker or employee time to complete the task and identify the order picker or order
pick vehicle travel path. Per the pick instruction, an order picker or order pick vehicle
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36 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

stops at the required pick position or the across-the-dock employee opens a delivery
trucks doors. The employee completes all picks for a customer-order or across-the-
dock unloading transaction and returns to the dispatch station to receive another
customer-order pick instruction or another customer delivery truck instruction.

SIS FOR YOUR ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-DOCK ACTIVITIES


The SIS method is for the manual order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method
activities in an operation. This method has a clerk who is located at a control desk.
Customer-order portions are divided by a goal set employee productivity rate per
hour. This rate is predetermined for each pick aisle. This feature does recognize the
difference in travel minutes that an order picker travels from a control station to a
pick aisle and all the activities to ensure that the customer-order is picked and
delivered from the pick area to the assigned location. The result is the time that is
projected for an order picker to travel from the control station, in a pick aisle to
complete all pick transactions, and to deliver a customer-order portion to an assigned
shipping staging area.

HOW SIS WORKS


An employee or computer performs the SIS method. The employee SIS method has
a bar chart with columns across the top of the page. These columns are divided into
15-minute or other predetermined time intervals. Horizontal rows start at the page
top and go to the page bottom. These rows extend across the page under each column;
each row represents an individual employee activity; and each employee has a bar
chart page.
An employee name is written on the first horizontal bar chart line. The next two
horizontal lines are used for each customer-order-fulfillment or across-the-dock
transaction. On the first horizontal row, a line is drawn from the issue time to the
projected return time. After an employee returns to the control station, on the second
row a second line is drawn from the issue time to the actual return time. The
difference between the two horizontal lines is the difference between the projected
employee productivity time and the actual employee productivity time. This differ-
ence shows the employee status which is on-schedule or off-schedule. Each subse-
quent employee activity is listed below on the two horizontal row sets.
At the beginning of each workday and at the control station, each employee
is given a customer-order section or an order to unload a vendor delivery truck.
Upon the first customer-order section or vendor delivery truck completion, the
employee returns to the control desk. At the control desk, the employee receives
another customer-order section or a new vendor delivery truck. The actual employee
return time is indicated on the employee corresponding event horizontal bar under
the appropriate time column. The projected return time to the actual employee
return time comparison indicates an employees actual productivity. This provides
you with an on-time and exact review for each employees productivity perfor-
mance. The employees actual performance is compared to your employee produc-
tivity standard.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 37

If your employees actual time consistently beats the projected return time, your
order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation performance is better than your annual
expense budgeted labor dollar amount. This excellent performance means that actual
labor dollar expense is below the budgeted labor dollar expense.
If your employees actual return time consistently exceeds the projected return
time, your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock performance is lower than your
annual expense dollar budget amount. This poor performance means that your actual
labor expenses exceed the annual dollar budget expense amount.

HOW TO PROJECT YOUR ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR


ACROSS-THE-DOCK OPERATING BUDGET
Top management teams are requesting order-fulfillment or across-the-dock opera-
tional managers to prepare an annual order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operating
budget. The reasons for the increase in the annual operating expense budget requests
are to plan for labor and material handling equipment adjustments that result from
business volume fluctuations, to anticipate and control the company cash flow, to
review the operations actual labor expense and budgeted labor expense variance,
and to act as bases for capital investment requests for a new order-fulfillment or
across-the-dock method.
With a large order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation labor dollar expense
amount, your budget is prepared in a sophisticated and realistic manner.

ANNUAL ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-DOCK OPERATING EXPENSE


BUDGET METHODS
The order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation annual expense budget prepara-
tion methods are the simple percentage increase method and the detailed line-item
and man-hour SIS-based budget method. Both are calculated by an order-fulfillment
or across-the-dock department staff member or by a computer.

Simple Percentage Increase Annual Operating Expense Method

The simple percentage increase annual order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operating


expense budget has to determine the last fiscal year order-fulfillment or across-the-
dock operation annual operating expense dollar amount and obtain the percentage
increase for the next fiscal year business volume.
Then, in order to calculate the next fiscal year annual operating expense budget,
you multiply the last fiscal year order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation annual
operating expense by the next fiscal year business volume percentage increase.

Detailed Line-Item and Man-Hour SIS Budget Method

The detailed line-item and man-hour SIS budget method is the second budget
method. This budget method projects your companys order-fulfillment or across-
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38 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

the-dock operation annual operating expense. To be an effective management tool,


the projected annual operational expense is shown for each period and fiscal year
quarter. The company fiscal year is for a 52-week period. This week period agrees
with the calendar or starts on a day other than January 1.
The detailed line-item and man-hour SIS budget method recognizes that your
order-fulfillment or across-the-dock methods operational expenses fluctuate with
your business volume and that your expenses consist of controllable and non-
controllable expenses. Controllable expenses are controlled by your management
staff and are related to fluctuations in your business volume. The noncontrollable
expenses are not controlled by your management staff and generally do not fluctuate
with your business volume.
The detailed line-item and man-hour SIS budget method requires you to project
your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method operation facilitys annual control-
lable and noncontrollable operating expenses.
Controllable order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation expenses are based
on anticipated order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation employee productivity
rates, projected business volume, and contractual hourly wage rates. Some control-
lable expenses are labor; labor fringe benefits; piece, equipment, and building dam-
age and employee injuries; supplies; and repairs.
The noncontrollable order-fulfillment or across-the-dock annual operating
expenses are based on financial department accounting methods and company non-
labor contracts. Noncontrollable expenses include labor wage rate and fringe bene-
fits, depreciation, taxes, rent or lease rates, and third-party logistics contracts.

How to Work with the Detailed Line-Item and Man-Hour SIS


Budget Method

After you establish your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operations next fiscal


year annual operating objectives, employee productivity rates, and business volume,
you perform the calculations for the dollar expense budget. The budget expense is
calculated for each period or fiscal year quarter. The budget process has each expense
item on your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operations next year fiscal budget
compared to last fiscal years expense item actual dollar expense amount. If manage-
ment requires a justification for next fiscal years budget expense item increase or
decrease, the detailed line-item and man-hour budget method provides a complete
analysis and permits you to make a statement that substantiates the line-item dollar
increase or decrease. This expense fluctuation is related to your projected order-
fulfillment or across-the-dock operations next fiscal year business volume or is
substantiated by your justification.
The detail line-item and man-hour budget separates your order-fulfillment or
across-the-dock operations annual operating expenses into wages, salaries, and
fringe benefits as a subtotal; other controllable expenses are separated as a second
subtotal, while noncontrollable expenses are separated as a third subtotal.
The detailed line-item and man-hour annual operating expense budget method
calculations identify, qualify, and quantify for the fiscal year each operating
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 39

expense item as a controllable or noncontrollable expense item or income; obtain


your companys next fiscal year period, quarter, and annual operating calendar
end dates; determine the dollar value for your companys next fiscal year period,
quarter, and annual noncontrollable expenses; project the period of completion for
a capital expenditure and its impact on the next fiscal year annual operating
expenses, such as depreciation and labor productivity improvements; determine
the next fiscal year period projected employee productivity rate for each order-
fulfillment or across-the-dock operation activity; obtain the next fiscal year annual
business volume; obtain the projected hourly wage rate increase and period that
an increase is to occur for each employee job classification, fringe benefits, and
payroll tax rates; forecast all expected and unexpected activities and their impact
on the annual operating expenses; determine the next fiscal year item and man-
hour annual operating expenses; identify, qualify, and quantify all annual income
items for the fiscal year; and review each items projected expenses with your
financial manager.
The first step of the detailed line-item and man-hour budget method is to identify,
qualify, and quantify each major expense item for the last fiscal year order-fulfillment
or across-the-dock operating expense as a controllable or noncontrollable expense
item. The most important expense classification is the controllable expenses because
they fluctuate with an increase or decrease in the business volume. The expense
dollar value increase or decrease is controlled by the order-fulfillment or across-the-
dock managers decisions. The operations controllable expenses are wages for all
labor groups; fringe benefits; trash disposal; pallet purchases; product, building, and
equipment damage and employee injury; operating supplies; guard service; sundry
or other items; and telephone and fax expenses.
During a review meeting with your financial manager, you obtain the past fiscal
year dollar value for each controllable expense item. If the past fiscal year dollar
expense figures do not cover 12 or 13 months, the order-fulfillment or across-the-
dock manager uses the required periods from the previous fiscal year to obtain or
estimate a total for the present fiscal year periods. You also obtain the next fiscal
year calendar or schedule for each month and quarter end dates. The schedule of
these calendar end dates indicates each of the 13 period calendar end dates. Each
period consists of 4 weeks. Three quarters of the calendar year consist of 3 periods
or 12 weeks. One quarter has 4 periods or 16 weeks. The financial manager deter-
mines the 16-week quarter position on the fiscal calendar.

Noncontrollable Expense Projection

At the financial manager meeting, you receive the financial managers projection
for the noncontrollable expenses. The noncontrollable expense items of the order-
fulfillment or across-the-dock operation do not have a dollar value fluctuation with
an increase or decrease in the business volume. These expense items are not within
an operations managers control. The manager has an opportunity to review the
budgeted dollar volume. The noncontrollable order-fulfillment or across-the-dock
operation expenses are building and equipment rent or leases, property and other
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40 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

taxes, insurance, utilities, equipment and building equipment depreciation, and


office administration.
After both managers agree with each line-item annual dollar value for the next
fiscal year operating budget, the operations manager enters each annual line-item
budget figure onto the individual budget expense account sheet. The individual
budget expense account sheet is a sheet that shows the budget expense for each line
item. On the individual account sheet, the manger enters all information that relates
to the dollar budget value calculation.
After all individual noncontrollable account sheets are completed by the oper-
ations manager, each line-item annual figure is transferred from the individual budget
expense account sheet to the operating plan sheet appropriate line and column. When
all noncontrollable individual line items are transferred to the operating sheet, the
manager calculates the total. These calculations are the operating plan subtotal for
the fixed expense line subtotal.

Controllable Expense Projection

The next step of the budget process is for the operations manager to determine the
next fiscal year controllable expense dollar budget value for each line item. The
financial manager and operations manager determine the weighted average wage
rate for each order-fulfillment or across-the-dock labor job classification. This step
requires a meeting with the sales or purchasing manager. At this meeting the manager
receives the business piece volume projections for the year.
After this meeting, the operations manager enters each business volume projec-
tion onto the appropriate line of the direct labor wage work sheet. On this work
sheet, the operations manager enters each direct labor activity per shift. These
activities are required to move the piece or customer-order volume though an
operation.
At a review meeting with the operations management staff, the operations
manager projects the next fiscal year direct labor productivity rate for each shift.
Direct-labor employees are considered employees who physically move your piece
or control order-fulfillment or across-the-dock equipment that moves a piece. With
next years employee productivity rates and business volumes, the operations man-
ager calculates each shifts direct labor gross available hours. The gross available
hours or total hours are separated into subtotals for full-time or part-time employee
straight (regular) hours and full-time or part-time employee overtime (OT) hours.
With these gross available hour figures, the operations manager enters the corre-
sponding average hourly wage rate for each type of job classification. As required,
this hourly wage rate includes the nighttime premium per hour. If an employee
contract requires an hourly wage increase, the operations manager indicates the
hourly wage increase in the period that the hourly wage increase occurs and states
this fact on the work sheet section.
The hourly wage rate is the weighted average wage rate that was calculated by
the financial manager and operations manager.
The next required direct labor budget calculation is to determine the dollar
expense values that are associated with the hourly direct labor. This requires that
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 41

each labor groups gross available hours are multiplied by the corresponding hourly
wage rate. After all calculations are totaled for the fiscal year, the operations manager
enters the figures onto the direct labor line of the quarter order-fulfillment or across-
the-dock operations facility direct labor wage work sheet and operating plan sheet.
The remaining labor budget line items include the indirect labor. The indirect
labor is the labor that is required to support the operations, and these employees do
not touch a piece or control order-fulfillment or across-the-dock equipment that
moves a piece. The indirect labor classification includes supervision, clerical, clean-
ing or sanitation; general; and security and maintenance labor. Each indirect labor
classification has its individual work sheet. As required the expense increase or
decrease justification is explained at the bottom of the sheet.

Management Salary

An indirect labor budget expense is the salaries for the order-fulfillment or across-
the-dock operations management staff. To budget this expense item, the operations
manager enters each supervisor name or anticipated position on the operations
facility indirect salary labor work sheet. After each manager staff name or position,
an X is placed that indicates a salary expense for the fiscal year. On the total line,
the operations manager enters a total management dollar value expense for the
fiscal year. When management salary increases are granted to the management
staff, it is indicated in the appropriate period. After the management team work
sheet is completed, the operations manager transfers the bottom-line dollar
expense total for each period to the appropriate line of the operating planning
sheet.
To determine the other hourly and indirect labor job wage expenses, the
operations manager determines the indirect labor job number that requires regular
pay and OT pay and average hourly wage for the fiscal year. After the dollar
calculations are completed for the fiscal year, the operation manager transfers the
dollar value from the operations facility indirect hourly wage sheet to the operating
planning sheet.

Nonworking Hour Expenses

The next calculation is the nonworking hour calculation, which is the dollar expense
value for nonworking and employee paid jobs. Some nonworking hours are sick
days, sick leave, and jury duty. These nonworking hours are additions to the net
available straight or regular employee hours. On the nonworking hours sheet, each
expense is indicated and in the explanation section the operations manager makes
a statement as to the type of nonworking hours and average hour wage rate. The
dollar expense is calculated for each type of hour and is entered in the appropriate
period. After the nonworking hour sheet is totaled, the figures for the fiscal year are
transferred to the appropriate line of the operating planning sheet.
On the operating planning sheet, the operations manager adds the year wage lines
to obtain a wage bottom-line figure, which is the operation wage expense for a fiscal
year.
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42 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Fringe Benefits and Taxes

The next major calculation for the detailed line-item and man-hour budget method
is the employee fringe benefits and payroll tax line item. The operations manager
refers to the employee contract and payroll tax laws. This information is obtained
from the financial manager and determines the fringe benefits and payroll tax budget
expense.
Some fringe benefits include holidays, pensions, thrift plan, group insurance,
vacations, workmens compensation, and other benefits (e.g., cafeteria or child care).
Payroll taxes are the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and federal and
local government taxes.
Each fringe benefit and payroll tax has an individual account work sheet. After
each fringe benefit and payroll tax expense is calculated for each period, the oper-
ations manager transfers each period expense from the individual work sheet to the
appropriate line on the fringe benefit and payroll tax summary sheet. For vacations,
historical employee payroll records indicate the period that these fringe benefits
were taken by an employee. If this information is not available, the operations
manager projects the period for these expenses.
After all fringe benefits and payroll tax budget figures are transferred to the fringe
benefit and payroll tax summary sheet, the operations manager adds the line items to
obtain a fringe benefit and payroll tax bottom-line figure. This dollar figure is the
operation fringe benefit and payroll tax budget expense for the fiscal year. This bottom-
line figure is transferred to the appropriate line on the operating planning sheet.
After the fringe benefit and payroll tax transfer, the operations manager totals
direct labor, indirect nonworking expenses, fringe benefits, and payroll tax lines.
The sum is the bottom-line figure for the operating planning sheet wage and salary
controllable expense line.

Other Controllable Expenses


The last detailed line-item and man-hour budget expense group is the other control-
lable expense group that includes miscellaneous and sundry purchases, repairs, trash
disposal, damage, operating supplies, guard service, and telephone. On a controllable
individual budget expense account work sheet, the operations manager determines
the fiscal year budget expense. Explanation statements are made on this sheet that
substantiate line-item budget expense increase or decrease. These statements are
contract agreements and anticipated special events.
After each controllable individual expense account work sheet completion, the
operations manager transfers the fiscal year budget expense amount to the appro-
priate line on the operating planning sheet. On the operating planning sheet, the
operations manager adds the line items. The sum is the operations other controllable
bottom-line expenses.
To obtain the gross total budget expense for the operation, the operations man-
ager adds the three major groups of the budget fiscal subtotal lines.
There are several disadvantages to consider with this method. It is an involved
task, requires exact past records and projected order-fulfillment or across-the-dock
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 43

employee pick and handling productivity rates, and requires several days for calcu-
lations. A computer program simplifies the budget process or task and reduces the
time that is required to make the calculations or revisions. The advantages are that
the method provides top, middle, and lower management with the ability to plan,
control, and review your operation; and provides an understanding for an actual and
budget dollar expense variance. This feature exists because each dollar expense is
related to the next fiscal year projected business volume.

WHY HAVE CAPITAL INVESTMENTS?


In the order-fulfillment or across-the-dock industry, major capital expenditures are
related to an expansion that maintains the business growth, to improving a manual
order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method, and to replacing a manual order-ful-
fillment or across-the-dock method with a mechanized or automated method.
The order-fulfillment or across-the-dock methods objectives are to increase the
piece and customer-order number that is handled by your operation, to lower your
operation annual expenses, and to maintain or to improve your on-schedule and
accurate customer service.

WHAT IS THE CAPITAL EXPENDITURE JUSTIFICATION?


The majority of a financial justification for the proposed order-fulfillment or across-
the-dock method is based on the projected business volume, the employee produc-
tivity and operating expenses for your existing order operation, and employee pro-
ductivity and operating expenses for the proposed method. The cost figures determine
the labor expense savings and the associated order-fulfillment or across-the-dock
method savings.
The other economic justification factors are facility construction costs; land costs
and site preparation costs; other costs including building, piece, and equipment
damage and employee injuries; and method investment and related depreciation
expenses. The savings between the existing and proposed method provide the return
on investment that is the payback for the capital investment.
It is clearly recognized and understood that the numerous other costs and non-
economic factors are the customer service standard and business growth and SKU
expansion. Whenever possible, these noneconomic factors are used to justify an
operation capital expenditure.

HOW DEPRECIATION EXPENSE AFFECTS YOUR COMPANY INCOME


STATEMENT AND BALANCE SHEET
After your company makes a capital expenditure in a new order-fulfillment or across-
the-dock method, the capital expenditure has a tremendous impact on your operation
budget and actual operational expenses. The new method investment is an asset that
appears on your company balance sheet. Good accounting practice has the new
method listed as an asset and it is depreciated over a period of years. This depreci-
ation is in the form of the annual depreciation expense. Depreciation expense is
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44 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

calculated by your accounting department and is the wearing down of an asset that
occurs over time due to wear and tear. This annual depreciation expense is charged
against your companys income as an expense item.

HOW DOES YOUR EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY


AFFECT YOUR COMPANYS INCOME STATEMENT?
The employee productivity is the piece or customer-order number that one employee
handles within a given time period, which is typically one hour. The employee
productivity figure determines the employee hours or number of employees that
worked in the operation, and is a component in the financial justification for your
new method. Since your company pays an hourly wage to an employee, it is an
expense item that appears on your companys income statement. As an expense item,
it is reduction to your companys gross income. After all the expense items are
subtracted from the gross income, the result is your companys net income.

WHAT DOES GOOD EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY MEAN TO YOUR COMPANYS


INCOME STATEMENT?
We conclude that both the depreciation expense and employee wage expense have
tremendous impact on your operations income.
It is common knowledge that if an increase in one of your operations expense
items is above the annual budgeted dollar expense amount, it causes a decrease in
your companys net income. A decrease in net income is not considered an operation
objective. If a decrease in an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock methods expense
items is below the annual budgeted dollar expense amount, it causes an increase in
your companys net income. An increase in net income is considered an operational
and company objective.
When your company invests in a new method and your manager achieves or
exceeds your companys projected employee productivity rates that were used to
justify the investment, there is no increase to your companys cost. This situation
means that there is no change to your companys projected profit.
If your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method manager does not obtain
your companys projected employee productivity rates that were used to justify your
capital expenditure, there is an increase to your operations expense. The additional
labor expense raises your companys cost unit or cost as a percentage of sales above
your companys projections. This situation increases your company cost and means
that there is a lower company net profit.

REASONS FOR ECONOMIC JUSTIFICATION


FACTORS
Top management teams are requesting their order-fulfillment and across-the-dock
operations managers to make comparative financial and nonfinancial justifications
for their order-fulfillment or across-the-dock equipment capital expenditures. The
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 45

increase in these investment justification requests are because of the high dollar
value for the modern order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method, high interest rates
for borrowed money during certain periods, and limited company cash flow or capital
expenditure funds.
A capital expenditure investment is a project that has a life for more than one
year or extends an assets life. The capital expenditure investment is allocated as a
depreciation expense over your companys future income. A low-dollar equipment
replacement project is considered a company expense and is an expense against the
years income.
With the high-capital investment dollar amount that is associated with your
proposed modern order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method, your financial eval-
uation analysis compares the alternatives in a realistic manner. Your companys
accounting manager is a member of your project team who provides the expertise
to perform the economic justification calculations and ensures that your cash inflow
and outflow classifications are within your company and Internal Revenue Service
(IRS) or federal government tax on income policies.

ECONOMIC JUSTIFICATION PROCESS


When you are assigned a project that requires an economic justification, your
economic justification process steps are to determine the after-tax rate of return on
the various methods and investments, the inflation rate per year, the growth rate
per year, and the tax rate on taxable income; determine the life for the method;
identify and qualify the capital investment items (cash outflows) and savings or
income (cash inflows), the depreciation expense, and the resale value for the existing
method; identify and qualify the noneconomic benefits for each method; and quan-
tify or assign a numerical value for the economic and noneconomic benefits for
each method.

ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-DOCK METHOD ALTERNATIVES


Your first economic justification step is to develop a list for order-fulfillment or
across-the-dock method alternatives. These alternatives are considered as a feasible
solution to handle your company order-fulfillment or across-the-dock piece and
customer-order business whether it is a new or remodel method.
The alternative method factors are to determine the activities that are improved
by the proposed method or the new method mechanization or automation. The other
financial justification factors are available investment funds, SKU handling charac-
teristics, piece or customer-order size or piece number or volume and the customer-
order number, and other operational objectives.

WHAT IS THE USEFUL LIFE?


You determine the new order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method useful life to
your company. In this phase, you estimate the years that your method expects to
operate and handle your business volume.
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46 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

In this step, you define the project cost components. The cost components are
the method material handling equipment, facility, land and landscape, and computer
systems.
This information is given to the accounting manager who confirms the antici-
pated useful life and determines the depreciation expense. The order-fulfillment or
across-the-dock method annual depreciation expense is an expense item on your
companys income statement that reflects an annual decrease in the asset value that
appears on your companys balance sheet. The depreciation expense is used in the
cash flow financial or working capital statement as an item that contributes to the
payment of the investment.

WHAT IS THE RATE OF RETURN?


Your third item is to specify your companys minimum acceptable rate of return
from the capital investment. The minimum rate of return on the capital investment
is the net (less expenses) annual cash inflows that are stated as a percentage of the
capital investment. The cash inflows are the operational expense savings or income
that is created from the project. This projected annual percentage compensates your
company for the capital investment.
The percentage on return allows your companys executive management team
to allocate your companys discretionary funds to finance the project. The company
project with the highest percentage on return is the project that is considered high
priority for your companys investment.
You obtain from the accounting manager the available tax credits from the
government and the minimum after tax rate or return on investment that your
company considers financially attractive for its discretionary capital investment.
A tax credit is a reduction in your companys local or federal income tax that
results from the investment. The tax credit is a percentage of the invested funds.
If your company does not have a rate of return, you determine the rate of return.
This figure is the present cost of money or the available interest rate.

WHAT ARE THE INFLATION RATE AND GROWTH RATE?


Your companys annual growth rate and piece or customer-order volume growth rate
are used in the financial analysis, and these rates are given by the accounting
manager. If the inflation rate is not available, you use the inflation rate that is issued
by the government.
If the piece or customer-order volume growth rate is not available, your com-
panys historical growth rate is used as the future annual business growth rate. If
the inflation rate is included in the business volume growth rate, the inflation rate
is subtracted from the growth rate. The business volume growth rate is used to
project the order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation piece or customer volume.
This piece or customer-order volume determines the operations required labor
quantity; labor expense; manual, mechanized, or automated method; and other
business expenses.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 47

WHAT ARE THE ECONOMIC FACTORS?


Your fourth step is to determine the projects financial or economic factors. These cash
inflows and cash outflows result from the order-fulfillment or across-the-dock project.
The cash inflows are funds that are operational expense reductions or income
that is realized from asset sale. These assets were made available from the investment
and the new order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation start-up.
The cash outflows are the capital expenditures for the building, land, site prep-
aration, and equipment, with the required computer systems to operate the proposed
operation.

WHAT ARE THE NONECONOMIC FACTORS?


Your fifth step is to identify the noneconomic or nonfinancial operational benefits to
your company that result from a new method implementation. The factors do not have
a tangible dollar value but do contribute to an efficient and effective order operation.

QUANTIFY THE ECONOMIC AND NONECONOMIC FACTORS


Your next step is to identify the economic and noneconomic project factors. This
evaluation allows you to present the order-fulfillment or across-the-dock project that
maximizes your companys return on investment and satisfies your other company
objectives. When ranking the economic and noneconomic factors, the cash inflow
and cash outflow factors receive the highest value.
When several order-fulfillment or across-the-dock methods have identical return
on investment values, the ranking method that includes the financial and non-
financial factors provides the total return on investment picture. This ranking method
helps to determine a method that is preferred for your companys investment and
implementation.

ORDER-FULFILLMENT AND ACROSS-THE-DOCK


METHOD IMPLEMENTATION AND PROJECT
MANAGEMENT
The following section reviews many aspects of order-fulfillment or the across-the-
dock methods project management from financial justification to method imple-
mentation and start-up. The areas to be examined are estimating costs; writing
functional specifications; reviewing vendor bids and administrating vendor contracts;
reading blueprints and using metric measurements, military time, and Julian dates;
and using consultants.

ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-DOCK METHOD PROJECT


MANAGEMENT ACTIVITIES
When you are involved in an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method project
management design, purchase, and implementation, the activity sequence probably
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48 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

occurs in a sequence that is different from the order as presented in this chapter. It
is the intent to provide insights and tips to the reader, not to present a fixed format
for an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock methods project management.
To manage a project successfully and have the project come within budget and
on time, you have a preplanned pattern for the events. The event order brings an
order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method from a proposal phase through the
vendor bid and implementation phase and to the start-up and operational phase.
The project management process events are as follows:

Review order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method.


Organize a project team.
Collect piece and customer-order volume data and other method design
information.
Select and design the best method.
Meet with suppliers and vendors and work with consultants to obtain
method budget price quotes.
Develop an economic and operational justification.
Prepare and present a method proposal to your companys top manage-
ment.
Prepare and write a methods functional, technical, and general specifi-
cations; complete all method drawings; and send the request for quotes
to the preferred vendors.
Prepare and perform a method vendor bid review.
Select the vendor and award and administer the vendor contracts.
Review the building construction and vendor method drawings.
During building construction and method installation, review and adjust
building contractor and method vendor schedules and installation
progress, make periodic payments, and award extras.
Complete punch list and operational acceptance of the building and
method.
Assist with the methods start-up and turn over to your companys oper-
ations department.

HOW TO ESTIMATE COSTS, WRITE FUNCTIONAL SPECIFICATIONS, REVIEW


BIDS, ADMINISTER CONTRACTS, AND IMPLEMENT YOUR ORDER-
FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-DOCK METHOD

This section reviews a proven technique to manage an order-fulfillment or across-


the-dock method project from the method design phase through the method instal-
lation and implementation phase to the start-up and operational phase. It includes
how to cost-estimate a project, write project equipment bids and functional specifi-
cations, solicit vendor bids, and review vendor bids. It examines a method to admin-
ister financial control of your companys building and method contract and a method
for project implementation management.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 49

Cost Estimates

In an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method or building construction project,


cost estimates allow you to establish and present to your top management a reliable
estimate of building design required investment funds for a new facility or method.
When this method cost estimate is compared to other company project cost estimates,
it allows your top management to determine the company project that has the lowest
cost and the best return on investment.
Cost estimating is the process by which you develop the capital and expense
requirements for the building construction, method installation, and land purchase
for your proposed new method or facility. This land and facility with your order-
fulfillment or across-the-dock concept is shown on the drawings and is described in
your written functional specifications.
There are many questions that are answered and information gathered prior to
obtaining method, building design, and land cost estimates. It is important that you
have accurate design information for a method, building construction, and land.
The method, building construction, and land cost estimating objective is to
include enough detail in a summary sheet. This approach permits your management
to understand exactly what building design, method design, and land items that are
included in your project will cost.
The cost estimate types for a method, building construction, and land items are:

Order of magnitude cost The order of magnitude cost estimate is a


method cost estimate that varies by 25%. The order of magnitude cost
estimate is based on very broad design parameters and is given by a vendor
in a very short time period. The order of magnitude cost estimate is used
by your department to compare alternative methods.
Budget cost The second cost estimate is the budget cost estimate. The
budget cost estimate is based on more definitive method design factors.
A budget cost estimate is based on past projects and varies by 5%. You
use a budget cost estimate for your method capital expenditure request.
This capital expenditure request is submitted to your company financial
(capital expenditure) review committee and is competitive with other
company department financial requests for capital funds. Your staff and
your companys financial department calculates your method return on
investment and number of years payback.
Fixed cost The third method, building construction, and land estimate
is a fixed cost estimate. The fixed cost estimate is based on your building
design and method or engineered drawings and detailed written functional
specifications. These building and method fixed cost estimates are pre-
pared by your proposed building contractor, method vendors, and land
owner. These method professionals require at least several weeks of prep-
aration time to determine their fixed cost estimates. After receiving a
vendors fixed cost estimates, the method fixed cost estimates do not vary.
The fixed cost estimate that is submitted by your building contractor, land
owner, and method vendor is the basis for a contract between a building
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50 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

contractor, land owner, or method vendor and your company. The building
contractors and method vendors fixed cost estimates are valid for a
specific time.

Preparation for an Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method


Cost Estimate

For you to develop your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method or equipment


final cost estimate, the method information is required to be assembled by your
method design team. This method design information relates to your existing and
proposed method and includes method piece volume and piece and customer-order
characteristics, method activities, and capacity and use method as shown on your
drawings and outlined in your written functional specifications.
After you have made a complete equipment list for your method, you select and
use a company method budget pricing reference. The budget pricing reference helps
you to develop a budget price estimate for the method or equipment.
The information on your methods plan view and detail view drawings and written
functional specifications tells your companys existing or proposed method story.
Your companys method drawings show many things, and your companys writ-
ten functional specifications indicate equipment type, such as conveyors, AGVs, tow
lines, forklift trucks, shelves, racks, A-frames, digital displays, and automatic iden-
tification equipment; equipment size, which includes the piece length, width, height,
and weight; equipment capacity, such as handling small items, flat wear apparel,
GOH, cartons, or pallets and including length, width, height, and weight; piece or
order flows and activities performed at the method activity stations; options and
special features or tasks; piece or order travel paths (number of linear feet, turn
number, piece or order travel path elevation changes, and equipment or load-carrying
surface identification method); and facility internal dimensions, dimensions from
the various building structural components, and equipment location such as the
location of columns, doors, and stairs.
In a method project that replaces an existing method, an inventory of the existing
method determines its possible reuse in the new facility or at another facility.

Your Final Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method Project


Budget Cost Includes a Contingency

After you have received your budget costs for your method, building, and land cost
estimates for your proposed project, you prepare a total project cost for management
review and approval. A very important method project cost component is the con-
tingency cost factor. It has been our experience that a 5 to 10% contingency cost
factor for method, building, and land budget cost estimating is a standard contingency
factor.
The contingency cost factor establishes funds that are available for the project
manager to cover unknown cost factors or those costs that are beyond the managers
scope of work activities. These cost factors are unexpected purchases and extras.
Most industry professionals agree that in their past building remodel projects, new
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 51

facility construction, or method installation projects, the unknown factors have


become a reality. This statement is true for remodeling a building or redoing an
existing method.

Methods to Control the New Facility Construction

To construct a new facility, the building design and construction process project
management approaches are as follows. Your company has individual contracts with
an architect, engineering company, building contractor, and method vendor or con-
sultant; or one contract with a design and build company that has its own architect
and engineers. This one contract feature includes responsibility to purchase and install
the method. Industry professionals refer to this type of contract as a turnkey contract.
An individual contract with each building construction resource, method vendor,
and architect and engineering company requires a company project manager. In this
arrangement your companys project manager is required to coordinate all the archi-
tectural, building construction, and method vendors in the building construction and
method installation. This arrangement requires an increase in meetings and usually
has longer building construction and method installation phases.
The design build or turnkey construction method has your company contract
with one or two companies to have complete responsibility for your new facility
design, engineering, construction, method purchase, installation, and startup. With
this arrangement, all the coordination between the architect, building construction
company, and method vendors is controlled by a design build company. The design
build company representative interfaces and meets with your companys project
manager. In most projects, a design build arrangement means a shorter building
construction phase and an increase in costs.

Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method Budget Price Sources

To obtain a method budget price cost estimate, the sources are your companys past
method prices, adjusted for inflation and location; your companys method vendors
who have worked on past projects, adjusted for inflation and location; the method
or equipment supplier catalogs; your companys current projects; within the past
year, a method project where your company has received a vendor bid, adjusted for
inflation and location; and the method budget pricing standards that are maintained
by your company, adjusted for inflation and location.

Information on Your Companys Building Construction Drawings and


Written Functional Specifications

To obtain a fixed cost estimate for your building construction, land, and associated
site preparation costs, you develop the necessary site utilization drawings, building
drawings, and written functional specifications. This is your companys preliminary
(outline) building information. With this information, you select good price sources
or potential architectural and engineering and building construction companies to
send the building information. These companies provide the building construction,
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52 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

land, and site preparation fixed cost prices. These companies are independent com-
panies or a joint venture company (single company) to control your project.
The information that an architect; structural, mechanical, and electrical engineer;
and building contractor need in order to provide an accurate and fast building
construction cost estimate includes:

The geographical site location for the professionals to determine the


seismic (earthquake) zone, wind, rain, and snow loads and local building
codes
Estimated building size to include all floors as shown on your drawings
Office area an attached building to a main building, a separate building,
or in the main building on an elevated floor as shown on your drawings
Future expansion needs and an expansion direction that accommodates
50 to 100% growth
Peak vendor and customer delivery truck parking area requirements to
include a blacktop area for visitor and employee automobiles
Receiving and shipping docks for vendor delivery trucks, oceangoing
containers, and rail cars, specified as blacktop with a concrete landing
gear pad, dock height, drain, slope, and truck canopy
Estimated property size, based on local code requirements that govern the
building ratio to land (land utilization), building height, exterior color,
signage, required berm or fence, and required setbacks
Special building requirements, including special lighting, air conditioning,
heating, floor levelness, additional mezzanines, special processing activ-
ities that include food processing, steam processing, or computer room
with an uninterrupted power source (UPS), in-rack sprinklers or early
suppression fast response (ESFR) ceiling-only sprinklers with required
tank, pump size, roof slope, and interior siding material
Cafeteria and special storage rooms such as depressed floor locations,
drain with retention tank or perimeter barrier, and foam fire sprinkler
system
Estimated men and women number by work shift and by facility location
Estimated electrical usage by location including peak battery charging
requirement
Vehicle or personnel traffic aisles

Building Construction, Land, and Site Preparation Budget


Price Sources

The following sources are available and provide you with a realistic budget price
estimate for land, site preparation, a new building construction, or an existing building
remodel project. The best source is to have architects and building construction
companies in the proposed site area. Another source is to have architects or building
construction companies that are located in your companys headquarters city; these
prices require an adjustment for the difference between your home city and the
proposed site location. The R. S. Means and Dodge manuals in your company or
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 53

public library business section provide estimated building construction costs, site
preparation costs, and equipment installation costs. It is noted that the pricing for
building construction differs between the two manuals. The total building construc-
tion costs from one manual are slightly different from the same building construction
prices estimated in the other manual. The R. S. Means manual does provide cost
comparison and adjustment for major U.S. cities. This cost difference is used to
adjust budget prices from other price sources not located in the proposed geographic
area. Real estate and utility companies provide current land costs and building costs
for an existing building. Also important are your companys land and building budget
pricing standards or past projects.
The land or building construction costs vary from an expensive cost per square
foot in a large metropolitan city to a low price per square foot in the country.
Your request for land or site prices has a definition for the site type. Some land
prices are for unimproved land that has no utilities, water, sewer, or access roads.
Improved land has one or all improvements such as access roads, water, sewer, and
existing utilities. If you are interested in an existing building cost estimate, include
the required square footage, clear ceiling height, preferred span between two building
columns, floor loadings, dock parking, and air changes.

Steps to Determine Your Architect and Building Contractor

After you finalize your method layout and building shell to house your method,
inventory storage area, processing area, and other required activities, your next
project step is to obtain a building architect and building construction company.
Obtain a List of Potential Architects or Building
Construction Companies
You obtain a potential architect and building construction company list from past
company building projects, the local chamber of commerce, industry directories, the
local telephone directory, industry associations, and professional acquaintances or
magazines.
Send an Evaluation Form and Preliminary Building Outline Criteria
After you have determined the potential architectural, engineering, and building
construction company list, you make a telephone call to determine their interest in
your companys project.
This telephone interview practice saves you time and expense by finalizing your
list with those architectural, engineering, and building construction companies that
are interested in your companys project and have the basic resources that are
required for your project. Your next project step is to send your companys evaluation
form and preliminary building outline criteria to these companies.
The preliminary building outline criteria includes your building drawings and
written functional specifications plus your method drawings and written functional
specifications. This information provides potential architects and building construc-
tion companies with an insight to your companys basic building and method needs.
From the architects and building construction companies, the returned and com-
pleted evaluation form provides you with an indication to each architects and
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54 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

building construction companys capabilities; estimated cost for the building; land-
scape items; total project cost; and past projects list, which includes the client
companies site location, contact name, telephone number, internet address, esti-
mated project schedule, and total estimated cost. This information permits you to
evaluate the architectural and building construction companies. Your architectural
and building construction company review allows you to determine the architectural
and building construction companies that are to receive your request for a quote,
final building drawings (plan view and detail), and building outline criteria (written
functional specifications).

Prepare Your Companys Bid Package


Your method or equipment and building bid package preparation is the next project
step. This step is to prepare your companys building and method final drawings
and written functional, specific, and general specifications.

What Do Your Companys Building and Order-Fulfillment or Across-


the-Dock Method Drawings Do
Your companys method or final drawings are your means to communicate between
your company and your architect, building contractor, and method vendors who are
interested in making a bid (price quote) on your project. The final drawings are lined
pictures that show how your facility and method will look and how the facility and
method will operate.
The building and method layout and detailed drawings have sufficient informa-
tion to leave no misunderstanding for piece or customer-order method, travel path,
flow, and other operational requirements.
Your method layout and detailed drawings are precise and detailed enough to
establish your written functional specifications, but general enough in design require-
ments to permit your method vendors to understand the piece and customer-order
flows and customer-order and piece transport travel paths and functions. With this
vendor insight and understanding, these vendor companies use their design capabil-
ities to provide your company with the best (latest technology) and most economical
method to perform the work.
Your method layout (plan view) drawings and detailed equipment drawings
reveal your companys and project teams character. The factors that send a message
to architects, building construction companies, and method vendors are as follows.
Have a legend that shows the method or equipment symbols. Include building column
lines that are connected to the building column bubbles. The column bubbles have
numeric and alphabetic characters for building column lines and dimension lines.
Most drawings avoid the alphabetic characters I and O due to confusion with the
numbers 1 (one) and 0 (zero). Use wide lines or double lines for walls, and whenever
possible use a computer-aided drafting (CAD) machine to produce the drawings. If
you use a CAD machine, use one letter or number style for notes and elevations
and a second letter and number style to indicate method or equipment numbers. On
the drawings, the method numbers are on the equipment, within a box with a line
between the number and equipment, or with a leader line to the equipment.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 55

Complete Building and Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method


Bid Drawing Package
To have a complete building and method drawing package for your companys
project, the required drawings are a site drawing, a building layout or plan view
drawing, a building detail drawing, a method layout or plan view drawing, a method
detail drawing, and a cover sheet.
It should be noted that many facility and method configurations could require
several drawings to show the complete picture.
Site Drawing. The first company drawing is your site view drawing that shows the
total site, access roads, buildings, landscape features, perimeter, fence or berm,
elevations, and north directional arrow. The site drawing provides the architect,
building construction company, and method vendors with the necessary information
to complete their work on your project. This information includes the building outline
(area) and building placement on the site in relation to a known reference point or
direction (north). The north directional arrow points upward unless the site config-
uration requires another compass direction.
Other site drawing features include associated dimensions, which are paved areas
for roadways, rail tracks, automobiles or employee travel vehicles, and requirements
for vendor and customer delivery trucks, automobile and cycle parking lots, setbacks,
fences, or berms, and ponds or water-holding tanks; building column lines with
alphabetic and numeric bubble designations; building bay size, including overall
inside clear dimensions and internal offices, service areas, mezzanines, and emer-
gency exits; the building elevations from the floor to the underside of the joists
(ceiling steel), the clear dimension from the floor to the office ceiling, and the floor
elevation to the external grade or ground; and the vendor and customer delivery
truck receiving and shipping docks, including the doors and dock levelers, canopies,
and landing gear pads. These are important areas because all order-fulfillment or
across-the-dock methods start at the receiving dock and end at the shipping dock.
The final features are the employee entrance, outside vendor and customer delivery
truck driver entrance, visitor entrance, trees and green area, garage, fuel island,
compactor, forklift truck ramp, and future expansion.
Each site drawing has a summary section with the site total area in the local
measurement standards; each building area square footage and the total for all build-
ings as base construction and percentage of total and land area; total facilities and
buildings square foot area and percentage of total and land area; for each total general
office, operational square foot area and percentage of total and land area; the grand
total for all facilities area square footage and percentage of land area; the automobile
or other employee transportation vehicle parking slots; the vendor and customer
delivery truck parking slots; and green area total square footage and percentage.
Building Layout Drawing. Your second drawing group is the building layout
(plan-view) drawings. The building layout drawings have more detail or dimensions
for truck doors, canopies, compactor, special doors, and forklift truck ramp location
and size; vendor and customer delivery truck dock levelers, rail dock board sizes,
and rail spur with center line dimensions; bay size, column size, column lines,
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56 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

expansion joints, and wall locations with stated wall use; all internal office and
service area walls and door locations, with specified door size and personnel doors,
drains, and convenience outlets; special floors and floor surfaces, floor drains, raised
floor locations, floor levelness requirements, and floor loading requirements, and the
floor area to have acid resistance treatment for battery charging areas and in-floor
pits; mezzanine locations, lighting, and sprinkler risers; roof or wall hung equipment
loads and centerline for method (piece or customer-order transport) travel paths;
lighting levels in foot candles, uninterruptible power supply (UPS), dock lights, and
battery charging and other power panel requirements in both number, amperage, and
location; vending machines, convenience outlets, work station bus ducts with plug-
in receptacles, dedicated electrical lines, and power panels for special equipment;
and walls, fences, special rooms for vaults, cafeteria, and computer equipment.
Outline Building Criteria. Your outline summary building criteria (written func-
tional specifications) and drawings make your building bid package more complete
and effective. The items in the building outline criteria determine who is to receive
the written functional specifications and who is your architect, specify the equipment
pieces and avoid the use of or equal, and states that the architect building drawings
are the building project parameters and are over your companys building written
functional specifications and drawings.
Your building outline design criteria development encompasses all aspects to
provide a building to house your inventory, method, and other necessary activities
to conduct your companys business. To obtain your desired building, you prepare
building drawings and an outline design written functional specification package.
Together this building document (written functional specification) and your building
drawings show and state to your architect and building contractor your design
requirements for your building and method requirements.
Your building drawings are lined pictures that show all the building related items.
These related items are elevations from a floor or elevated floors to the grade level;
elevations from the floor to ceiling or clearances that you desire in the building
between building obstacles or proposed building items and method; the horizontal
clear dimensions between a building column and method equipment; and functional
area locations and equipment.
These building drawings are drawn to a scale or the same scale as the method
plan view drawings; depict the building skeleton with details that outline the method
operational intent; are supplemental drawings to the architect or building contractor
drawings but are not actual building construction drawings; are produced on a
compact disc (CD), diskette, vellum, paper, or sepia or Mylar reproducible mate-
rial; have an organized content and are complete; clearly depict and state your method
objective; are drawn correctly; and have concise and clear notes.
If you are to build a new facility or relocate into an existing building, you prepare
building and method or equipment layout drawings. These drawings show the exist-
ing building equipment locations and characteristics.
Various Building Drawings. Your building drawings are building construction
plan-view and detail view-drawings, method plan-view and detail-view drawings,
special method drawings, electrical drawings, and plumbing and other utility drawings.
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Plan-View Building Construction Drawing. Your new building construction


plan-view drawings are the first building drawings. The building drawings contain
all necessary dimensional data that relate to method layout, all method loading
requirements, and all special equipment or special conditions that your company
requires in the facility.

Detail-View Building Construction Drawings. The detail-view building con-


struction drawings represent the second building drawing group. These building
drawings include all items that are relevant to the physical building construction.
These items are overall internal building size, length, width, and external and clear
ceiling height; column foot plate size and column bay size spacing (length, width,
and center lines) and bay pattern direction; all internal and external partition walls,
fencing, and screening; proposed and future vendor and delivery truck, container,
and rail dock door locations and sizes; vendor and customer delivery truck, container,
and rail dock heights, dock levelers, canopies, drains, slopes, and concrete landing
gear pads; emergency exits, doorways, and stairways; offices, restrooms, and cafe-
terias, including vending machines and other rooms; all pits and drains in the floor;
computer room location and floor type; each piece or customer-order transport travel
path, and the floor, wall, or ceiling loading and special floor treatments; compactor
location; mezzanines or elevated floors that show clear space between the floors,
structural support members, elevations, and stairways; ceiling or wall hung method
or equipment locations; required electrical panel locations and power requirements;
and all locations that require water, drains, or other utilities.
Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method Drawings. Your method draw-
ings are the third drawing set that shows the method and piece or customer-order
travel paths. The piece or customer-order travel paths are considered high traffic
areas and the method equipment has imposed loads. The loads are static (stationary)
and dynamic (moving) loads that are imposed upon the building floor, wall, or
ceiling. Your method equipment load drawings show how the load is imposed onto
the building floor, wall, or ceiling, which includes length, width, and weight and
type; load type and size, which includes dead load, live load, or personnel load;
state in which the load is concentrated or uniformly distributed on the piece or
customer-order travel path; method of attachment for the load; conveyor motors,
drives, and personnel or maintenance platforms; when a forklift truck is used, the
type and wheel size and the maximum weight on one wheel to complete the storage
transaction; cross-sectional views and elevations views; and construction type for
the snow, wind, rain, and seismic conditions.

Special Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method or Equipment


Drawings. Special method equipment or structural drawings is the fourth drawing
group. This drawing group shows the additional items that include mechanical dock
levelers and dock area slope; overhead dock doors, to include size and window and
the door direction to open; vendor and customer delivery truck dock seals or shelters
and bumpers; overhead canopy height and extension; toilet rooms and janitor fixture
layouts; vision panels in wall partitions; wall and floor openings, pits, conveyor,
AGV, tow line, mobile vehicle travel paths, and expansion joints; special floor
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58 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

requirements; special plumbing and drain requirements; special sprinkler require-


ments with fire wall and floor penetrations; special concrete landing gear pad require-
ments; battery charging area; and the expansion wall.
Existing Building Information. If your building strategy is to relocate into an
existing building, the physical building modifications or additions are probably nec-
essary for an existing building to meet your particular method operational require-
ments. In advance, you try to obtain all preliminary information on the building
structure, floor load capacity, available electrical power, and other utility capacities
to ascertain whether its capabilities match your requirements. This building informa-
tion is available from the original builder, architect drawings, or written specifications.
The special building conditions are shown on the existing building drawings:
all existing information about the building such as column size, bay size, activity
areas, floor thickness, door locations and dimensions, power panel locations and
available power, water and other utilities, and the other building facts that were
previously mentioned for a new building; modifications to the building that are noted
on the drawing and referenced back to a description of the modification that is
contained within the written functional specifications; all new additions to the build-
ing, designated and referenced to the written functional specifications; method equip-
ment loadings, identified on the drawing; and all major building alterations, checked
carefully with your architect, builder, or order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method
or equipment vendor. You should visit and survey the building to verify the buildings
existing features.
During this visit, it is a good practice to take building pictures or a videotape.
These building pictures include the building interior and exterior and include the
vendor and customer delivery truck yard area, landscape, roof, walls, floor surfaces,
doors, electrical panels, all existing equipment, columns, and special rooms.
Electrical Drawings. Your next drawing group is the building electrical drawings.
These drawings contain all pertinent items and information about your electrical
requirements inside and outside of the building. The electrical information includes
light fixture types, motion detectors location, lighting patterns, and specified lighting
levels above the floor surface at specific elevations. These lighting levels are stated
for each method functional area. This includes a description of the work area and
aisle widths. Also included are duplex convenience outlets and bus ducts for pro-
cessing areas and outlets for items such as time clocks and vending machines, electric
water coolers, delivery truck dock lights, and required electrical feeders for method
equipment control panels. These panels are stated by amps, voltage, phase, cycle,
and desired location.
Specify the disconnect type and locations for all feeders. Define the stub-up
type, amount or length of desired cable, and work assignment for tie-in to the method
equipment panel; special requirements for future method or equipment expansion;
mobile vehicle equipment battery charging areas; requirement for computers or
special equipment such as a dedicated line; emergency power system (UPS) and
low-voltage and spike (electrical surge) filters; emergency lighting system; and
internal communication system.
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When you consider relocating into an existing building, in addition to the above
electrical information, your electrical drawings indicate all existing electrical data
that are obtained from a building survey. The additional electrical information
includes modifications and additions to the lighting system within the building, noted
and referenced to the specifications; the main electrical service amount and feed
panel locations; existing equipment panel locations, with available power stated and
identified; and existing battery charging locations.
Plumbing and Other Utility Drawings. Your last group of building drawings
consists of the plumbing and other utility drawings. These drawings show all impor-
tant items, locations, and information that is related to the building plumbing and
other utility requirements inside and outside of the facility. The information on these
drawings includes the location of yard drains and building drains; the location and
size of water tanks and holding tanks, risers, shutoff valves, and associated pumps;
the locations of all outlets and piping; the location and size of all equipment such
as backup generators; the location of all hose drops and fire sprinklers; and gas pipe
size and location.
Develop Summary Building Outline Design Criteria
Your summary building outline design criteria and written building specifications
are instructions to your architect and building contractor. This document is a sup-
plement and is an explanation of your drawings. Your building outline design crite-
rias six categories are general information, design criteria general, design criteria
mechanical, design criteria plumbing and other utilities, design criteria electrical,
and design criteria building and modifications.
General Information. Your first written building functional specification section
is the general information section. This general information section outlines to your
architect and building construction company the items that are key to providing your
company with a complete and finished building. These items include interior building
and exterior grounds or landscaping. These building items satisfy your method
functional requirements and comply with all local and federal government require-
ments and codes.
General Design Criteria. Your second written building specification section is the
general design criteria. The general design criteria give your architect and building
construction company your requirements for property data; site improvements, grad-
ing, paving and sidewalks, landscaping, fencing, berm, entrance, roadways and
parking areas, signage, sprinkler pond (tank), holding tank, cafeteria, and other
activity areas; building size; bay size and column size; minimum clear height from
the finished floor to ceiling steel; drawing list; concrete work, general, foundation,
and floor required F rating or levelness, thickness, sealer, and rebar depth and
location; structural framing, general, special loading, painting; and dock equipment
and canopy and drains.
Mechanical Design Criteria. Your third outline of the building design criteria
section indicates the building mechanical components. This section includes heating,
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60 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

office and work area air conditioning, facility air changes, duct work, facility heating,
and maintenance and battery charging area.
Plumbing and Other Utility Design Criteria. Your next outline criteria section
is for the buildings plumbing and other utilities. This section includes general
plumbing; sewers and drainages; fixtures, restrooms, fountains, water tanks, sewer
holding tanks, hazardous product holding tanks, and water closets; sprinkler or foam
systems and fire hoses (drops); outlets; and gas pipe lines and usage locations.
Electrical Design Criteria. Your electrical design criteria is the next building
design criteria section. The section includes a general outline that includes electrical
power and lighting distribution; motors and wiring; lighting in general, to include
foot candle levels at a stated elevation above the floor surface for each method
activity area; convenience outlets; lighting panels; raceways under or across the
ceiling or floor ducts; telephone raceways; alarm system; public address and sound
system; bus duct requirements; time and regular clocks; battery chargers; data pro-
cessing requirements; method equipment panels; UPS size and location; and fixture
type and the ability to interface with a timing device or motion detector.
Existing Building Modifications. Your last building design criteria section is the
existing building modifications that are required on an existing structure.
Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method and Equipment
Layout Drawings
Your third drawing type is the order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method or equip-
ment layout (plan view) drawings. After your method layout has been completed on
a plan view drawing, it shows all dimensions and notes that are necessary to show
a completed method. This method layout includes piece or customer-order travel
paths. This plan view drawing leaves no questions for your method vendors. The
drawing items on the method drawings are necessary building details such as building
columns and base plate size, walls, and in-floor pits; identification method work
stations and functional locations with symbols and numbers, and method equipment
component identification numbers or symbols; and elevations for method equipment
and other items such as all doors types and mezzanines. When mezzanines are shown,
the elevation is stated from the ground-level floor surface to the elevated level floor
surface. Also included are stairways or elevations; clear aisle dimensions or piece
or customer-order travel paths; and symbols that represent electrical panels, air
compressors, and doors.
Cover Sheet
Your next drawing component is the drawing cover sheet. The cover sheet indicates
your companys name, proposed facility, and site location.
Building, Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method, and
Equipment Detail Drawings
Your next drawing package has the detail building and method drawings. The method
and building detail drawing package group gives your architect, building contractor,
and method vendors the direction and information for specific items. These items are
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compactor or baler location; in-floor pits; a raised floor for method equipment; mobile
vehicle aisles and high traffic piece or customer-order travel paths; equipment sup-
ported mezzanines; ceiling-, wall-, or floor-supported piece or customer-order transport
travel paths; wire or rail guided vehicle travel paths, elevated-piece or customer-order
travel paths, floor surfaces, and wall penetrations; and proposed safety protection.
Each drawing shows the clearance between method equipment and building
equipment, the clear elevations from a floor surface to the bottom of the above ceiling
steel, and the exact dimensions for various fixed equipment, mezzanines, or method.
Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method and Drawing List
After your method and building drawing package is completed and checked for
accuracy, you prepare a drawing list that indicates drawing number, drawing titles
and when you issued the drawings, each drawings revision numbers and date, facility
location, and company name.
When you send a method and building drawing package or selected drawings
to your architect, builder, method vendor, or other organization such as governmental
agency, the drawing list is a method to verify that you sent the drawings that were
requested by the requesting company. The drawing list serves as an introductory
letter and to tell the receiving company the drawings that are contained in the
package.

Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method Bid Process

When you are required to obtain order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method or


equipment bids, then there are two approaches to obtain your request for a quote.
These two bid approaches are a single-source bid and a competitive bid.
Single-Source Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method Bid
The single-source method bid has you send your companys request for quote (RFQ)
to one vendor. When your method has specific conditions, the single-source bid
process is a good approach. The bid conditions are that you have had an excellent
past relationship with the vendor, the project dollar value is within your limits, there
is an emergency operational situation, or there is only one manufacturer.
Competitive Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method Bid
The competitive method bid process has you send your companys RFQ to at least
three vendors. To obtain three good bids, you send the company RFQ to five vendors.
The competitive bid process conditions are that the project has a high project dollar
value, it requires standard method equipment, and a competitive market is present.

Your Bid Package or Request for Quote Preparation

Your RFQ contains your companys detailed written functional specifications and
drawings. The written functional specification and drawing package allows your
method vendor to understand your method purpose.
Your method RFQ or bid package preparation is based on your companys past
bid packages and follows your companys bid quote procedure.
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62 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

The standard method bid package components are a cover sheet that states your
companys name, address, project number, date of issue, due date, and method
equipment type; a table of contents; instructions to the vendors that outline the bid
package intent; and a quotation intent form that requires the vendor to indicate its
intention to participate in your companys bid process. If the vendor decides to
participate as a bidder on your project, the vendor returns the completed form to
your company. If a vendor decides to decline to bid on the project and returns the
form to your company, this procedure gives you the time to substitute another vendor.
After a predetermined number of days from the bid issue date, you telephone each
vendor to verify bid package receipt and the vendors interest in your companys
project. A vendor schedule indicates the critical project dates such as contract issue
date, start installation date, test and debug date, and start-up date. Another item
included is the vendor payment schedule and the contract dollar amount that is
retained by your company.
The drawings required section states the required vendor method plan view and
detail drawings that are submitted to your company. Working conditions include a
workmanship section that states what is expected from the vendors on the job site,
on-site or general working conditions, and delivery road conditions at the site. It
includes who is responsible to obtain all required government permits and approvals
for the vendor work. In your method and building written functional specifications,
you clearly state that the method vendors, architect, and builder are responsible to
obtain all work (governmental) permits that are required for their work on the project.
If the contractor or vendor is not responsible, they are required to notify you in
writing that your company is responsible for the job or work governmental permits.
Also included are insurance policies, dollar coverage, the additional insured
(your company) and site location. Operational and maintenance publications, spare
parts list, operator and maintenance training days and location, and the vendor
training personnel are also noted. This section identifies the maintenance and oper-
ational manual number, training days, who will conduct the training sessions, and
a recommended spare parts list and prices.
A testing and acceptance section outlines the criteria to determine that the
method is installed as specified by your company and notes the date that starts the
manufacturer warranty period. A support section defines the criteria for all ceiling
hung, wall, or elevated method equipment, and identifies the geographic location to
allow the vendor to determine the seismic location.
Air supply states the requirement for an air compressor and the need to place
the air compressor inside the building in a shroud (enclosed box) with a drain or
place it outside. The painting section outlines the color and coating finish for the
order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method or equipment. The mechanical section
details the method equipment requirements, elevations, length and width, and
national standards referred to as design criteria.
The electrical specification section states the type and electrical power quantity,
electrical panel locations, and method control panels; size; national standards that
are referred to as a design criteria; and the fixture type and its interface to a timing
device or motion detector. The pieces or customer orders to be handled and flow
rates sections provide the method vendor with your companys piece or customer-
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order size; direction of travel length, width, and height; weight; peak and average
volumes; physical characteristics; and hours of operation.
The drawings furnished section lists all company drawings that are included in
the bid package. The scope of work section provides the method vendor with the
project and your business objectives. The daily operations description is a written
statement that traces the piece or customer-order flow across or over the method
equipment and identifies the task that is performed at each work station. The method
transport equipment list is a document that assigns each piece of equipment a
number; load-carrying surface description; approximate length and width; side
guards; floor or other support method; load-carrying surface travel speed per minute;
approximate elevations above a floor; and special comments such as tapered rollers,
end stops, powered nose-over and tail, and emergency stops (E-stops).
The control list is a document that gives a vendor the minimum required photo-
eyes; control panels; motor control system characteristics; mimic panels; minimum
required E-stop buttons or pull cords; start/stop buttons or cords; and flow control
sensors including scales, label applicators, counters, and bar code scanners (readers).
The equipment specification summary form is a document where a vendor states
the equipment quantity and type that is supplied for the project. The exceptions
section permits the vendor to explain all alternative designs for your method. The
pricing form is the document that requires the method vendor to list the price for
each major piece of equipment, freight, unloading labor and mechanical installation
labor, electrical installation labor, and additions or deductions.
The pricing forms second section is for the vendors macro project schedule,
which states the number of days or weeks to complete the major project items, such
as engineered drawings that are approved by your company; equipment manufac-
turing time; equipment transportation time from manufacture location to your site;
method mechanical and electrical installation time; debug, startup, and acceptance
time; bonds; insurance limits; warranty; taxes and permits; and local service dealer
address and telephone number.

Vendor Payment Schedules

In your companys bid package, you state your companys vendor payment sched-
ule. This section states the proposed payments for partial and final vendor work
completion at your job site. These payments are made for vendor engineering
work, equipment delivered to the job site, installation labor used on your project,
or other expenses.
A payment schedule section has your stated retention amount. The retention
amount is the dollar amount that your company holds back or retains to ensure
completion of your work per your companys drawings and written functional
specifications.
The vendor payment schedules include lump sum; the lump sum payment has
your company make one payment for the contract sum to a building contractor or
method vendor. This payment is made for the work completion as outlined in your
contract. The second schedule is percentage of payment. The percentage payment
method requires your company to make periodic payments to a building contractor
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64 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

or method vendor. These payments are based on an agreed-upon percentage of the


total contract amount. The third schedule is progress payment. The progress payment
arrangement has your company make progress payments to a building contractor or
method vendor. These payments are based on an agreed dollar amount for items
such as engineering work, method equipment deliveries to the site, and installation
labor that was used on the site.

Steps to Ensure Three Accurate Bids

Your method vendor relationship with your company is a very important factor
that is key to obtaining an accurate bid for your request for quotes. To ensure that
you have at least three bids for your method, there are several guidelines to follow.
First, establish a list with five reputable method vendors. To determine that these
method vendors are interested in your project, telephone each potential method
vendor to determine the vendors interest in your project. Release your bid request
promptly and send the bid to the potential method vendors by a delivery company
that obtains a delivery receipt. Maintain a professional relationship with all poten-
tial method vendors. Answer all vendor questions quickly and precisely. Require
on-time, accurate, and complete bids. Have alternative potential method vendors.
To the method vendor, exceptions are accepted as an option to the base quote that
is your companys design.

Bid Return Procedure

You have the method vendors return their bids to your office. Your first bid return
option is an unsealed bid. The unsealed bid return procedure is the first method
vendor bid return procedure. With the unsealed bid return procedure, the method
vendor returns the bid to your office. The vendor returns the bid by mail, delivery
service, or by a vendor company representative. The unsealed bid procedure has a
vendor bid presented to you in an open envelope. At this time you can review any
or all bid sections. The second option is a sealed bid. The sealed bid procedure has
your company include a bid return envelope in each vendor bid package. On the
envelope exterior, your company writes the bid description, or the envelope contains
a sealed bid for your method component. The vendor uses the envelope to return
the sealed bid to your office. Prior to or on the bid return date, the bid return is
made by a delivery service or vendor. After this bid return date and time you open
and review all bids. All bids that are received after the date and time are not accepted
but are held in your project file.

Bid Review or Bid Evaluation Process

After your method vendor bids are returned, on the bid return date you review each
vendor bid. This bid review process requires you to make an economic and functional
(operational) review for each vendor bid. The bid review process determines the
best method vendor price and the vendor adherence to your method drawings and
written functional specifications. This includes your vendor adherence to your com-
panys mechanical and electrical specifications.
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The method vendor bid review process steps are to establish an evaluation form
for the method bid and review with a consistent format that is based on economic
and critical operational information. This information includes price for the method
equipment, freight, total weight, mechanical and electrical installation, total alter-
native pricing, and recommended price; time schedule for drawings, manufacture,
transportation, installation, debug, start-up, and acceptance; payment terms for com-
pletion and penalties for delays or bonus for early start-up; warranty conditions;
taxes and permits and who is responsible for drawing approval by the local author-
ities; prices that are valid for a number of days; compliance to local building codes
and whether work permits are included in the bid; insurance limits for workmens
compensation, automobile liability, and excess liability; name, address, and tele-
phone number of nearest full-service dealer; mechanical specification by each com-
ponent; and electrical specification by each component.
After these competitive method vendor price quotes and component lists are
presented on a spreadsheet, it is easy to compare each vendor price and equipment.
Reviewing the prices, you have a good tool to negotiate for a better price or to
improve the method design and determine the best bid.
From this bid evaluation, you establish the recommend method vendor for the
total project or for an equipment piece. The recommend method vendor and the
price is totaled and presented to your management for its final review and approval.
If you and your staff are not satisfied with the accepted bids or you desire to
have other (late) bids accepted for the project, your options are to accept the other
potential method vendor (late) bids, bid the method again, or request a second bid
from the vendors who submitted their bids on time.
After you obtain top management approval for the project and the recommended
method vendor, there are several steps to maintain your companys project schedule.
First, issue a letter of intent or company purchase order to the method vendor. At a
later date your company issues a job contract to the method vendor. The second step
is to maintain a good professional relationship with the unsuccessful method vendors;
you issue letters that explain to these vendors why they did not receive your companys
contract; and thirdly, as soon as possible, you develop a master project time schedule.
This master project schedule indicates method vendor start, intermediate or
milestone, and completion dates for method plan view and detail drawing completion
and drawing approval; equipment manufacture and transportation; mechanical instal-
lation; electrical installation; method debug and acceptance; and method turnover
or effective use.

Your Companys Purchase Order Preparation

Your next step of your companys new facility construction or order-fulfillment or


across-the-dock method or equipment installation is to issue the proper PO documen-
tation. This document includes your companys written functional specifications and
plan view and detail drawings; letters of intent; and building, master project, and
method vendor schedules. These documents in your companys PO coordinate the
building contractor activities with the method vendor installation activities, and
method vendor installation activities with other vendor activities.
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66 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Your Purchase Order Contents

Your PO to the method vendor has your companys (recorded) numbered PO. The
PO reference data include your method written functional specifications; engineered
plan view and detail drawings; vendor proposal; letters of clarification; and attend-
ees, letters of intent, and other important correspondence.
Your complete method PO contains vendor name and address, date, ship-via
address, ship-to address, bill-to address, page numbers, department number, special
shipment instructions or notification, invoice acknowledgment and dollar amount
separation requirements, and method description.
Your PO text includes your written functional specifications for the method.
These specifications include cover page, title, and reference to all the pages; your
plan view and detail drawings; the method vendor proposal number and date,
addenda, revisions, and letters of clarification; a statement of vendor responsibility
and schedules for engineering, manufacturing, transportation, and installation; new
or used equipment components; tax payment; government permits and costs; freight
charges that state shipment point and destination and prepaid or collect at the delivery
location; total price; earliest and latest equipment delivery date and method start
installation date; and payment terms and warranty issue.

Letter of Intent

If you are unable to issue a formal PO and your company has to make a commitment
to the method vendor, a letter of intent allows your method vendor to maintain the
project schedule. The letter of intent is basically an advance purchase order from
your company to the method vendor. After receiving a letter of intent and with
standard method equipment, most method equipment vendors proceed with the
method drawings and engineering work only, or method drawings and engineering
work with limited method equipment manufacture. Your method vendor continues
until the vendor receives your formal written PO or contract.
Good contract administration practice specifies that you sign and approve all
letters of intent sent to your method vendor. Your letter of intent includes all of
the above items and it states a reasonable time limit for you and your vendor to
reach a formal agreement. It is important that your correspondence, letter of intent,
and PO copies are legible and sent to the appropriate vendor. A copy is placed in
your files.

Other Important Project Factors

After your PO is released to the method vendors, you and the method vendor
arrange lead (schedule) times for engineering, manufacturing, freight, mechanical
installation, electrical installation, test and debug activities, and start-up times. Any
method vendor revisions or updates are made to the method vendor project schedule
and to your master project schedule. The revised vendor and master project sched-
ule copies are issued to your architect, building contractor, method vendor, and
your files.
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The next step is to establish the method vendor and builder project manager
who is assigned to your project; start and completion drawing dates; and fabrication
start and completion dates, which include the vendor plant that will manufacture
your method equipment. This permits you to visit the plant and record the method
equipment manufacture. You also establish the date when your method equipment
manufacturer can alter its manufacturing schedule without incurring an added
expense to your company. This date is very important in the case of method vendor
installation changes that result from building construction date adjustments due to
weather or construction progress delays. You indicate to the building contractor and
method vendor the dollar amount or extra charge for a delayed method start-up due
to late building construction or method installation.

Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method or Equipment Supplier


Drawing Review Process

To maintain the project schedule as the method vendor plan view and detail view
drawings are presented to you, you expeditiously review and approve, approve as
noted, or do not approve your method vendor drawings. To make corrections,
revisions, or adjustments to the drawings, you write notes on the appropriate drawing.
These notes indicate your method review that is shown on the drawing. Each drawing
review correspondence between your company and your method vendor is made in
a transmittal form or letter document. A transmittal or letter copy is sent with the
drawings to the method vendor and is placed in your project files, and a set of review
drawings is placed in your drawing rack.
The method vendor drawings that involve ceiling load hangers, affixing sway
braces to a building wall, attachment to a building structure, pit in the floor, or anchor
and support from the floor are forwarded to your architect or structural engineer for
review and approval. Their approval documents are sent to you and your method
vendor. A copy is placed in your project file.
An important part of the method vendor drawing review process is the clearance
(open space) that the method equipment (product travel path) requires to fit into the
facility. To ensure that there is sufficient open space, you perform a drawing review.
The drawing review process requires you to look at the method travel paths with
piece or customer-order on the load-carrying surface; the sprinkler line and riser
elevations, shut-off valves, and locations; the ceiling-, roof-, mezzanine-, and floor-
supported work or equipment platforms; stairways; water lines and heaters; chillier
lines; wall penetrations and floor openings with the associated protection; lighting
panels and electrical panels; and the necessary electrical power and air conditioning.

Document All Changes

During your facility construction and method installation phase, changes occur to a
building or method drawing for many reasons. When a discrepancy occurs in your
building or method drawings, you and your architect, building contractor, and method
vendor adjust the drawing or change the items that are shown on the drawing. After
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68 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

the changes are made on a drawing, you note and approve the required drawing
changes with a new drawing. Proper documentation or a letter or transmittal form
accompanies the drawings in the change process. This notification is sent to your
method vendor, architect, and building contractor, and a letter copy and a drawing
set is placed in your files.

Master Project Schedule

With a completed master project schedule, you coordinate the method vendor
schedule with the building construction and the other vendor schedules. If date
adjustments are required to any other vendor and building construction company
schedules, you revise and update the appropriate individual method vendor schedule
and your master project schedule. This master project schedule revision reflects the
required adjustments and is clearly understood by your method vendor, architect,
and building contractor.
To notify your method vendor, architect, or building contractor that an adjust-
ment has been made to the master project schedule or to the building or method
installation schedule, practice good communication methods. Write to each method
vendor on your companys stationery, or hold a meeting on site or at your companys
office that is attended by your method vendor, architect, and building contractor.
A revised master project schedule, building schedule, and method vendor project
schedule are sent or given at the meeting to your method vendor, architect, and
builder. The revised schedules state the revision date and revision reason.
Master Project Schedule Changes by Letter
The first master project schedule revision method is to send a letter to your method
vendor, architect, or builder. This letter explains the reason for a master or individual
schedule change to your method vendor, architect, or builder. It is the responsibility
for your method vendor, architect, or builder to make the appropriate changes to
their schedules.
Master Project Schedule Changes at a Meeting
A second master project schedule change method is to call a meeting at your office
or at the site. At this meeting, your architect, builder, and method vendor verify the
master project schedule changes and notate the changes on their master project
schedule copies and individual project schedules.
As an enclosure to the master project schedule, copies of your revised master
project schedule are given to each attendee. Each revision to the master project
schedule or method vendor, builder, or architect schedule is identified with the
revision date and change reason.

Bar Chart Master Project Schedule

The bar chart is a form for a master project schedule. The bar chart has columns.
The first column states the method vendor activity. After the first column, each
column indicates a time period (months, weeks, or days). The chart also has lines.
Each line indicates a method vendor activity in the sequence that is required to
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 69

complete the project. The intersection of a column and line indicates the anticipated
method vendor activity start date and completion date.

Drawing Review During the Master Schedule Development

During the method vendor plan view and detailed view drawing development project
phase, to maintain the project schedule and to ensure that your company receives
the facility or method as designed by your project team, you promptly review and
approve all building and method drawings. This building and method drawing review
process has your attention focused on piece or customer-order flow, safety standards,
and method layout per your companys plan view and detailed drawings and written
functional specifications.

Contract Administration

Your next important project management responsibility is to establish a mechanism


to track the building construction and method installation costs. With contract admin-
istration, you track the total project cost, which includes method vendor, architect,
and builder. These contract costs are tracked by your companys invoice payment
to the architect, builder, or method vendor.
The first step in your companys contract administration is reference in your
written functional specifications and job contract. In these documents, you state the
agreed-upon vendor payment requirements and procedures. During your first vendor
meeting, you restate to the method vendor, architect, and builder that you require
specific information in a specific format on each invoice. On each invoice, you
require your companys project number with description and an invoice payment
amount separated into specific classifications: method equipment, mechanical labor,
electrical installation labor, freight, and taxes.
After your establishment of the vendor invoice procedures, you set up your
individual method vendor, builder, and architect payment tracking system. An invoice
payment tracking system establishes a multiple-column and multiple-line document.
This document sections are a heading that includes contract date, contract num-
ber, vendor name, address, telephone, fax, and Internet address, and your companys
project number and total dollar value less your companys retention dollar amounts.
There is one column for each vendor cost classification: method equipment, mechan-
ical labor, electrical labor, freight, taxes, and retention. Each line has the description
and date for each contract or project transaction. A project transaction is your
companys payment to a vendor, job extra or change of scope to the contract that
adds or subtracts from a vendor contract, a deduction that results from vendor
purchase of existing method equipment, and other vendor activity that adds or
subtracts dollars on a vendor contract. With multiple lines under each column, you
list each method vendor project (contract) transaction that affects the contract dollar
amount. The first entry is your companys contract dollar amount and the contract
issue date. Each subsequent entry is dated and the invoice dollar amount is entered
under the appropriate column. During the contract life, if you make a dollar adjust-
ment to the contract, the issue date and dollar amount are added or subtracted from
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70 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

the total contract dollar amount. The change is a change to the scope of work, or
you issue extras to the job contract.
This contract administration method provides you with an accurate and updated
project cost status for the total project and the architect, building contractor, and
method vendor. The contract administration method tracks your project costs on a
paper form or an office computer and presents them on a spreadsheet.

Schedule Building Construction and Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-


Dock Method Vendor Installation Meetings

During the building construction phase, a building construction review meeting is


attended by you and your architect, building contractor, and method vendor. The
building construction and method vendor installation job meeting copies are sent to
all attendees. Approved copies are placed in your project file and sent to your
architect, building contractor, and method vendors.
When your method vendor is required to interface with another vendor or builder
equipment, for building company and method vendor installation compatibility pur-
poses it is vital to have a meeting. At this meeting, the method vendor reviews the
equipment plan view (layout) and detail drawings with the building company and
the other vendor to ensure compatibility.
This coordination drawing review activity between the building company and
the method vendor is described in the building and method written specifications;
it does require your reiteration and your follow-up during the method vendor drawing
preparation and drawing approval phases.
As the building company and method vendor installation progresses, you ensure
that there is a coordination between the building construction company and method
vendor. This project management activity is to effect and monitor communications
between the architect, building contractor, and method vendor. To ensure this coor-
dination among these groups, the project management activities are to conduct a
preliminary scheduling meeting and a meeting before the start of installation.
Preliminary Schedule Meeting
The preliminary project schedule meeting is held after your PO release to the building
construction company and method vendor. The meeting involves your building
construction company and method vendor project managers, the architect, and you.
During this preliminary schedule meeting, you review the building construction
schedule; interface with your method vendor and other equipment vendors; and
discuss general site issues such as temporary electrical power location and quantity,
heat, light, water, toilets, floor, roof, and walls for critical areas. This feature allows
on-schedule method equipment installation with long lead times and ensures pro-
tection from the weather for the method equipment. If the building construction
company has a construction problem or building materials (roof and wall) are in
short supply, this approach allows the building construction to start in the area
above the building area that protects your longest lead time for the method equip-
ment installation. This building construction approach compensates for those build-
ing construction shortfalls (problems) and allows you to maintain the scheduled
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 71

method start-up date. Also under review are building construction and method
installation worker automobile and truck parking; access to the unloading location
dock and the access road and truck yard area condition; hard-hat and hard-shoe
requirements; toilet, telephone, and office usage; temporary method equipment
storage area; eating, drinking, and smoking locations; and vehicle driving onto the
facility floor.
Meeting minutes are sent to all attendees and parties who are involved with the
building construction and method installation project, and a copy is placed in your
project file.
Meeting before the Start of Installation
This meeting is held at the new facility or remodel site 1 to 2 days prior to the start
date for your method installation. The attendees at this meeting include the architect,
building contractor, method vendor, and you. This meeting gives your method vendor
an opportunity to visit the construction site. During this visit, the method equipment
vendor reviews the building construction progress and the building readiness and
utility availability for installation work.
During this meeting, the method vendor reaffirms the installation schedule or
postpones the installation start due to building construction status to compensate for
a construction problem or a manufacturing problem. This method vendor installation
delay requires your building contractor or method vendor to unload and store the
method equipment and installation equipment on site in a weather protected area
until the actual installation area is available.
The meeting minutes are sent to your architect, building contractor, and method
vendor, and a copy is placed in your project file.
Meeting Attendance Is a Must
During the entire building construction and method vendor installation process, your
attendance at a building construction and method vendor installation job-site meeting
is vital to ensure that you have project control. Attendees at these job-site coordi-
nation meetings include you and your building contractor, your building contractors
important subcontractors, your architect, and your method vendor. At these meetings,
the attendance of the project team members enables you to anticipate your method
vendor or building construction schedule conflicts, provide a forum to present sched-
uled method equipment installation start dates, hear method vendor complaints or
review other issues, understand circumstances that affect your method vendor instal-
lation progress, and schedule the next meeting.
The meeting minutes are kept and copies are sent to the architect, building
contractor, and method vendor, and a copy is placed in your project file.

On-Site Meetings

After the method vendor starts the equipment installation, on-site meetings with job
superintendents on an informal weekly schedule are necessary.
Most on-site meetings are held on a Friday or Monday, which permits you and
your method vendor and building construction company to review the past weeks
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72 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

installation progress compared to the schedule, and to make adjustments to the next
weeks planned work activities.
These meetings are held at least once per week and enable the method vendor
and building construction company to state method equipment manufacture prob-
lems, shipment problems, labor problems, equipment installation problems, and other
job-site problems that are associated with the building construction or method vendor.

Your Installation Office

During the building construction and method vendor installation phase, it is a


necessity, especially on a large and complex project or a long-term project, that you
have an office on site. The most suitable office location is in the building. If this
building location is not possible due to the building construction, you rent an office
trailer. The office trailer is located in the building vicinity or adjacent to the building.
The job-site office is equipped with telephone, fax machine, and portable computer
with modem; file cabinet; drawing rack; desk; large flat surface table to spread
drawings on its surface; heater and water heater; and light fixture and chairs.
To coordinate and control the building construction and method installation
activity, your office is equipped with the necessary project reference material and
office supplies: a full up-to-date approved building and method drawing set; complete
building and method written functional specification copies; building construction
company and method vendor proposals, POs, letters of intent, correspondence letters,
and transmittals; your companys letterhead stationery, transmittal forms, and fax
forms; and other miscellaneous items such as measuring tape, drawing instruments,
drafting paper, required drawing scales, and office items.

What to Check and Inspect

During the building construction, you make inspections and checks to ensure that
the actual building construction matches the architects drawings. You check the
building structure for the tightness to tolerances to the plan view and elevation
detailed drawings dimensions. There are many items to check. These items are the
overall building length and width actual dimensions and clear dimensions from the
finished floor surfaces to the ceiling steel or mezzanine finished-floor surfaces; the
centerline column spacing in all directions and column base size (length and width);
the location and size of the vendor and customer delivery truck docks, overhead
doors, and emergency exits; the location and size of the vents within the facility
walls and ceiling; the mezzanine elevations to include the clear height under the
mezzanine to the level- or finished-floor surface; and the locations and size (height
and width) of openings or passageways in the finished floors and walls. This includes
the employee safety and fire protection of these passageways. You also check the
locations and size of power panels, outlets, and lights; the locations of pits, including
length, width, and depth; sprinkler rise locations and locations of the main sprinkler
pipes, branches, drops, and shut-off valves; locations of light fixtures and clear
vertical clearance to the finished-floor surface under the light fixtures; and stairways,
platforms, and tunnels.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 73

During the building construction process for a special area, some companies
utilize a consultant to monitor the construction progress and quality of the material
and work quality. Some special areas are structural steel erection and floor flatness,
cement quality, and rebar depth.
In many building construction projects sprinkler drops and light fixtures are not
completed prior to your method installation start date. If this situation occurs, your
building inspection and check continues along with the method installation.
Whenever possible all ceiling sprinklers and light fixtures are installed prior to
your method installation activity. This practice reduces building construction activity
and method installation activity conflicts between the building contractor (sprinkler
or light fixture subcontractor) and the method installation crew, and provides lighting
for the method installation work.
After you check the building construction work, your activity and time involves
the continuous monitoring and checking of the method vendor manufactured
equipment deliveries and installation work. You monitor proper method equipment
installation, maintain and review the building construction and method equipment
installation schedules, oversee the desired coordination between the method vendor
installation crews and building contractor crews, and ensure adherence to the
agreed-upon building construction and method equipment vendor installation pro-
cedures and practices.

Check Your Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock


Equipment Deliveries

According to Murphys Law, if anything can go wrong, it will. This invariably applies
to your method vendor equipment deliveries and installation work. No matter how
well your master product schedule and method vendor installation schedules are
developed by your team and how well your method vendor manufacturing and
shipping departments perform, something can always go wrong. Examples include
late method equipment deliveries, early deliveries, damaged equipment component
receipt, or missing critical equipment sections or components to the method.
By continuously checking method vendor equipment deliveries to your job site
and maintaining good communications with the method vendor project manager and
on-site job meetings, you minimize a method equipment delivery problem. This
problem affects your method on-time start-up and you minimize other job-site
problems.
During the method equipment installation, you make continuous method equip-
ment inspections and checks. These inspection and check activities make sure that
the method installation does conform to your company and vendor agreed-upon
method plan-view and detail-view drawings and written functional specifications.
You ensure that the method installation is per your vendor plan-view and detail-
view drawings and written quotation specifications. A general list includes checking
the method or equipment components against your written functional specifications;
checking the method layout and elevation dimensions for racks, shelves, conveyors,
towlines, AGVs, trolley conveyors, mezzanines, or floors, and piece or customer-
order transport equipment against those that are shown on your plan-view and detail-
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74 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

view drawings; checking the powered method equipment locations for the powered
equipment components such as drives, take-ups, and support hangers, and their
locations in relation to vehicle, piece, or customer-order and personnel travel paths
and aisles, other equipment, and employee work stations; checking piece or cus-
tomer-order travel paths (aisles) for width, height, and run-out lengths and clear-
ances; and checking control panel proper locations, push buttons, pull cords, annun-
ciator panels, photo eyes, limit switches, and other method or piece or customer-
order flow control components.
As the method electrical equipment is being installed, you verify that the electrical
installation is per your agreed-upon drawings and written functional specifications.
Your initial method vendor electrical drawings contain schematic wiring dia-
grams only. For most installations, the method vendor detail conduit or wire way
layout drawings are never prepared by the electrical equipment supplier, a subcon-
tractor to the method vendor. Many electrical components such as stop/start controls,
E-stop pull cords, stop/start or E-stop push buttons, photo eyes, and limit switches
are shown only schematically but with no locations or height dimensions specified
on their drawings. Prior to the method vendor electrical component installation, you
approve each device quantity, location, and function with respect to safety, accessi-
bility, appropriate application, and functionality.
On your vendor method plan-view and detail-view drawings, the drives and take-
ups on conveyor travel paths are not located many times. If they are shown on
drawings, the method vendor installation crew does not adhere to the location that
is shown on the drawings. While locating these items as outlined in your written
functional specifications, you vendor gives consideration to your operational require-
ments: piece or customer-order travel paths or aisles, personnel work areas and
aisles, and proximity to other method or building equipment; accessibility for oper-
ators and maintenance staff; and employee safety.
In general your initial method or equipment vendor air piping and air compressor
layout drawings at best give a schematic layout. Per your written functional speci-
fications your method vendor has to identify the air compressor location and air pipe
path. The air pipe path follows the same path as the electrical wire path. An air
piping and air compressor consideration is the air compressor location. If the air
compressor is large and creates a higher noise level that is not allowed by code, to
reduce the noise level the options are to have the air compressor remain inside the
building and place a shroud (enclosure) around the air compressor, or to build an
enclosure outside the building wall to house the air compressor. The preferred
location is based on the air compressor noise level, air compressor size, accessibility
to the air compressor, and drain.

Check Your Building Construction and Order-Fulfillment or Across-


the-Dock Method Equipment Vendors Labor Force

Your next building construction and method vendor check is to make sure that your
building contractor and method vendor have the right qualified labor amount. This
qualified labor quantity is stated in the vendor proposal and is sufficient to complete
the installation work on schedule. You have no direct supervision responsibilities to
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 75

method vendor labor activity, but you can certainly check on the labor quality and
quantity that is employed on your job. If the building construction and method vendor
are understaffed and behind schedule, send a letter warning the building contractor
or method vendor. If there are any method start-up shortcomings as compared to
the job contract, you have taken the necessary steps to correct the situation and
protect your companys method start-up date.

How to Control Job Extras

During your building construction and method vendor installation, your project
manager more than likely has field changes, changes of scope, and job extras. Prior
to a change-of-scope or job-extra release to your building contractor or method, you
obtain a price quote for the required work to the building construction and method
equipment. Since the majority of your project change of scope or job extra affects
a building construction item or method equipment component change, to obtain the
best solution that minimizes a project schedule adjustment or project cost, you follow
this guideline. For the required work, you obtain a material and labor cost and time
quote from your building contractor and method vendor. After you review these two
price quotes, issue a written change of scope or job-extra document to the builder
or method vendor who has the preferred price quote.
The change-of-scope or job-extra document is signed by you and your building
construction company or method vendor. Copies are sent to the building contractor
or method vendor and placed in your project file. You make adjustments to the
appropriate master project, building contractor, or method vendor schedules and
to the necessary builder or method vendor contract administration (cost tracking)
form.
The additional costs for the building construction or method vendor material
and labor costs are over and above the original purchase order (job contract) dollar
amount. The additional costs are required to correct poor written functional speci-
fications or plan-view and detail-view drawings, such failing to identify who is to
unload or uncrate the method equipment on site or to specify the guardrail on the
wrong conveyor side. There may be extras due to poor coordination between the
architect drawings, building drawings, and method vendor drawings. The extras are
avoided in the bidding phase and in the final design phase by furnishing the method
vendor with the architects up-to-date drawings and making your method vendor
responsible for coordinating piece or customer-order travel paths in reference to the
building obstacles and other vendor equipment. Some potential piece or customer-
order travel path problems that occur result from column size and column base plate
size; ceiling or wall structure steel; sprinkler heads, risers, and other piping; and
ventilation ducting, piping, and other raceways.
Extras may be due to interference between the method equipment and piece or
customer-order travel paths. Situations like these are avoided by furnishing the
method vendor or other equipment vendor who is involved in a building area with
method vendor or other equipment vendor drawings, and making the method vendor
responsible for checking the vendor equipment drawings for adherence to the written
functional specifications and drawings, which helps to prevent interference.
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76 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Legitimate extras are due to changes in the building construction or method


layout, additional building or method equipment, and delays that are caused by the
building contractor or other equipment installers on site.

Contract Payment

A very important project manager responsibility is to ensure that the architect,


building contractor, and method vendor and their subcontractors are paid for their
material and labor work. To protect your company from potential future legal prob-
lems, the architect, building contractor, and method vendor invoice submittal process
requires that each progress or percentage invoice is accompanied with a partial
waiver of lien and release of rights, which includes labor, material, freight, and taxes.
The final invoice is accompanied with a final waiver of lien, release of rights, and
completed warranty. All invoices are sent to you for approval, and the building
construction company, architect, and method vendor have separated the dollar
amount on the invoice as you specified in the PO or job contract.

Project Progress Report

The other project management responsibilities for your project manager are issuing
building construction and method installation progress reports and maintaining daily
building construction and method vendor record keeping. A complete project
progress report is sent to your top management, architect, building construction
company, method vendor, and project files.
To keep your management on-the-job site status, prepare and distribute a weekly
building construction and method vendor installation progress report to your man-
agement team, architect, builder, and method vendor. To be an effective tool, your
report is simple, precise, and to the point. Your weekly project progress report
measures the building construction and method vendor performance against the
building construction and method vendor schedules and your master project schedule.
During an on-site project meeting with the architect, building contractor, and method
vendor, the report permits you to review the building construction and method vendor
equipment installation progress and identify, evaluate, and approve solutions to
improve an off-schedule project. It shows the building construction and method
vendor installation problems. Since these problems are known and are associated
with the building construction or method vendor installation, the report shows that
you have reviewed and resolved these problems with solutions developed at your
on-site project meetings. It also shows you that you are in control of the project and
handling the problem. Finally, the report shows your top management that you are
in control of the building construction and method vendor installation project.

Various Project Progress Reports

The three formats for your building construction and method installation project
progress report forms are a preprinted form, a letter, and a combined building design
and method layout plan view drawing.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 77

Preprinted Form Project Progress Report


The preprinted form is the first project progress report type. The preprinted form is
a specially prepared form for your building construction and method installation
project. With the preprinted form, you are required to fill in the date and, for the
building construction and method vendor, the percentage completed figures. This
preprinted form is easily understood by your management, architect, building con-
tractor, and method vendor. When you are required to go back and trace the weekly
project progress, it is easily obtained from your files. If the project is on schedule
with no problems, the preprinted form is a good project progress report.
Letter Project Progress Report
The letter project progress report is the second project progress report form. The
letter project progress report form is preferred when you desire to make more
building construction or method vendor installation qualitative statements, rather
than quantitative statements. The letter project progress report form can be attached
to the preprinted project progress report form or layout copy project progress report
form. If the project is off schedule with numerous delays or has changes of scope
or job extras, the letter form is the preferred report because you provide an expla-
nation for these situations.
Copy of the Building and Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock
Method or Equipment Layout Progress Report
A reduced building and method layout drawing copy is the third project progress
report form. To your interested parties, the building and method layout drawing copy
is an excellent means of communicating the building construction and method vendor
installation progress. As the building construction and method installation is com-
pleted on the site, it is identified on the plan view layout drawing copy. When your
top management or key vendor management personnel visit the site, this project
progress report format is quickly and easily understood.
The plan view layout drawing report is understood because it is a building and
method picture. There is sufficient space to write required explanatory notes; it shows
most building design and method key areas, and also highlights the flow to the
building construction or method installation from the receiving area through the
receiving, storage, order pick, sorting, and shipping areas.
A layout project progress form copy is attached to the preprinted project progress
report form or letter project progress report form. This feature allows the layout
progress report form to be used for an on-schedule or off-schedule project.

Keep Good Records

In addition to the weekly building construction and method installation project


progress report, it is extremely important to keep good, legible records or files of
all telephone conversations, meetings, and any daily observations and measurements.
To your architect, building contractor, and method vendor, all telephone conversa-
tions and meeting minutes are confirmed by letters, no matter how insignificant.
Copies are placed in your project file.
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78 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Your easiest method for record keeping is to record daily events in the chrono-
logical order by time of day. This daily report file is easy to reference and to confirm
telephone conversations, meetings, observations, and other issues.

Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method or Equipment and


Building Orientation Meetings

When your building construction and method installation is near completion, to


familiarize your companys operational and maintenance staff with the new building
and method, you schedule a building and method orientation program or meeting.
The more sophisticated, automated, or highly mechanized methods require a more
extensive or specific method orientation. With a less mechanized or manual order-
fulfillment method, a more general method orientation meeting is required.
To ensure proper method orientation, this meeting is required for your companys
key operational and maintenance people.
Your method orientation meeting format is as follows. Organize the attendees
by function and schedule dates and times; organize supplies, cartons, pallets, pieces,
or customer orders; explain general method and equipment features, what to do and
what not to do, safety aspects, and general capabilities; obtain audiovisual aids from
the vendors; simulate the method operation for all in attendance and repeat it; have
color-coded drawings and reduced building and method layout drawings; have the
methods functional area supervisors repeat the orientation; and invite participation
and comments from the attendees.
Your normal orientation meeting begins at the receiving function; for an across-
the-dock method it follows the piece or customer-order flow from the receiving
docks through the facility, over the method, and to the shipping docks. For an order-
fulfillment method it follows the piece flow from the receiving docks through the
facility storage/pick and pack area and ends at the shipping dock. Whenever possible
the method vendor contributes to the orientation meeting and training sessions.
Training commences on an unaccepted method provided that the method vendor
has granted approval. This training does not represent that your company has
accepted the method. Normal operation of the method with vendor-delivered pieces
or customer orders constitutes acceptance of the method.

Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Equipment or Method


Operational Test

After proper method vendor and building construction company notification that the
method and building are ready for operational testing, your method vendor and
building contractor are ready to provide the operational test assistance as outlined
in your companys written functional specifications and job contract.
Operational testing refers to the testing of your building equipment (systems)
and method equipment that move or handle your pieces or customer orders. The
method complexity and sophistication determine the time length for you and your
staff to conduct the operational tests. The operational test factors are as follows.
Since operational testing involves your piece or customer-order movement, the
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 79

operational test waits until all basic mechanical, electrical, pneumatic, and hydraulic
components are properly adjusted and the vendor has simulated a method check-
out without pieces or customer orders. If this is not done, piece, customer-order,
and method equipment damage can result, resulting in lost time to the start-up
schedule due to fixing the damaged equipment.
The primary responsibility to conduct the operational test lies with the method
vendor. However, placing and removing the pieces or customer orders on the method
at the end of the test belongs to your company.
Operational testing is a continuous process and continues for several days or
even weeks. It begins very slowly as far as the piece or customer-order volume
is handled on the method. For the first time, one or two pieces or customer orders
are routed over the method. If you encounter method problems, these problems
are noted and fixed by the method vendor. Next, 12 or more pieces or customer
orders are routed on the method, the flaws in the method are recorded, and the
vendor makes the proper method equipment adjustments. This test action contin-
ues until the method equipment components are properly adjusted for a smooth
flow for your pieces and customer orders. While conducting the operational test,
care is taken by you and the method vendor to simulate all different possible
conditions that could arise in a future normal operational situation. This approach
helps to make your method and building as foolproof and operationally safe as
possible.
As part of your operational test and training program and to improve your future
employee training, you videotape the training session and operational test. For new
employees, this videotape shows the proper use of the method equipment.

Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Equipment Acceptance Test

When the operational test is successfully completed by your vendor, the vendor
notifies you that the equipment is ready to perform the acceptance test. The accep-
tance test is defined in your written functional specifications and job contract. Prior
to the method acceptance test, you review the specifications and job contract, and
general observations are made to ensure that you are aware of the required func-
tionality.
Your equipment acceptance test is exactly what the words suggest. It is a test
that you conduct with the result that the system is accepted for your companys
operational department use, unless something goes wrong and further operational
testing is required by the vendor.
After the operational test period and with your approval, your vendor starts the
acceptance test. This acceptance test is conducted with the maintenance manger, key
operational people, and vendor personnel. If the acceptance test result is found
acceptable to your companys operational managers, the system is conditionally
accepted by your company. A punch list is developed as a result of this test. This
punch list identifies items that do not meet your written functional specifications,
do not affect the piece or customer-order flow, and are included in your companys
conditional system acceptance.
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80 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Equipment and Building


Punch List

Your next step in the method installation project is to develop a punch list for the
system installation and building construction. This punch list is an itemized list of
things that need corrective action by the system vendor or building contractor. A
punch list is divided into operational items that are mechanical or electrical items
or nonoperational items.
Your method operational items are those punch list items that require corrective
action for the method or building equipment proper function and operational
reliability.
Nonoperational method items are those punch list items that are minor main-
tenance problems and aesthetics problems. These items are purely subjective in
nature due to certain things that are desired by your operational or maintenance
personnel and these items are avoided on the punch list. You avoid these items
because they are usually turned down by a method vendor and building contractor.
For all moving method components, such as powered conveyor travel paths or
tilt tray powered chains, use a tachometer to measure the correct piece or customer-
order load-carrying surface travel speed. This procedure is used to verify that the
piece or customer-order load-carrying surface travel speeds are as specified in your
written functional specifications or job contract. When you check the nut and bolt
connection tightness, you use a wrench or torque wrench.
The other important method equipment and installation punch list test equipment
includes a measuring tape, a level, a plumb line, and a laser light. Each tool permits
you to verify that the method equipment installation or building construction is per
your companys plan-view and detail-view drawings, written functional specifica-
tions, and your job contract.
As you become aware of building construction or method equipment items that
are not per your written functional specifications and job contract, these items are
identified to the building contractor or method vendor. These punch list items are
identified with a number on your plan-view or detail-view drawings and are listed
with a number on a document. In addition to the drawings and list, you use the red-
tag (tape) approach. The red-tag approach has a number placed onto the drawing
and list, and the same number is written onto a red tag or tape piece. The red tag
(tape) is attached to the method or building equipment. When the method vendor
and building contractor are working on the punch list, the red-tag punch list items
are easily identified.

Include Your Operational and Maintenance Staff as Part of the Punch


List Team

It is recommended that your operational and maintenance staff contributes to the


building construction and method equipment punch list. Your staff consists of people
who operate and maintain the method and building equipment; it is very important
that they are members on the punch list team.
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After the building construction and method punch list preparation, at a meeting
with the method vendor and building contractor fix a completion date for accom-
plishing the corrective work. The punch list and mutually agreed upon completion
dates are distributed to the concerned parties, and a copy is placed in your project file.
Your method vendor and building contractor initial punch list acceptance allows
you to add more punch list items to the original punch list. During the next several
days or operational run times with your operations staff and handling actual pieces
or customer orders with a wide mix, these additional punch list items are noticed
by you or your staff. The punch list is kept current by continually adding these new
punch list items or deleting corrected times.

Operational and Maintenance Training Sessions

After the operational method and building equipment acceptance, you have your
companys operational and maintenance personnel training sessions. In the imple-
mentation phase, the building and method training sessions are the most important
aspects for a method or building equipment turnover. As everybody knows, the
method or building equipment cannot obtain the required results if it is not properly
operated and maintained by your companys operational and maintenance staff. You
insist upon the building contractor and method equipment vendor to train your
operational and maintenance personnel in the proper procedures and practices to
operate and maintain the equipment.
Initially, your operational and maintenance personnel are included in the same
training sessions. These combined meetings are primarily involved to get you and
your operational managers and maintenance personnel familiar with the building
and method layout. A description of operations and a tour through the facility allow
the personnel to get familiar with the location and mechanical and electrical controls.
During this phase, emphasis is placed on getting the operational personnel familiar
with the method equipment. The important method areas are piece, customer-order,
vehicle, or load-carrying surface travel paths; piece and customer-order flows; pieces
or customer orders that are handled by different methods; equipment limitations;
and proper piece or customer-order orientation onto the equipment or load-carrying
surface (important to reduce jams and piece or customer-order damage). Everyone
is made thoroughly familiar with the start/stop controls, E-stops, and other building
and method controls and panels locations.
After completing the method and building equipment operational training, some
method vendor and building contractor training time is devoted to make the main-
tenance personnel totally familiar with many equipment aspects. These building and
method equipment aspects are familiarity with the method and building equipment
and its components, adjustments and repairs, regular and preventive maintenance
requirements and procedures, troubleshooting procedures, and importance for main-
taining up to date spare parts inventory and using the correct lubricant or oil.
Per your written functional specifications and job contract, the maintenance
manuals furnished by the order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method or equipment
(method) and building equipment suppliers are used during this time.
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82 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Some Dos and Donts

To summarize your building construction and method installation project manage-


ment duties, here are some dos and donts.
Do keep a daily record for telephone conversations, meetings, and other obser-
vations. Do confirm all telephone conservations and meeting results in writing. Do
prepare periodical progress reports, videotapes, and take pictures with the date. Do
keep up-to-the-minute records for the building construction status and order method
equipment deliveries and installation status. Do check periodically and if possible
on a daily basis the labor quality and quantity that is employed by the building
contractor and method vendor and their subcontractors. Do bid and complete change
of scope and job extras to the contract with a formal written document. Do get
involved in the control panel, emergency push button and pull cord station, power
panel, and key method activity stations locations. Do maintain an up-to-date building
construction and order method cost projection and installation schedule. For the
building and order method equipment, do get warranties or guarantees, and with the
building construction and method vendor, do obtain partial and final waiver of liens
and release rights documents.
Do not deal directly with the building and method vendor subcontractors or their
personnel. Do not give solutions to any problems that are included on the punch
list. Do not use the building contractor or method vendor approval stamp to approve
drawings. Do not give verbal approval to changes of scope or job extras.

Your Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method or Building


Method Drawing (Blueprint) Is a Persons View

In the distribution industry, the terms blueprint and drawing are used interchangeably
by industry professionals. The drawing or blueprint is made from paper or a repro-
ducible material. When a drawing is used in the building construction or method
design and installation project, the object that is being described is a persons or
teams lined presentation or impression for a building or method layout.
A building or method drawings purposes are to show how the building and
method will look and operate.
Drawings are required from your design team, architect, and method vendor.
These drawings provide your companys design team, architect, building construc-
tion company, method vendor, and various other groups with an understanding and
interrelationship of your existing or proposed building and method equipment.
CAD personal computer programs create building design and method layouts,
and a diskette is used to transfer a building design or method drawing between two
offices.

Two- or Three-Dimensional View Drawings

A building or method drawing is presented on a two- or three-dimensional drawing.


In a building design and method industry, the two-dimensional drawing is the most
widely used drawing type. The two-dimensional drawing presents two of the three
following dimensions: length, width, and height.
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The three-dimensional drawing is a drawing that presents a building design or


method and three dimensions: length, width, and height.
The building construction and method drawings used in the distribution industry
are drawn by a technical or engineering person. Complicated facilities or high capital
methods are designed with standard methods or equipment. These building designs
and methods drawings are produced on a CAD machine.

Various Types of Drawing


The drawing types that are used to show a facility or method are plan-view, elevation
view, detail-view, isometric, sketch, layout board and standard templates, auto-
positive, reduced drawing, model, overlay, and CAD.
Plan View Drawing
The plan view drawing is the first drawing, a two-dimensional view drawing. The
plan view drawing shows a facility or method length and width. This drawing is to
scale and is illustrated on paper.
A facility or method plan view drawing allows you to trace the piece or customer-
order flow and piece or customer-order travel paths through a facility or over a
method; it permits you to identify key method activity work stations and determine
the size of the total facility and each method department or work station area. It
helps you identify method activity interaction locations and look for the offices and
other key method administrative and support areas.
Elevation View Drawing
An elevation view drawing is a two-dimensional drawing. This type of drawing
shows to scale one of the following two-dimensional views: height and width or
height and length. The drawing view details a facility or method and provides you
with a view to the clear distance (space) from the floor surface to the building
equipment, and to the building ceiling (steel) or mezzanine support members. When
a forklift truck with an overhead guard or elevated piece or customer-order transport
method travel paths are required in the distribution or facility, the elevation view
drawing provides you with a view to the clear operating distances between equipment
pieces or building obstacles. An elevation view drawing determines the relationship
between forklift truck overhead guard or method travel path with a piece or customer-
order on a load-carrying surface to a building obstacle or ceiling (steel). Some other
key clearance areas are forklift truck mast, overhead guard, or backrest elevation;
piece or customer-order height on overhead load-carrying surface; and piece, cus-
tomer-order, or vehicle travel path clearance through passageways.
Detail-View Drawing
The detail-view drawing is a to-scale drawing that shows one view: length and width,
length and height, or width and height.
The detail-view drawing is used to illustrate a specific location on equipment
with a building area method cross section. This drawing uses a large to-scale view
to show the exact and detailed dimensions (space) between different equipment,
equipment to a building wall, clearance from the floor surface to the ceiling (steel),
or from a building column to equipment.
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84 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Isometric Drawing
An isometric drawing is a three-dimensional view that is not to scale. This drawing
provides you with a deeper view to the relationship between the total facility and
method and includes the building fixed equipment and offices. These drawings are
considered an artists one color or multicolored rendering for a method or building.
These isometric drawings are seen on an office wall or in a distribution magazine.
Sketch
A sketch is a drawing or illustration that is a to-scale or not-to-scale drawing. The
sketch is a two- or three-dimensional view for equipment, work station, or method.
Sketches are used in at business meeting presentation, report, or a training session.
Auto-Positive
An auto-positive drawing is a drawing or layout board reproduction. The auto-
positive is reproduced onto photographic paper and allows additional copies to be
reproduced at a lower expense. To read the notes or legend on an auto-positive, the
reproduction is turned on the reverse or back side.
Standard Template and Layout Board
A standard template and layout board is a method that presents an initial layout for
a building or method. The layout board is sometimes referred to as a planning board
with standard templates that is a two-dimensional view approximately to scale.
Standard templates are black and white or colored line representations of a particular
order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method or equipment.
The layout board surface allows a person to arrange these templates to show a
method within a facilitys four walls. To complete a layout board, your method
design person moves (juggles) the templates on the planning board to show various
methods. These various methods are created in a short period of time with very little
drafting expense. On some occasions, due to the standard template flexibility, top
management actively participates in the development of alternative methods.
If mezzanines or additional floors are used in the building or method design, a
separate planning board or clear plastic sheet set on stands represents this elevated
building floor or method.
Overlay
An overlay is a method for clear reproduction of an additional floor to a facility or
method piece or customer-order transport path. When the overlay plastic sheet is
placed on top of another drawing, it provides you with a two-dimensional view of
both floor areas. This view allows you to trace the pieces or customer-order travel
paths and pieces or customer-order flow between floors. Most photocopy machines
distort an original drawings dimensions; the overlay drawing approach provides
you with an approximate to-scale view.
CAD Drawings
A CAD drawing is drawn as a one-, two-, or three-dimensional facility or method
view. The computer provides you with drawings that are to any scale. These drawings
are plan views, elevation views, detailed views, and a view of a facility or method
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 85

bottom. These drawings are drawn with colored lines for specific method piece or
customer-order travel paths. A floppy diskette provides you with a very flexible and
simple method to transport a facility or method layout drawing between two offices.
To-Scale and Not-to-Scale Drawings
All drawings are to-scale or not-to-scale line representations for a building or
method. A drawing that is not to scale means that the lines for a facility walls,
columns, and method are not scaled to a specific measurement. A drawing that is
to scale means that each line portion on a drawing is equal to a standard U.S. or
metric measurement. The measurement is noted in the drawing title block.
Small-Scale or Large-Scale Drawing
If a small scale is used on a building or method drawing, the drawing provides a
large building or method view. This large view allows you to see the entire method
and to obtain a comprehensive understanding for the piece or customer-order flow
and piece or customer-order transport paths. Most plan view drawings are small-
scale drawings.
If a large scale is used on a drawing, it shows a detail or specific section, a cross
section, or an area on a building or method equipment. The large view provides you
with an understanding for clearances and dimensions that are required for a method
equipment or workstation to function. Most detailed view and elevation view draw-
ings are large-scale drawings.
Types of Scale Tools
The scale tools that are used on a building or method drawing include the triangle
scale. The triangle scale has three sides and each side represents two scales, which
means that a triangle scale has six different scales. The other type is the flat scale.
The flat scale has one or two sides, which means that a one-sided flat scale two
scales and a two-sided scale has four scales.
The architect scale is used on method plan view drawings. The scales are 10 =
1 foot, 20 = 1 foot, 30 = 1 foot, 40 = 1 foot, 50 = 1 foot, and 60 = 1 foot. The
second type is the engineers scale. Building drawings are drawn with an engineers
scale. The scales are 1/8 inch = 1 foot, 1/4 inch = 1 foot, 1/2 inch = 1 foot, 1/32 inch
= 1 foot, 3/16 inch = 1 foot, 1/16 inch = 1 foot, 3/8 inch = 1 foot, 3/4 inch = 1 foot, 1
1/2 inches = 1 foot, and 3 inches = 1 foot.

How to Use a Scale Tool on a Drawing


On a drawing, you use a scale tool to verify that the dimension between two building
columns or between two lines is as written on the drawing surface; the method
equipment length, width, and height and the facility layout are as described on the
drawing layout; and the all the equipment fits within the building physical area. This
physical area is shown on the drawing.
To use a scale tool on a drawing, the steps are to read the scale tool that is listed
in the drawing title block, obtain the appropriate scale, and place the scale tool in
your desired position on the drawing surface. This position has the scale zero located
on drawing point A and has a scale line intersect (cross) the desired line or point B
on a drawing. The next step is to count the scale line number between these two
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86 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

intersection points. The scale lines represent the number of feet between these two
specific lines on the drawing. Portions of a foot are represented on the scale between
the scale zero and the solid line on the scale.
Other drawing guidelines are that a drawing with a metric measurement is scaled
with a metric scale and that a drawing with a standard U.S. measurement is scaled
with a U.S. scale.

Various Drawing Materials


Your facility and method layout and detail drawing surfaces are paper, Mylar, or
paper sepia. These drawings are used to show a facility or method layout or detail
view. The method and facility layout drawings are key components in a project
design review process and in verifying the building construction and method
installation.
Paper Drawing Material. The most common drawing material is paper. When a
blueprint machine copies a drawing, the paper is an off-white color and all lines are
blue. When a CAD computer and colored printer produces a drawing, it is drawn
on standard white paper, and the building and method travel paths are available in
different colors.
The paper drawing has the lowest reproduction cost. The standard paper drawing
has a printer or employee color lines to identify specific areas, piece or customer-
order travel paths, work stations, or equipment. With a paper drawing, an office
copying machine makes copies, but it is noted that a copy machine does distort the
scale and line straightness on a photocopy.

Sepia Drawing Material. The second type of drawing material is an original


drawing or drawing reproduction. The paper sepia allows you to make sepia repro-
ductions that permit one to mark or write notes on the surface. After you complete
the checking process, these notes are automatically a part of the drawing, and marked
paper notes are a reproduced paper drawing part.

Mylar Drawing Material. The third drawing type is the Mylar material that
allows a drawing to be reproduced from the Mylar drawing. The Mylar cost is
more expensive than the paper sepia cost. The advantages of Mylar are that it
allows an employee to make notes or marks onto its surface, that all notes or marks
automatically appear on all reproductions, that the method permits the greater
number of reproduced drawings, and that it maintains its quality for a longer period
of time.

Various Drawing Components


A facility or method layout or detail-view drawing components are the title block,
north directional arrow, note section, match line, symbol legend, and revision section.

Title Block. The first drawing component is the title block that is located on the
drawing lower right-hand corner or along the right-hand side. The information that
is contained in the title block includes your companys name and address; the
architect, engineer, or method vendor that produced the drawing; the date that the
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 87

drawing was produced; the artist or CAD operator who produced the drawing; the
drawing scale; and the drawing number or drawing revision number. When making
a drawing list or transmittal, these drawing numbers or drawing revision numbers
appear on the list or transmittal. Also included is a brief drawing method descrip-
tion. This description appears on the drawing list or transmittal. Lastly, there is a
revision list that briefly describes each revision that was made to the drawing and
the revision date.

North Directional Arrow. Another drawing item is the north directional arrow,
which is basically a large arrow with a capital N at its base. The arrow indicates the
site compass north direction and orients the building on the site. The north direction
is important in locating your receiving and shipping docks.

Note Section. The third important drawing item is the note section, a written fact
list that relates to the facility or your method.

Match Line. The fourth drawing item is the match line. When a facility or method
layout view uses several drawing sheets, the match line sequences these drawings.
If you cut along each drawing match line and tape two drawings corresponding
match lines together, the one large or newly taped drawing has one facility or method
complete view.

Symbol Legend. The fifth important drawing item is the symbol legend. The sym-
bol legend is a section on the drawing that includes all symbols and each symbol
definition that is used on the drawing surface. These symbols allow the design person
to develop a comprehensive drawing with as little writing as possible in the drawing
body. During a drawing review process you refer to the symbols to obtain a clear
understanding for drawing method or building equipment.

Revision Section. The sixth important drawing item is the drawing revision sec-
tion. After a drawing review meeting or after any change is made to a drawing lines,
notes, or items, the revision section tells the revision story. The drawing revision
section describes the change and the change date and identifies who made the
change. These drawing revision notes become a drawing part and serve as a quick
reference. This ensures you that you are referring to the latest or most recent building
or method drawing.

How to Review a Drawing


When you are designing a new facility or method, an important drawing and project
activity is the building construction and method drawing review process. During the
drawing review process, you use a red pen or pencil to mark the dimensions or notes
that you want shown on the drawing or to make corrections. During a drawing review
process on a plan view drawing, you look for the facility and method width and
length. On a detail- or elevation-view drawing, you look for the equipment width,
length, and height; clearances for piece and customer-order flows and travel paths;
passageways and emergency exits; employee travel paths to work stations; and work
station size and locations.
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88 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Metric Measurements
Increasingly more U.S. order-fulfillment or across-the-dock managers are presented
method drawings that are in metric measurements, or purchase method equipment
with metric parts. This requires you to understand metric measurements. To have a
metric measurement and U.S. measurement understanding, the conversion between
the two most frequent used measurements are as follows: 1 inch = 2.5 centimeters,
1 foot = 30 centimeters, 1 millimeter = 0.04 inch, 1 centimeter = 0.4 inch, 1 meter
= 3.3 feet, and 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds.

Military Time

Military time is a relatively simple time system that has each day start at 0000 and
end at 2400. For military time before noon the military time corresponds to the
regular clock time. To calculate military time after noon, you add 1200 to the clock
time (e.g., 1:00 is 1300 and 4:00 is 1600).
The advantages to using military time are that there is no confusion as to the
hour of day or evening, such as 11:30 in the morning or 11:30 in the evening, because
11:30 in the evening is 2330 hours; and the method requires four digits (2200)
instead of a six number and alphabetic character combination (10:00 p.m.).

Julian Dates

Julian dates are derived from the Julian calendar, which is based on an arithmetic
progression from a years first day being with the number 1 to a years last day
being with the number 365.
The advantages to using Julian dates are that when discrete numbers are required
for a date, the Julian date requires five to six digits (e.g., 365/97) instead of the
standard six to eight digits (e.g., 12/31/97); and the date is understood by a manager
from a foreign country.
The military time and Julian date disadvantage is that your operations employees
do not use these notations in their daily lives. This feature requires employee training
and some difficulty to make the conversion.

Charts Are Important Tools for Building Construction and Order-


Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Method Installation Schedules

A complex project involves controlling building construction, using order-fulfillment


or across-the-dock equipment or method installation, and managing a dynamic piece
or customer-order operation. The charts objectives are to improve your worker
productivity, properly schedule labor and equipment, and control the building con-
struction or method installation activities. To understand, schedule, and track a
building construction, method installation, or piece or customer-order operation, you
use a chart. The charts are bar or Gannt chart, flowchart, and program evaluation
and review technique (PERT) chart.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 89

Bar Chart or Gannt Chart


The bar or Gannt chart is the basic tool to project and track (schedule) the activities
and activity dates that are required to complete work or a project. The bar chart
is used to show a building construction project, method installation project, or
piece or customer-order activity. The bar chart has columns and lines on a sheet
or paper. At the top of the bar chart is the project name and other important project
information.
To use a bar chart, you write the projects initial task in the first column and
each progressive task is listed in the appropriate space in the task column. Across
the charts top is a list for the time factor (hours, days, or weeks) that are required
to complete the entire project. For each activity under the task column, a line is
drawn from each task start time to its completion time. These lines are drawn for
each task, resulting in bars (lines) that show the interrelationships between the
various tasks. The time factor on the chart top shows each task duration and the
duration for the entire project.
The disadvantage of the bar chart is that it does not show the dynamic interre-
lationship between two project tasks. The advantages are that it is easy to understand
and develop.

Flow Chart
The flowchart is a pictorial display that traces piece or customer-order or information
flows through your facility or operation. On the flowchart each event (activity) flow
path has a written description on the chart. The flowchart starts as the piece or
customer order or information enters the facility; each progressive workstation (event
or activity) is noted and described until the piece or customer-order or information
flow exits the facility. Lines and arrows between the various activities and events
show the piece or customer-order or information flow direction. The flowcharts
features are that it is difficult to identify the exact start and completion dates, there
are written statements for each event, and that it shows all required activities in
proper sequence to complete the project.

PERT Chart
The PERT chart is a planning and control technique that utilizes a network for
scheduling a projects events (activities) in the proper sequence or in a logical order
to accomplish a predetermined project. The PERT chart shows the interrelationship
between two project events from which a critical path is developed for the project.
The critical path is the path between the first activity date and the last activity date
to complete the project. The PERT chart allows your project manager to make a
decision on minor events and to show how these minor modifications affect the next
event or the overall project.
The disadvantages of the PERT chart are that the chart is difficult to understand
and requires several pages. The advantages are that it shows the interrelationship
between minor and major project events, shows the start and completion dates for
the project, and identifies the critical path to complete the project.
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90 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

WHEN AND HOW TO SELECT AND USE


A CONSULTANT
It is a fact that your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock business cycle will expe-
rience peak and low-volume periods. These periods have different volume charac-
teristics and are beyond your management team control. During these periods, your
method manager and staff are expected to satisfy your companys operational objec-
tives, which are to achieve the lowest operating cost and satisfy your work station
or customer demands with on-time, accurate, and undamaged deliveries.
To satisfy your method objectives, you arrange and organize your companys
scarce method resources, which are building and land; method equipment; labor,
which includes your employees and management staff; your companys policies and
procedures; and internal and external consultants.

WHERE DO YOU FIND ASSISTANCE FOR YOUR OPERATION?


To assist you with your companys operational projects, many managers obtain
advice and direction from internal experts, external consultants, or vendors.

PROVIDING ACCURATE AND ON-TIME OPERATIONAL


DESIGN INFORMATION
When you are involved in an operational project, you provide accurate and on-time
operational design information. The value to provide your operational consultant
with accurate, on-time, and completed questionnaires (information) means that your
consultant has the correct information to complete your operational project. This
means that your project is completed on schedule and on budget.
Due to inaccurate client-supplied operational information or piece or customer-
order movement data, it has been the authors experience to see wasted days of
consulting services (fees and hours) on a project. At the rate of approximately $1,000
per day, these services represent an expense to your company with no return. When
this situation occurs in the life of a project, it involves an extra charge to the client
company from the external consultant. The extra charge is required by the external
consultant to complete the project on schedule.

INTERNAL (IN-HOUSE) EXPERT


The internal expert or internal (in-house) operational consultant is your company
employee who is the design, planning, and implementation resource for a new or
remodeled method. This expert has years of company experience and direct access
to past operational projects and studies. His or her knowledge of your companys
operational support activities and functional details and familiarity with your
companys managers and employees personalities and characters are important
contributions to a successful project. This information includes how your com-
panys personnel have handled the past implementation of a new method, proce-
dures, changes to the piece or customer-order flows, or a new facility layout.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 91

These insights and knowledge reduce new or remodel method implementation


and start-up problems.
The internal expert benefits are lower annual operating costs and availability for
other company projects. The company internal expert remains with the company
and method long after the external expert and method vendor leave the project.

EXTERNAL OR OUTSIDE CONSULTANT


Your second order-fulfillment or across-the-dock project design, planning, and
implementation professional resource is the external or outside consultant. Your
external consultant is a professional individual or group under contract with your
company to assist your existing management team in an operational project. For
your operational dock project, this group is the design, planning, implementation,
and start-up resource for your companys operational manager. The external con-
sultant group brings into the project an understanding for the equipment types,
methods and systems, procedures, piece or customer-order flow patterns, and method
vendors. These external experts can be used in a new or remodel method project.
Their knowledge of the methods and method vendors capabilities along with their
past project experience are vital contributions of objectivity to your method project.
There are several reasons to use an external expert: your existing staff does not
have knowledge of the latest technology or the skills; your present staff is qualified
to handle the project but your staff work load is too heavy; your companys top
management desires an outside and unbiased opinion; your operation is experiencing
a rapid increase in costs; you desire a concentrated effort within the scope and
definition; your company is experiencing an unexpected decline in sales, an unex-
pected sales increase, or sales that exceed the planned growth; there is a lengthy
decision making time requirement due to cumbersome committee organization; and
headquarters of a large company desires to control the project.

ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-DOCK EQUIPMENT VENDORS


Your third order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method design, planning, and imple-
mentation professional resource group is method vendors. By soliciting their par-
ticipation in your companys project, you gain an understanding of their equipment
and knowledge of their companies latest technologies.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNALS THAT YOUR OPERATION


REQUIRES A CONSULTANT?
One key question that confronts you and your company is this: When does your
order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation require the services of an external
order operations consultant? Stated another way, what are the operational signs that
signal you that your operation requires an operations consultant? These signals are
rapid increase in operational overtime or wages, increase in errors and off-schedule
deliveries, increase in employee injuries, increase in building and operational equip-
ment damage, increase in product damage expense, increase or decrease in business
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92 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

or volume beyond the company expectations, increase in crowded aisles with prod-
uct, and poor housekeeping and poor sanitation ratings.

WHAT ARE THE ACTIVITIES THAT REQUIRE AN


EXTERNAL CONSULTANT?
After you have determined that your operation or a specific operational activity
requires an external consultant, your next step is to determine the consultants scope
of work. In the scope of work for your consultants operational project, you state
the expected results. The scope of work identifies and states the depth for the
operational activities that are involved in your companys consultant project. These
operational activities are using information and piece or customer-order flows and
downloads to the pick area microcomputer; preparing and using for the piece or
customer-order identification; piece or customer-order loading and unloading
between a conveyor or truck and work station; storage position, pick position, vehicle
or load-carrying surface identification; order picker routing, conveyor or vehicle
travel path; profiling the pick line or pick aisle, dispatching the order picker or
vehicle; using a manual, mechanized, or automated operation activity; and perform-
ing maintenance, sanitation, and security.

WHAT SHOULD YOUR CONSULTANT EXAMINE?


Your companys expected results are general guidelines that state how the operation
is designed for your companys anticipated business growth. When your company
has an operations consultant look at your operation, he or she looks at each activity
in a macro- or micro-perspective. During the company project, for each method
activity your consultant looks to eliminate the activity, combine the activity with
another activity, simplify the activity, and change the activity sequence or piece or
customer-order flows.

WHO FROM YOUR COMPANY SHOULD WORK ON


YOUR PROJECT?
When you have an external consultant remodel an old or design a new method, your
company forms a project team to control the project. Your companys project team
consists of members from distribution operations; traffic operations; engineering;
maintenance; purchasing; piece or customer-order storage, pick, and transportation
departments; delivery vehicle or trucking; personnel; and data processing.

ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-DOCK PROJECT


TEAM ORGANIZATION
After the executive management group creates a project management team, the
project team is assigned the responsibility to complete the project. With an approved
capital expenditure for the project, your method project team is given the power to
purchase and implement the project; execute contracts; and make payments to the
architect, construction company, and the method vendors and consultants.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 93

The order-fulfillment or across-the-dock project management team levels are


executive project team, venture manager, project manager, specialists, external con-
sultant, and method vendors.

Executive Management Team

The first project management level is the executive management team level that has
the senior executives from your companys key departments that are affected by the
method. This management level is the top project organization level and consists of
the project sponsors who define the scope of work for the project.

Venture Manager

The second project management level is the venture manager who is a senior manager.
This position has the project responsibilities to report to the executive management
team, complete the project on budget and on schedule, provide the project visibility,
determine responsibilities, establish priorities, and oversee the project.

Project Manager
The next management level is the project manager. This person has the definitive
responsibilities of reporting to the venture manager; designing the method; devel-
oping method written functional specifications and reviewing the plan-view and
detail-view drawings; selecting the method vendor and scheduling the method instal-
lation; carrying out the method implementation and integration; overseeing the
method start-up; reviewing the method performance; and ensuring payments are
made to the architect, building construction company, and method vendor.

Project Specialists

The specialists on a project team are managers and employees from your companys
departments that are involved or affected by the method project. These managers
and employees are specialists who know the department activities, piece or customer-
order flow, and piece or customer-order information flow, along with past method
installation project experience.

Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Consultants and Vendors

The method consultants and equipment vendors are the noncompany representatives
on the project team who contribute equipment knowledge, project installation, and
start-up experience.

WHERE DO YOU FIND CONSULTANTS?


When you have sufficient justification to use an external method consultant, where
do you obtain sources that provide your manager with a consultant list? These
sources are past projects from your company files, magazines and directories, logis-
tics organizations, and other industry professionals.
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94 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

INSIGHTS FOR YOUR CONSULTANT SELECTION PROCESS


From your operational consultant list, you perform an external consultant selection
process. There are steps and insights to ensure the best selection of an external
consultant for your method. First, define clearly, in writing, the project scope,
objectives, and schedule that includes start and completion date, on-site data collec-
tion visits, data and statistical review meetings, method review meetings, drawing
review meetings, preliminary report review meeting, and final report presentation.
Next, define and limit the project scope to ensure a concentration of work by the
consultant so that his or her activities accomplish the objectives. This project defi-
nition reduces the possibilities for insignificant objectives involved in the project.
Next, ensure that the prospective consulting firms have a clear project scope under-
standing and objective along with a detailed plan to accomplish the objective. Next,
require the prospective consulting firms to submit a written proposal that outlines
their steps to complete the objective, schedule, and fee structure; this includes fixed
fee, not-to-exceed, minimum or maximum range, man-hour and material fee, and
various activities. Next, contact the prospective consultant reference client list with
a concentration in the same industry or that have a similar project objective. Next,
require a rsum for the consultant personnel assigned to your project. This includes
the names, education, experience with the consultant, other companies, published
articles, speaker participation in seminars and conferences, and membership in order
logistics associations. The consultant identifies the person who is the project manager
in control for the project and the project manager who is your project contact person.
Next, complete a prospective consultant firm evaluation to determine the consultants
project understanding and requirements. Lastly, with the short list for prospective
consultant firms, visit their offices and meet their team members.

PROJECTS THAT INVOLVE CONSULTANTS


Many companies have used external consultants for method modeling and simula-
tion; selection of a manual, mechanized, or automated operation method, method
layout, and design; materials requirement planning (MRP); method drawings and
written functional specifications; performance measurement reports; method plan-
ning and scheduling systems; space forecast studies; distribution requirements plan-
ning (DRP); labor and management training; order picker routing and scheduling;
CAD; piece, customer-order, and vehicle automatic identification; and safety, secu-
rity, and maintenance.

WHAT INFORMATION DOES YOUR CONSULTANT REQUIRE FOR


YOUR PROJECT?
When an external consultant is involved in a project, the companys operational and
financial information is piece or customer-order characteristics. These characteristics
include length, width, height, weight, and bottom surface; average and peak sales
in pieces or customer orders handled; average and peak delivery in pieces or customer
orders handled; average pieces per customer-order; number of work days per year
and hours per work day; and all method plan-, detail-, and elevation-view drawings,
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 95

equipment manuals, piece or customer-order and information flow charts, and past
reports. The response to the consultants questions allows the consultant to evaluate
your current operation to develop conclusions and to make recommendations. The
recommendations are the basis for the future method.

WHY IS HIGH EMPLOYEE


PRODUCTIVITY IMPORTANT?
Employee productivity is a major order-fulfillment or across-the-dock management
staff concern, and is a factor that improves any single item, flat wear, GOH, carton,
or pallet operations efficiency. Employee productivity is the employees ability
with an operational method to move pieces or customer orders between two locations
at your budgeted operating cost and improve your on-schedule and accurate cus-
tomer service.
If your operational management staff is to have an efficient and productive
operation, the management staff is required to have proper material handling equip-
ment; proper operational piece or customer-order travel path layout; simple and clear
operational instructions; motivated employees; scheduled activities that include ven-
dor deliveries, labor, and equipment; smoothing of the peaks and valleys of the daily
piece and customer-order volume and the piece or customer-order flow through the
facility; and a realistic operational budget and objectives.
You must realize that employee productivity improvement is one means to offset
other operational cost increases in salaries, wages, and operational controllable and
non-controllable expenses.
An improvement in operational employee productivity is a very complex prob-
lem due to the nature of the business. The order-fulfillment or across-the-dock
business has a fixed activity schedule for customer or workstation piece or customer-
order deliveries that requires the correct piece or customer-order delivery quantity,
a wide piece or customer-order mix and characteristics, and a varying piece and
customer-order volume. These facts are true whether your business is a small,
medium, or large company that handles single items, flat wear, GOH, cartons, or
pallets. They also hold true whether your operation provides service to E-commerce,
direct marketing, or catalog customers; industrial customers; manufacturing work-
stations; or to a pick line or storage area.

WHAT IS EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY?


Employee productivity is defined as the output (tons, piece quantity) that is handled
or moved by your operational employees total number of work hours or cost. To
obtain your operation employees productivity, your total pieces or customer orders
divided by the total work hours or cost.

WHAT ARE THE BUSINESS FACTORS THAT AFFECT YOUR PRODUCTIVITY?


The order-fulfillment or across-the-dock business factors that affect your employee
productivity are piece or customer-order mix and volume, pick positions or delivery
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96 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

locations that are located over a large area, piece or customer-order size variations,
required time to complete a customer-order or workstation order and delivery cycle;
and travel over a fixed travel path to complete the piece or customer-order delivery.

AREAS FOR EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENT


To improve your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock employee productivity, the
opportunities for employee productivity improvements are changing work methods
or employee work arrangements, improving ways to perform the work, moving your
piece or customer-order quantity with the fewest handlings and handling the largest
volume per trip, scheduling and utilizing the equipment and labor at the maximum
rate, improving physical surroundings and piece or customer-order travel paths,
giving employee and management incentives, encouraging pride in work, and chang-
ing from a human-paced method to a mechanized or automated method.

Change Your Employee Work Method

You improve your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock employee productivity by


improving your employee work methods or their work arrangement. In conjunction
with this approach, you look to implement a new sequence for the piece or customer-
order travel path and load pickups and deliveries to reduce empty load-carrying
surfaces or vehicles or employee dispatch frequency; prior to work stations, you
provide sufficient queue area such as queue conveyor or P/D stations; you apply the
ABC theory of SKU movement to storage area positions and pick positions; you use
kit or family group SKU allocation to storage and pick area; and you complete the
customer-order and delivery cycle with the fewest piece or customer-order handlings.

Change Your Employee Procedures

Your second area for employee productivity improvement is your employee work
procedures or how employees perform their work. Options are to cube the pick
activity; prior to each workstation on the pick line or in a storage aisle, to provide
sufficient piece or customer-order queue area or P/D stations; use sequenced piece
or customer-order pickups and deliveries; use human- and machine-readable SKU-
discrete identification piece, customer-order, and vehicle identification; have the
fewest piece or customer-order handlings; use clear and simple employee instruc-
tions; and increase dual cycles between two workstations.

Add Equipment to Your Employee Work

In your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation, the most dramatic employee


efficiency improvements are realized from equipment or a mechanized method to
handle the maximum piece or customer-order quantity per trip with the fewest
handlings. Many order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method applications are man-
ually operated pick carts or pallet trucks; internal combustion or electric battery
powered forklift trucks, pallet trucks, or AGVs; gravity or electric-powered convey-
ors; guided powered order pick vehicles; a computer to schedule labor, equipment,
and piece or customer-order deliveries; mechanized or automated piece or customer-
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 97

order pick or transportation methods; bar code scanners and human- and machine-
readable codes; separating and identifying the pieces at the vendor facility or at your
receiving dock; separating or pallet-loading the largest pieces and securing the
pieces; and providing sufficient piece or customer-order queuing prior to each storage
area or pick line activity.

Enhance the Use of Your Employees and Equipment

Another method for you to improve order-fulfillment or across-the-dock employee


productivity is to enhance your employees available work hours or equipment
scheduling and vehicle utilization. Some techniques do not require investment and
others require an investment. Examples include using part-time employees; purchas-
ing or leasing in a way that is flexible, is used in several other operational areas, or
is able to perform a specific task with an attachment; smoothing out the workweek
peaks and valleys to improve equipment and labor utilization; ensuring controllable
piece or customer-order queues prior to each work station; and ensuring that there
is sufficient direct or indirect work for your full-time employee workday.

Improve Your Work Area

The next opportunity for you to improve your employee productivity is to improve
the design, appearance, and physical surroundings of your employee work area.
These opportunities are keeping the facility aisles and piece or customer-order travel
paths clear; improving your housekeeping by sealing floors, painting the equipment,
and painting the facility interior walls; painting the facility ceiling and walls with a
light color; providing adequate lighting in the pick aisles or on the pick lines;
eliminating damaged or salvaged pieces and obsolete equipment from the facility;
providing adequate storage and pick aisle widths and recommended equipment
clearances; painting lines in the queue areas, mobile equipment travel paths, and
personnel travel paths on the floor surface; providing good order pick or vehicle
routing and sufficient aisles; eliminating bottlenecks and jams; providing good and
clear piece or customer-order and vehicle dispatch and order pick instructions; and
eliminating work steps from the piece or customer-order flow or travel path.

Implement a Work Incentive Program

You increase productivity by initiating a work incentive program that offers your
employees additional money or something of value for extra effort or achievement.
In some companies, an incentive program has increased employee productivity by
10 to 15%.
A good employee incentive program is well researched and outlined, and is
measurable, achievable, understandable, clear, fair, and administered equitably. If
an employees work changes, the work for an employee incentive program changes.

Improve the Results of Your Employee Productivity

To ensure that your budgeted employee productivity is achieved from new equipment
implementation or from an enhancement to an existing method, it is your responsi-
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98 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

bility to ensure that your employees are using the specified and proper activity
methods to perform their work. You must also make sure that you have adequate
management staff and employee training, you have written rules and procedures,
you provide signs and pictures in the work area, and you review your employee
work activity.

Increase Your Employee Pride

Your next method to improve productivity is to encourage employees to take pride


in their work and in their workplace. Some companies have improved employee
productivity by participating in a delivery truck or forklift truck rodeo; having a
company sign at the entrance to the facility; recognizing accurate, high productivity,
and on-schedule work; providing uniforms; giving awards for puncutality and atten-
dance; offering family outings; encouraging team participation; knowing your
employees name, birthday, and family history; and providing a clean and properly
lighted work area and a clean and safe equipment.

Change Your Employee Work from a Human-Paced to a


Machine-Paced System
Your final technique to obtain an improvement in your employees productivity is
to change their work from a human-paced system to a machine-paced system. Again,
you need to identify activities that have the largest employee number; the highest
overtime; largest piece, customer-order, building, or equipment damage; highest
employee injuries; highest off-scheduled activities; and highest errors.
To improve your employee activities, you can use a gravity or powered queue
conveyor or AGVs to move pieces or customer orders between two work stations;
mechanize or automate your piece or customer-order delivery or pickup; attach a
bar code or RF tag to your piece, customer-order, or vehicle and use bar code
scanners or RF tag readers; automate picking, labeling, weighing, and sorting activ-
ities; and add guided aisles for storage, transport, and pick vehicle travel.

GUIDELINES FOR A SUCCESSFUL EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY PROGRAM


To implement an employee productivity program to improve your employee pro-
ductivity, the guidelines are to categorize all the employee jobs or tasks in your
operation; identify the activities, functions, or jobs that have incurred the highest
overtime, the greatest piece, customer-order, or equipment and building damage,
and highest errors and off-schedule deliveries or the highest employee injuries; total
employee wage and benefit costs that are associated with each activity; and select
a measure unit for each employee activity. This figure is the productivity measure-
ment for present and proposed activities. After a new methods implementation,
compare your actual employee productivity figures to your budgeted employee
productivity figures.
If you use an industry average or another companys employee productivity
figures, understand the other companys operational policies, procedures, operations,
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 99

business, piece or customer-order characteristics, and employee productivity figure


calculations.

Identify Your Labor Activity That Has the Highest Numbers

You identify an employee operational activity that has the highest employee number
or the highest associated operating expense. An improvement in your employee
productivity for one of these activities has the greatest impact on your companys
operational expenses and service to your customers.

Measure Your Employee Productivity

A good operational employee productivity programs characteristics are that it is


based on a unit of measure, understandable, cost effective, and timely.
Unit of Measure
A good order-fulfillment or across-the-dock employee productivity program char-
acteristic is that the program is based on a measure unit. The best unit of measure
in the order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation is the piece or customer-order
that is handled by your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method. The unit of
measure is a single item, flat wear, GOH, carton, pallet, or customer-order. If your
operation handles pieces or customer orders, the measurement approaches are as
follows. For an order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation that has no piece or
customer-order mix change, the measurement is to use the piece or customer-order
that is handled by the activity. For a wide piece or customer-order mix, this mea-
surement uses an average conversion factor that it is easy to relate to the various
pieces or customer orders.
The piece and customer-order unit of measure that is used in an order-fulfillment
or across-the-dock operation includes tons or weight; accident-free days; expenses
as a percentage of sales; overages, shortages, and damaged pieces; errors; returns;
off-schedule customer-order deliveries; sanitation ratings; and machine downtime
(number of vehicles or machines in maintenance).
When tons or expenses as a percentage of sales are used as the unit of measure,
your daily employee productivity varies due to the piece weight or dollar value. The
piece or customer-order volume variation occurs by the workday, month, or season
of the year and market conditions.
Alternative Techniques to Measure Your Operation
Order-fulfillment or across-the-dock activities move your pieces or customer orders
from your receiving dock area, through your storage areas, through your value-added
or pick operation, and to your shipping dock. Within each work area, your piece or
customer-order is transformed or picked from large piece quantities (pallets or master
cartons) as individual pallets, master cartons, or loose single items per your customer-
order and assembled for shipment to satisfy your customer orders.
To receive pieces and ship customer orders, an order-fulfillment or across-the-
dock methods resources are labor, mechanical equipment, and building area,
which is the piece, customer-order, employee, or vehicle travel path. All these
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100 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

resources have a cost associated with their use in the piece and customer-order
movement. It is this total cost for the piece and customer-order movement and a
detailed look at these components that economically justifies your improvements
to your existing or your proposed order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method.
This cost justification approach offers you an opportunity for your present or
proposed method to reduce operating costs by improving labor productivity; add-
ing mechanical equipment to handle a greater piece number or a larger customer-
order volume; reducing the piece, customer-order, or vehicle travel path length or
width, which is building space; reducing piece or customer-order, equipment, or
building damage and reducing personnel injuries; and ensuring on-time and accu-
rate piece or customer-order deliveries.
To implement a change to improve your operation, your manager is aware of
how well your operation measures up to your companys expectations. If you realize
that there is an opportunity to improve your companys operation, how do you project
the future employee productivity?

Order-Fulfillment or Across-the-Dock Operation Measurements


An order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method has cost components that move your
pieces and customer orders. To measure your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock
method performance, it is based on costs for piece or customer-order volumes.
Some distribution professionals have the opinion that cost for the pieces or
customer orders handled do not provide the total picture for an order-fulfillment or
across-the-dock operation. They feel that seven ratios provide a more practical
approach to measure your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation. The seven
ratios provide deeper insights and understanding to an operations component costs
because these ratios are an online review of the operation.
The order-fulfillment or across-the-dock measurement techniques are dollar cost,
operational expenses as a percentage of sales, weight handled per employee hour,
pieces or customer orders handled per employee hour, labor ratio, direct labor
handling loss ratio, piece or customer-order movement and operation ratio, customer-
order cycle efficiency ratio, space utilization efficiency, equipment utilization and
ratio, and aisle space potential ratio.

Dollar Cost Measurement. The dollar cost measurement is the first method man-
agement measurement technique. This cost measurement technique is used because
the cost factors are common to all order-fulfillment or across-the-dock methods, cost
factors have an impact on your companys financial statements and ratios; operating
costs have a relationship to the management bonus program in most companies, cost
is a key economic justification factor for a new method; and these costs are directly
related to the operations annual budget in most companies.
To calculate the dollar cost or operating expense measurement for your operation,
your financial department provides the actual expenses or budget dollars.
The disadvantages of this technique are that accounting dollar figures show the
methods past performance, there is inconsistency between two accounting periods
and what is considered a cost factor, and some costs are considered noncontrollable
operational factors.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 101

The advantages are that the method is easy to calculate, is tied to many important
management activities, is used in many companies, and is tracked and compared to
the historical company data.
Cost per Piece or Customer-Order Handled Measurement. The cost per piece
or customer-order handled measurement is the second order-fulfillment or across-
the-dock method measurement. The cost per piece or customer-order measurement
formula components are the total method costs and the total pieces and customer
orders that were moved by your method.
To calculate the cost piece or customer-order measurement, the total method
costs are divided by the total pieces or customer orders that were handled by your
operation.
The disadvantages and advantages are similar to the dollar measurement tech-
nique, except that the cost per piece or customer-order handled measurement varies
by your piece or customer-order volume.
Costs (Expenses) as a Percentage of Sales Measurement. The next operation
measurement is the cost (expenses) as a percentage of sales productivity figure. The
cost as a percentage of sales measurement uses the total method costs and your total
pieces or customer orders that were moved by your method.
To calculate the cost as a percentage of sales measurement, the total method
operational costs are divided by your companys total sales.
The disadvantages of this technique are that it fluctuates by the cost per piece
or customer-order, and is affected by cost factors that are noncontrollable for the
method manager. The noncontrollable costs are the operational costs that are not
directly controlled by your method manager.
Weight for the Pieces or Customer-Orders Handled Measurement.
The weight for the pieces or customer-orders handled measurement is the next order-
fulfillment or across-the-dock cost measurement. The weight for the pieces or cus-
tomer-orders handled measurement components are total weight for the total pieces
or customer orders that were handled by your operation, and the total employee
hour number that was required to move the pieces or to complete the customer orders.
To calculate the weight for this measurement, the steps are to multiply the pieces
or customer orders by the associated weight for the pieces or customer orders, which
results in the total piece or customer-order handled weight, and to divide this weight
by the total operation employee hours.
The weight for pieces or customer-orders handled measurement results are that
the method measures the total weight for the pieces or customer orders that were
handled by your operation, and that it shows your employee operational hours that
were required to move the pieces or to complete the customer orders.
With these characteristics, the weight for the pieces or customer-orders handled
measurement has a direct relationship to your operation. When your operations
piece or customer-order mix has a consistent shape and weight, the advantages are
that many formula difficulties are substantially reduced and that one period mea-
surement is compared to another period measurement. If your operations piece or
customer-order mix has a wide shape and weight variety, you obtain a total for all
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102 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

the pieces or customer orders that were handled by your operation. The total weight
calculation methods are achieved by using an average weight for the pieces or
customer orders or by summing the individual pieces or customer-orders weights.
Pieces or Customer-Orders Handled Measurement. The pieces or customer-
orders handled measurement is the next measurement. The pieces or customer-orders
completed measurement is similar to the weight for the pieces or customer-orders
completed measurement. The similarity is that both measurement methods are based
on the piece or customer-order number completed by your operation and the total
employee hour number.
To calculate this measurement, the total piece or customer-order number that
was completed by your operation is divided by the total employee hour number.
If your method handles a wide piece or customer-order mix with a wide weight
variation, the pieces or customer-orders completed measurement allows you to
compare on a consistent basis several periods for your operations productivity.

EMPLOYEE HOURS MUST BE CONSISTENT


It is your top managements discretion to determine the total employee hours that
are associated with your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method.
The value to your method productivity measurement in being consistent is that
it allows you to make comparisons between two or more time periods and permits
tracking your operation; to use it as an annual operational expense budget tool; and
to use it to schedule employees, equipment, and vendor delivery trucks.
For your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method measurement to have these
features, your employee hour number is consistent for each period. If you compare
your companys hours and ratios to another companys figures, your managers
concern is that the employee activities (hours) that are considered operational activ-
ities at one company are possibly different from another companys activities.
Most industry professionals agree that employees who have a direct contact
with your piece or customer-order or employees who control equipment that touches
or moves pieces or customer orders are considered operational employee activities.
The disagreement among industry professionals and managers is about the
employee activities (hours) that are associated with the indirect or support employee
activities or hours. These indirect or support employee activities are supervisor,
clerk, maintenance, and sanitation hours. These employee activities or employee-
controlled equipment do not directly touch or move a piece or customer-order. The
agreement is that without their support activity your operation has a difficult task
to maintain your budgeted operational costs, projected employee productivity, and
on-schedule customer service. With this position some industry professionals con-
sider some or all of these employee support activity hours as operational hours.
It is the authors position that your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock produc-
tivity measurement method components are one subtotal for direct employee hours,
a second subtotal for indirect employee hours, and a total for the sum for all direct
and indirect employee hours. It is noted that these are major employee classifications
and that within the direct and indirect labor classifications there are subclasses.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 103

This order-fulfillment or across-the-dock measurement method for separate


labor hour classification provides you with a complete analysis for your order-
fulfillment or across-the-dock operation and a tool for your employee work sched-
uling and annual expense budget preparation. This employee hour separation shows
how employee hours, piece or customer-order volume variance (increase or
decrease) has an effect on the operation employee classifications and hours, oper-
ation productivity, and costs. When required to justify an actual dollar cost to budget
dollar cost variance, this employee hour classification provides you with the data
to explain the variance.

SEVEN ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR
ACROSS-THE-DOCK RATIOS
The next group of material-handling or order-fulfillment or across-the-dock opera-
tion measurements consists of seven material-handling or order-fulfillment or across-
the-dock ratios. These seven ratios appeared in Bases of Material Handling. This
was a publication that was prepared by the Material Handling Institute. As stated in
this publication, each of these seven ratios represents a way of establishing some
material-handling or order-fulfillment or across-the-dock quantitative figures. The
seven ratios advantages are that they allow you to determine your order-fulfillment
or across-the-dock operations effectiveness; they permit you to use past or historical
operational data; with the past, present, and projected quantitative figures, these
ratios show your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operations improvement; and
the quantitative figures can affect your companys short- and long-term order-ful-
fillment or across-the-dock investment strategies.
The order-fulfillment or across-the-dock ratios are the order-fulfillment or
across-the-dock employee (labor) ratio, the direct-employee (labor) handling loss
ratio, the piece or customer-order movement or operation ratio, the customer-order
cycle efficiency ratio, the space utilization efficiency ratio; the equipment utilization
ratio, and the aisle space potential ratio.

ORDER-FULFILLMENT OR ACROSS-THE-DOCK EMPLOYEE (LABOR) RATIO


The order-fulfillment or across-the-dock employee (labor) ratio is the first order-
fulfillment or across-the-dock quantitative ratio. The employee ratio indicates your
employee hour number that was assigned to operational activities as a percentage
of your companys total operational employee number.
The ratio is calculated by the employee number that was assigned to the operation
and is a direct expense. This means that an employee moved or controlled equipment
that moved a piece or completed a customer-order. In the formula to calculate the
employee ratio, this figure is considered the numerator.
Your employees who are assigned to your operation but do not perform a function
as previously described are considered part of the total company employees. In the
formula to calculate the employee ratio, this figure is part of the numerator. Some
of these employees that are added to the total count are from the clerk, supervisors,
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104 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

sanitation, and maintenance employees. To ensure ratio consistency, a portion of


this indirect employee time is considered part of the operation employee time.
The advantages of the employee ratio are that it is easy to calculate; that it
indicates employee or labor hours relationship to your companys total employees;
that if a change is made to your method work, it shows the improvement by showing
the labor savings; and that when you plot an employee ratio on a graph, the historical
ratio data shows a trend.

DIRECT-EMPLOYEE HANDLING LOSS RATIO


The direct employee handling loss ratio is the second operation quantitative ratio.
This ratio measures the direct operational employee time for your employees who
are allocated to nonorder operational activities but performed an operational activity.
These employees complete or in the course of their work performed an operational
activity. This operational activity is additional time that is allocated to your opera-
tional activity time and reduces the direct-employee operational activity time.
The ratio is calculated by the nonoperational total direct-employee time divided
into the operational time lost by nonoperational direct-employee time.
The advantages for this ratio are that it is easy to calculate, and when you
consider a new method or a change to an existing method, it identifies all method
activities that are directly affected by your method. Also, this lost employee time
can be used as part of the economic justification of a new method because the
employees hours are converted into a cost reduction.
The disadvantage is that you verify that the nonoperational direct employee loss
time is accurate. Steps to verify the accuracy of the nonoperational direct employee
loss time include having an outside consultant evaluate the operation or perform a
time study for the specific operational activity.

PIECE OR CUSTOMER-ORDER MOVEMENT OR OPERATION RATIO


The third quantitative ratio is the piece or customer-order movement or operation
ratio. The piece or customer-order movement or operation ratio is the number of
times that your method is required to move pieces or customer orders that are
delivered to workstations or on a pick line to complete a customers order.
The piece or customer-order movement or operation ratio is expressed as a piece
or customer-order movement activity station or pick line operation ratio. In an order-
fulfillment operation, the ratio is calculated by dividing the number of pick-line
stations into the number of customer-order moves, which include receiving, storage
replenishment, picking, packing, manifesting, and loading. For an across-the-dock
operation, the ratio is calculated by dividing activity stations (receiving, scanning,
manifesting, and loading) into the number of piece moves.
The advantages are that it determines the efficiency of your method layout and
identifies the number of items in an order-fulfillment operation that are candidates
for off-line picking and packing. In addition, on a pick-line operation, it identifies
slow-moving SKUs that are grouped together and reduces the number of pick
position replenishment trips.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 105

CUSTOMER-ORDER-FULFILLMENT CYCLE
EFFICIENCY RATIO
The customer-cycle efficiency ratio is the next quantitative ratio. The ratio is termed
the customer-order-fulfillment cycle efficiency. This ratio shows the actual opera-
tional time that is spent to pick and pack and ship a customer-order out the shipping
door. This ratio indicates the time that is required for a piece or customer-order to
move through your order-fulfillment or across-the-dock operation. Another ratio
explanation is the time for a piece or customer-order to move from the receiving
door to the shipping door.
The customer-order-fulfillment cycle efficiency is calculated by dividing the total
time that is required to complete (pick, pack, and ship) a customer-order into the
total operational time.
This ratio calculation indicates the total time or the time that is required to move
pieces or customer orders from the receiving area to your storage area, from the
storage area to the pick line and to your shipping door; it also indicates the total
time that is required to move your pieces or customer orders from the first pick
position, to the pack and manifest position, and through the shipping door. With this
door-to-door analysis, this ratio shows the length of time that your piece or customer-
order is in the storage area and that the customer-order is in your order-fulfillment
area, or the customer-order time to travel over your across-the-dock transportation
and sorting method. The value of this ratio is that shows the value of a just-in-time
replenishment to the pick position or across-the-dock program for your companys
supply chain logistics strategy.

SPACE-UTILIZATION EFFICIENCY RATIO


The space-utilization efficiency ratio is the fifth quantitative ratio. The space-utili-
zation efficiency ratio measures the use of the space for your method such as racks,
pick positions, or pieces, or the customer-order transport travel path in relationship
to the total space for the method. Examples of the total space for the method include
occupied storage positions compared to the total number of storage positions in the
storage area; occupied pick positions compared to the total number of pick positions
in the pick aisle, on the pick line, or in an automatic pick machine; receiving and
shipping dock staging area compared to the total area; and the space for a backup
vehicle or personnel aisles along a powered-vehicle travel path compared to the
combined total space for all aisles in the facility.
This ratio determines the occupied storage positions compared to the total
number of storage positions in the storage area method. To calculate the space
utilization ratio, you determine the occupied total storage positions or cubic feet and
divide by your total number of storage positions or cubic feet in the storage area
method. When the cubic feet or quarter-, half-, or three-quarter-full pallet analysis
is made, the space utilization indicates a more exact picture. For example, in a master
carton or pallet storage area, the space utilization occupied is based on storage
positions with cartons or pallets, divided by the total number of storage positions
in the storage area.
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106 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

The ratios benefit is that it identifies a company functional space that is not
effectively used by an occupied storage position to the total number of storage
positions in the storage area operation. This space is available space for expansion,
additional pallet storage positions, or adjustments to the rack position height.

EQUIPMENT UTILIZATION RATIO


The sixth quantitative ratio is the equipment utilization ratio. The occupied storage
positions to the total number of storage positions utilization ratio shows the
effective use of your occupied storage positions compared to the total number of
storage positions.
The equipment utilization ratio components are the total storage position number
and your actual occupied storage position number.
To determine the storage equipment utilization ratio, the total storage position
number is divided into the actual occupied storage positions.
To determine the pick equipment utilization ratio, the occupied pick positions
in the pick aisle, along the pick line, or in automatic pick equipment are divided
into the actual occupied pick positions in the pick aisle, along the pick line, or in
the automatic pick equipment.
The advantages of this ratio are that it shows the available equipment capacity,
and if completed on a day or week basis, it indicates the slowest time period that
is available for maintenance, equipment modification, or new equipment installation;
and that, when the ratio is calculated for each workstation on a value-added process
line, in a pick aisle, along a pick line, or in an automatic pick machine, it shows
potential low pick productivity or piece or customer-order queue areas.

AISLE-SPACE POTENTIAL RATIO


The aisle space potential ratio is the seventh quantitative ratio. The aisle-space
potential ratio shows the effective aisle area use. This ratio is very similar to the
space utilization efficiency ratio.
The ratios components are the recommended replenishment and pick aisle space
and the actual replenishment and pick aisle space.
The recommended aisle space is the equipment manufacturers stated minimum
aisle width. In the storage area, the minimum storage vehicle aisle width is the clear
distance between two storage racks (product), and it is the dimension that is required
for the vehicle to make a right-angle (stacking) turn. The right-angle turn allows the
storage vehicle to complete a storage transaction.
In other facility travel aisles, the minimum aisle widths are the aisle width that
allows a vehicle to travel from one aisle to an adjacent aisle, and the aisle width
that allows two-way vehicle traffic through an aisle.
In a conveyor operation, the minimum travel path is the space (width and height);
components are the actual space that permits pieces or customer orders to move on
the conveying surface and the actual space that is required for the structure to support
the conveying surface and piece or customer-order clearances.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 107

The actual aisle space is the actual distance between two storage racks, pieces,
or two pieces of equipment, or from a piece of equipment to a building wall or obstacle.
The recommended aisle floor space is calculated by your equipment manufac-
turers recommended aisle width multiplied by the aisle length. The actual aisle floor
space is calculated by your actual aisle width and your actual aisle length.
The benefits are that it identifies the available space that is occupied by a traffic
aisle or personnel or mobile equipment travel path and when you consider a remodel
or a new method that requires a narrower aisle, this floor space helps the economic
justification of the alternative method.

KEEP IT SIMPLE
The second consideration for a good order-fulfillment or across-the-dock employee
productivity program is to keep it simple, make it complete, and make sure it is
clearly understood by your employees and management supervisors.

IT MUST BE COST EFFECTIVE


The third order-fulfillment or across-the-dock employee productivity program fea-
ture is that it is a cost-effective system. The method that you use to obtain your
employee work activity information does not require the employees, supervisors, or
clerks to spend a large amount of time. If your record-keeping process requires a
large amount of time, your employee time spent to record work activity offsets your
employee productivity improvements.

RESULTS MUST BE TIMELY


The last employee productivity improvement program characteristic is that the actual
employee activity data are gathered, reported, and analyzed in a timely manner.
Timely information permits your management team to review an individual
employees or shifts productivity performance. This information with the projected
order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method piece or customer-order volume permits
your management staff to project the next days labor, delivery vehicle, and equip-
ment schedules.

VARIOUS MEASUREMENT STANDARDS


For a useful order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method employee productivity
program, your employee productivity is tracked and compared against your com-
panys standard or budgeted employee productivity measurement. The order-fulfill-
ment or across-the-dock method employee measurement standards are the agreed-
upon standard, the industry standard, your own company standard, the time-study
standard, and the regression analysis.
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108 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

AGREED-UPON OR BUDGETED STANDARD


The first order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method employee productivity measure-
ment standard is the agreed-upon or budgeted employee productivity standard. The
first step in this measurement standard is to predetermine the number of times that
your employee performs the activity. This activity frequency is agreed upon by your
management staff and employee group. The performance standard becomes the
employee productivity rate to perform the activity. This employee productivity rate is
the hourly rate that is used to project the annual labor expense for your annual
operational budget or to justify your method expenditure.

INDUSTRY STANDARD
The second order-fulfillment or across-the-dock employee productivity standard is
an industry standard measurement or another companys employee productivity
measurement.
When you use another companys employee productivity measurement as your
companys employee productivity measurement standard, the potential problems are
different piece or customer-order mix and characteristics, due to the nature of the
business and size; confidence in the other companys employee productivity figure,
meaning how the productivity figure was calculated and what factors the other
company used in the productivity figure; employee productivity figure components;
and accounting uniformity for the employee productivity.

YOUR COMPANY STANDARD


The third order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method employee productivity stan-
dard is your companys historical or goal-set employee productivity figures as a
measurement. These employee productivity figures are obtained from your com-
panys past order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method records.

TIME-STUDY STANDARD
The time-study order-fulfillment or across-the-dock method employee productivity
measurement is the next employee productivity standard. A time-study method has
an industrial engineer or management staff member who is required to take several
time observations of the employees who perform the activity. These observed times
are averaged and are the basis for the employee productivity standard for future
employees who perform the activity.

REGRESSION ANALYSIS
The fifth employee productivity measurement is the regression analysis method. The
regression analysis method is a mathematical calculation that involves multiple
variables relating to the projected employee productivity.
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Order-Fulfillment and Across-the-Dock Objectives 109

EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY IS TIED TO YOUR


ANNUAL EXPENSE BUDGET
An order-fulfillment or across-the-dock methods employee productivity programs
true value is that it provides your method manager with an employee productivity
rate that is considered an accurate forecast tool. This forecast tool is used to project
and control your companys method labor expense dollars and to provide on-schedule
service to your customers. The employee productivity rate is the basis to calculate
your annual method budget labor dollar expense; calculate the budget dollar justi-
fication for a capital expenditure; and forecast your companys labor hours, expense,
vehicle deliveries, and equipment and labor schedules.
After your employee productivity program is implemented in your daily method,
this employee productivity is tied to the annual operating labor expense budget and
is related to your capital expenditure justification. If your method employees exceed
or achieve this projected employee productivity rate, top management considers that
the method operation performance is above par. This above-par performance lowers
the method cost per unit and increases the company profit. If your method employees
do not achieve this projected employee productivity rate, top management considers
that the method operation performance is below par. This below-par performance
increases the method cost per unit and lowers the company profit.
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3 Order-Fulfillment
Systems

INTRODUCTION
A variety of order-fulfillment systems are in use today. Each has a specific operating
methodology, with strong points and weak points. Some are better suited to a specific
order profile, while others are better suited to different types of products or different
product profiles. Others are more flexible in their product suitability than others.
Before considering any of the order-fulfillment systems below, a company should
have data on its order profile, the velocity of all stock-keeping units (SKUs), and
its customer profile. All of these data should be thoroughly analyzed to determine
which type of system to implement or which system fits with the specific product
type. It is not unusual for one facility to have multiple order-fulfillment methodol-
ogies, each one matching a specific product type and picking profile. Order-fulfill-
ment systems can be divided into two types: picking systems and put systems.

THE BASICS OF SPLIT-CASE ORDER PICKING

One basic guideline for all order-selection systems manual or automated is


the product profile, or slotting on the pick line. The product profile is based on the
relative velocity and physical characteristics of the individual SKUs. Higher-velocity
SKUs are typically placed in what is referred to in ergonomic terms as the golden
zone. The golden zone is the area between the knees and shoulders where a picker
can be the most productive with the least amount of bending and reaching. The
reader can consult an ergonomic handbook for the precise 95th percentile anthro-
pomorphic data.
Profile analysis will also dictate a storage medium, and will indicate how much
product should be on the shelf in order to satisfy the basic criterion of the
replenishment interval. As a minimum, there should be a sufficient quantity of each
SKU in the primary picking location to satisfy the average need for a single picking
shift. The business plan of a company may dictate up to a five-day supply in the
primary picking location. The replenishment interval balances picking efficiency,
space, and replenishment efficiency and effort.
The profile or slotting analysis is based on the velocity of the product through
the distribution center. Additional factors include the length, width, height, and

111
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112 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

weight of the master cartons or totes where the product is picked. Beside the
individual SKU characteristics above, the SKU may belong to a product family; in
other words, an order for SKU A usually includes SKU B as part of the order. These
SKUs will then be placed close to each other to minimize travel between picks.
SKUs with very similar size, shape, and color may present another concern.
These products should not be placed next to each other on the shelf. This can
eliminate two possible sources of error. The first potential error is a replenishment
error. This occurs when a stocker or replenishment person puts the product in the
wrong picking location. Too many similar products in close proximity increase the
likelihood of a replenishment error.
The second type of error is a picking error. This occurs when an order picker
is working rapidly and not paying close attention. Numerous similar-looking SKUs
in close proximity can lead to the pickers selecting the wrong SKU for the order.
This is more problematic for some picking methods than for others.
Regardless of the cause, the customer will get the wrong item in his or her
shipment and will be unaware of whether this is due to a picking error or a slotting
error. To the customer, an error is an error. Careful slotting analysis will prevent
both potential errors.
Slotting analysis will also help to determine the correct product-storage medium.
The basic types of product storage for picking are (1) static shelving, (2) carton flow
racking, and (3) pallets-on-pallet flow lanes. Each of these will be addressed later
in the chapter.
There are several commercial slotting software packages available today. Some
are available as option packages on a warehouse management system (WMS) and
others are stand-alone packages. This works by analyzing the sales data to show the
velocity of the products and the master product file for the carton dimensions and
weight.
In the past, profiling a picking operation was done infrequently, if at all. Profiling
was typically done only when a new picking operation was set up. Slotting changes
consisted merely of replacing an old SKU with a new SKU. Often this was based
on the product dimensions. In other words, the new SKU was assigned a slot in the
picking operation based solely on the physical dimensions of the available location.
In some cases, slotting was based on a SKU identification number. SKUs were
located consecutively by number, regardless of sales data.
Changing the slotting of a picking operation is neglected for two reasons. First,
the analysis is difficult to perform manually or with a spreadsheet. Second, physical
movement of the product is time-consuming and must be done when picking is not
in operation. While the latter still presents a problem, slotting software can make
the analysis easier.
Rather than changing the profile of the entire picking operation, slotting software
can dynamically track all the SKUs and order the slotting moves by rank. The
operations department can change the profile incrementally by attacking the highest-
priority SKUs first. The department can select the 10 most beneficial moves and
make those moves at the end of a shift. Over several days, the overall efficiency of
the picking operation can be improved dramatically, one step at a time.
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Order-Fulfillment Systems 113

PUT SYSTEM BASICS


Although a put system has some picking characteristics, put and pick systems are
fundamentally different. Picking involves transporting the order container (carton or
tote) past individual SKUs and selecting items for the order. In a put system, the
order cartons are in a fixed location and the SKU container moves past the order
cartons or totes. As the SKU passes by the orders, the operator selects items from
the SKU container and places them in the order carton or tote.
Prior to the above putting operation, some order analysis and management is
required to determine which master SKU cartons are needed for the days orders.
These cartons must be pulled or picked from storage locations so that they can pass
by the order containers. Some put systems are manual; others are based on radio
frequency (RF) scan, voice, light display, or carousel.

OTHER PRODUCT ISSUES


If an individual SKU velocity is very large, it may be necessary to have multiple
locations for picking that SKU and others of similar velocity. Some systems will
allow multiple slotting or multiple locations, so that there will be sufficient quantity
on the shelf to get through an entire shift without replenishing. Some systems will
actually require multiple slotting because they do not readily lend themselves to
replenishment while picking operations are underway.
If there is a large number of very high-velocity SKUs, it may make sense to
have multiple parallel picking operations. This is actually quite common in some
facilities with very high-velocity SKUs. During the slack period, only one line may
be in operation, while in a peak season several duplicate lines may be required to
meet demand. Another variation is for a company to have several regional distribution
centers with the same SKUs and the same picking equipment.

STORAGE OR PICKING MEDIUM


STATIC SHELVING
Static shelving is also known as bin shelving (Figure 3.1). Shelving units are usually
3 to 4 feet wide and 5 to 6 feet tall. Shelf depth can be up to 2 feet. There may be
any number of shelves, depending on the physical dimensions of the product stored
on them. Typically, static shelving is used for slower-velocity SKUs, because there
is limited space for each SKU and replenishing while picking is very difficult.
Static shelving units can be arranged in a number of different ways. They can
be in long or short aisles. There can be a perpendicular conveyor at the end of the
aisle (Figure 3.2), or the conveyor can run down the aisle itself. The units can be
arranged in U-shaped picking cells so that the order picker can access more SKUs
with less walking.
The chief advantage of static shelving is low cost; static shelves can store a lot
of SKUs for the money. The chief disadvantage is that the quantity of each SKU
that is available for picking is rather low; bin shelving is not well suited to high-
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114 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

FIGURE 3.1 Bin shelving. (From Kingway Materials Handling, Acworth, GA. With
permission.)

Carton Flow

Conveyor

Static Bin Shelving

FIGURE 3.2 Static shelving with conveyor perpendicular to the aisle at the end of the aisle.

velocity products. The only opening on these shelves is from the front, so replen-
ishment and picking must take place in the same aisle space.

CARTON FLOW RACKS


Carton flow racking is arranged in bays, with a varying number of shelves and SKUs
per shelf (Figure 3.3). The shelves can be anywhere from 2 to 20 feet deep. Each
shelf is installed with a roll track, which supports the cartons or totes of product, and
dividers to separate the lanes of product. These shelves have a slight decline from
back to front so that the product rolls to the front of the shelf. The angle of decline,
or pitch, of the shelves is adjustable to aid the flow of the products being picked. For
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Order-Fulfillment Systems 115

FIGURE 3.3 Carton flow rack. (From Kingway Materials Handling, Acworth, GA. With
permission.)

example, hard plastic totes roll much more easily than corrugated cartons and require
less shelf pitch. The width of the shelves can vary depending on the specific require-
ments of the installation. However, standard widths are 60 and 96 inches.
Carton flow racking can be placed in stand-alone frames, mounted in pallet rack
frames, or installed in multilevel pick modules.
Stand-alone carton flow frames come in two styles. The first type has straight
vertical frame members. The second type has a layback frame. These vertical frame
members lay back a few degrees from the vertical. The purpose of this frame type
is to allow the shelves to have a staggered or tiered arrangement from bottom to
top. This presents the product to the picker so that it is easy to grasp and extract
from the master carton.
Carton flow racking has two basic types of shelves (Figure 3.4). The most
common is a straight shelf. As the name implies, the shelf is completely straight,
with a roll track from the front edge to the back edge. The second type of shelf is
a tilt-tray shelf. The shelf has a tray on the front that tilts down a few degrees to
present the product to the picker. This angle makes it easier to select an item from
the carton and increases picker productivity, while decreasing the potential risk of
an ergonomics-related injury. A tilt-tray shelf coupled with a layback frame presents
the product to the picker so that the entire top of the product carton or tote is
exposed for easy access during the picking process. This is in contrast to the straight
shelf in a straight frame, where the order picker must reach in to grasp the items
being picked.
Carton flow can present a large number of SKUs to the picker in a relatively
small space. In addition, the depth of the shelves permits stockers to put sufficient
quantity on them for an entire shift. It also makes simultaneous picking and replen-
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116 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

FIGURE 3.4 Carton flow frames and shelves. (From Kingway Materials Handling, Acworth,
GA. With permission.)

ishment a possibility. The picker works on the front side of the shelf, while the
stockers replenish product on the back side.
Carton flow is used with higher-velocity SKUs. It increases the efficiency of the
picking operation compared to static shelving. It is flexible and allows replenishment
during picking operations.
There is another relatively new product on the market that goes by a number of
different trade names. It is a roller track that looks like a small conveyor (Figure 3.5).
As opposed to the narrow track with a small plastic wheel that is found on most
carton flow applications, this track has the appearance of a small lightweight gravity
conveyor. Each track is a few inches wide, and the tracks come in varying lengths.
Coupled with some hanger brackets, the roller track is fitted into regular pallet
racking. The crossbeams on the pallet rack can be staggered in height to put a pitch
on the track that will make product cartons roll more easily. This track product is
typically used with very heavy master cartons.
New additions to this product include a tilt shelf that hangs over the pallet beam
to present the product in a position that facilitates picking. This track product is
used most often in retrofits of an existing distribution center, where there will be
picking primarily on the ground level and pallet storage above.

FIGURE 3.5 Roller track for pallet rack. (From Span-Track by UNEX, Jackson, NJ. With
permission.)
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Order-Fulfillment Systems 117

FIGURE 3.6 Pallet flow lane. (From Kingway Materials Handling, Acworth, GA. With
permission.)

PALLET FLOW LANES


Pallet flow lanes (Figure 3.6) are common for extremely high-velocity or bulky split-
case SKUs. Such items are presented for picking in this manner because they would
take up too many carton flow lanes for a single shifts picking activity, or would
require continual replenishment during the shift.
Like carton flow racks, pallet flow lanes can be replenished on the back side
while the picker is fulfilling orders on the front side. Pallet flow lanes can be as
deep as required and can hold multiple pallets. It is not unusual to have some pallet
flow lanes mixed with carton flow racks to accommodate the different velocities of
various SKUs in the picking operation.

PICKING MODULES
A picking module is a multilevel, engineered system of picking operations, storage,
and mezzanines (Figure 3.7). They have two, three, or four levels and can incorporate
all of the aforementioned storage and picking media. There is usually an aisle down
the center on each level for picking operations and conveyors. The entire picking
module may be devoted to a single storage and picking medium, or may be divided
by level into carton flow, pallet flow, and static shelving, or any other combination.
The conveyor layout in a picking module configured for split-case picking most
often has both gravity and powered conveyors. The powered takeaway conveyor is
down the center, with a gravity line down each side. There is often a trash conveyor
to dispose of empty cartons and packing materials from the master cartons. (Full-
case picking modules usually have a powered takeaway conveyor down the center,
without a trash conveyor.)
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118 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

FIGURE 3.7 Multilevel picking mezzanine module. (From Kingway Materials Handling,
Acworth, GA. With permission.)

If the picking is done into plastic totes, there may also be an empty tote line
somewhere in the pick module to supply totes to the pickers.

GENERAL PICK-LINE LAYOUT


Except as noted for some specific picking methods below, picking is done from a
pick line of some sort. Static shelving, carton flow racks, and pallet flow lanes can
be laid out in separate picking areas or combined. They can be arranged in a long
line on one side of a conveyor or in a large U-shaped picking area. They can be
arranged with a carton flow rack on one side of a conveyor and with static shelving
on the other side, wherein one person picks both fast and slow items for the same
area. Some very high-production pick lines have carton flow racks on both sides of
a conveyor line in a cross-aisle picking arrangement. Other high-production lines
use a small U-shaped picking cell with carton flow racks in front of the picker and
on both sides. This greatly reduces unproductive walking by the order pickers.

TYPES OF ORDER-FULFILLMENT SYSTEMS


Each of the specific order-fulfillment systems discussed below can be used in piece
picking and split-case or broken-case order picking. Some can also be adapted to
full-case operations.
The types of split-case-order-fulfillment systems (sometimes referred to as piece-
picking or each-picking systems) are pick-to-paper, RF scanner, voice, A-frame, tilt-
tray sorter, carousel, put, and pick-to-light. Each has its strengths and weaknesses
(Table 3.1). Each will perform the required task for some products. Some will work
with a wider range of products and a greater variety of orders.
TABLE 3.1
Order-Fulfillment Systems

Comparison of Order-Selection System Characteristics


Order Selection Comparison
SKU Picker Store Relative Cost to Cost to Cost to
System Based Based Based Flexible Productivity Accuracy Training Cost Add Picker Add SKUs Add Stores

Paper X ++++ $
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RF scan X X + +++ +++ $$$ $


Voice X X + ++ +++ $$$ $
A-frame X +++ +++ $$$$$ $$$
Tilt-tray X X + +++ $$$$$ $$$
Carousel pick X X + +++ ++ $$$ $$ $$$
Carousel put X X + +++ ++ $$$ $$
PTL/display pick X X ++ +++ + $$$ $
PTL/display put X X + +++ + $$$ $
119
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120 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

There are some variations within each of the above systems. With each system,
the order can be picked or put into a reusable tote or directly into the shipping carton.
The tote may only go as far as a packing station, or it may go all the way to the
retail store. Totes are expensive, but if the distribution center uses its own trucks to
ship to the same retail stores, totes can be very cost-effective.

CART SYSTEMS
Paper, RF scanner, voice, and pick-to-light systems can also use carts to batch-pick
orders. The method is to push a cart with a batch of orders through a pick aisle once
per batch, and to stop at a pick face only once per batch. If, for example, the cart
has space for eight orders, the picker goes down an aisle once instead of eight times
to complete the orders. The product profile for batch picking to carts is low velocity
with a high number of SKUs. There is also an assumption that the order-management
system will batch orders with like SKUs within a wave.

PICK-TO-PAPER SYSTEMS
The pick-to-paper system is a basic manual picking method using a paper pick slip.
The SKUs are usually positioned on static shelving bins, carton flow racks, or pallets
in pallet flow lanes. The pick slip has the SKUs printed in the order of the physical
location of the product, so the picker can go down the slip from top to bottom in
sequence while walking down the pick line. In addition to the customer identification
and order numbers, each pick on the pick slip has a single line entry. The line also
contains, in some order designed by the operations group, the SKU number, SKU
description, pick location, and quantity to pick. In a pick-to-paper scenario, one
picker usually picks the entire order and then gets another pick slip for the next order.

Location Identification
Pick locations are identified through a master location scheme, which identifies a
picking area, bay or bin, shelf, and slot. The location identification, SKU number,
and description are written both on the pick location and on the picking slip. Location
identification should have a logical sequence so the worker can readily identify
where the next pick will be. Likewise, the picking slip should have the items sorted
by location identification to facilitate efficient picking.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The pick-to-paper system is a low-cost and flexible picking method. There are,
however, some drawbacks to paper-based picking. One issue is training. It may take
several weeks for a new picker to learn all the SKUs and their locations and become
a productive employee. This can be a major issue if the picking operation has a
seasonal spike in orders that requires bringing in temporary labor.
This method generally has a high error rate, and productivity rates are low. Error
rates are high because the method relies on the pickers finding the pick location
and identifying the product. Productivity rates are also lower than more automated
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Order-Fulfillment Systems 121

methods because the picker spends time looking for the pick location and walking
the entire pick route for the order.
Paper-based systems entail additional processing of orders before and after
picking. After they are printed, the orders must be separated, sorted, and distributed
to the picking areas in the distribution center. The method also requires postpicking
reconciliation of the orders to account for shorted SKUs. This can cause delays in
trucks leaving the shipping dock, because the trucks must wait for shipping manifests
to be generated from the manual postpicking process. The extra man-hours required
for pre- and postpicking processes causes another decrease in overall productivity.
Manual picking systems do not feature real-time feedback to the host WMS or order-
management system for inventory control purposes.

RADIO FREQUENCY SCANNER AND VOICE SYSTEMS


System Characteristics
The authors have put these two types of systems together because of the similar
product profiles and order characteristics that work best with these methods. Recent
product development efforts on both types of systems are pushing them toward
greater similarity. Voice systems are adding bar-code scanners for data acquisition,
and RF scanning systems are adding voice recognition.
Both systems use a broad-spectrum RF backbone to support their operations.
The chief differences involve the specific manner of delivering instructions to the
operator and the operator response.
Traditional RF scanning systems have handheld scanners with varying degrees
of intelligence. The device has a liquid crystal display (LCD) display to relay
instructions to the operator and a keypad for the operator to input responses. The
operator uses the bar-code scanner to confirm the SKU, location, or order number.
The unit relays commands and data input via the RF network back to the system
controller. The controller has an interface with a host system that is either an order-
management system or a WMS.
There is an adapted version of the handheld scanner wherein the user wears the
equipment. In this case, the scanner is worn like a ring, while the LCD display and
keypad are strapped to the operators arm. A battery pack may be worn on a belt around
the operators waist. This frees the operators hand and helps to improve productivity.
A voice system provides audio instructions to the operator. The operator acts
on the instructions, and confirms the action with a voice response. The instructions
come over the RF backbone from the system controller, and the responses go over
the same RF backbone back to the system controller.
Voice systems use a limited instruction set and recognize specific words in
specific response sequences. They are trained to recognize the voice characteristics
of each operator. The data acquisition limitations of voice systems have caused
manufacturers to move toward adding bar-code scanning to their systems.
Both voice and RF systems can perform a variety of functions in addition to
order picking. RF systems can be mounted on fork trucks and used in directed put-
away and replenishment operations. Both can also be used in receiving, and, with
order picker man-up fork trucks, to pick items from pallet storage areas.
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122 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Order Profiles

Voice and RF bar-code systems work well in a high-volume SKU environment with
medium to slow SKU velocity. In this setting, they are relatively inexpensive and
their cost is based on the number of operators and not the number of SKUs. It is
relatively easy to add SKUs. Voice systems have a small advantage over RF scanners
in that the pickers hands are free to lift larger SKUs or to grab several small SKUs.
RF bar-code systems have an advantage when significant data acquisition is required
while picking. Both systems can be used to batch multiple orders together on a cart
to make pickers more productive.

System Operation

The system controller receives order information from the WMS or order-manage-
ment system. Pickers receive order information based either on their assigned work
area or sequentially, first-in, first-out (FIFO). In the RF scanner system the order
and pick information is displayed on the scanners LCD display. In the voice system
the picker hears a pick location. In each system the picker verifies the pick location,
either by scanning or by verbal command; picks the quantity; and confirms the pick
by pressing a button on the scanner or by giving a voice command. The system then
responds with the next pick instruction. The picker repeats the sequence until all
picks are completed.

Using Scanning and Voice Systems with a Cart

The operator puts several order cartons or totes on a cart (Figure 3.8). Either by
scanning the order labels or by giving a voice command, the operator tells the system
what specific orders he or she will be filling. The operator then gets a command to
proceed to the first pick location. When the operator confirms that he or she has
reached the location, he or she will be directed to pick the correct number of units
for each order. The operator may pick 10 units, but put one unit in one order, three
in another, four in another, and two in another. When the operator confirms the pick,
the system will direct him or her to the next SKU location and repeat the sequence
until the orders are completed.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Both systems are accurate methods of picking split-case orders. The order accuracy
of the triple-scan picking method is nearly 100%. In the triple-scan method, the
picker scans the location of the SKU, the SKU bar code, and the order carton to
confirm each pick. While this increases picking accuracy, it comes with a penalty
to productivity.
Both systems eliminate pre- and postorder processing. All order transactions are
in real time, and both systems can provide data to an automated manifesting system
or another down-line system that sends advanced shipping notices to the customer.
Like paper picking operations, the picker must search for the next pick location.
In the scanner-based system, the picker reads the pick information on an LCD screen,
rather than a piece of paper. With each system the picker must still do a search for
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Order-Fulfillment Systems 123

FIGURE 3.8 A pick cart. (From S.I. Handling, Easton, PA. With permission.)

the next location and SKU. The systems present only one pick at a time. Training
is not as lengthy as for a paper-based system, but pickers must still learn the location-
naming scheme used in the distribution center to find the SKUs. In addition, a voice
system must be trained to recognize the voice characteristics of the individual
pickers. Since both systems are picker-based vs. SKU-based, adding more pickers
requires adding more scanner units or voice units.

A-FRAME SYSTEMS
System Characteristics

The A-frame is a highly automated picking machine that works well with a select
group of SKUs (Figure 3.9). The products picked by an A-frame must have the right
size, shape, packaging, and weight in order to work properly with the system.
An A-frame consists of a series of vertical channels above a conveyor. The
vertical channels hold the product, and there is a device at the bottom of each channel
that injects or dispenses the SKU onto the conveyor. An A-frame is a SKU-based
system, so more SKUs require a longer conveyor and more channels and dispensers.
A typical A-frame setup consists of an A-frame flanked on each side by a row
of carton flow or pallet flow racks. The carton flow or pallet flow racks contain the
product used to replenish the A-frame.
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124 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

FIGURE 3.9 A-frame. (From S.I. Handling, Easton, PA. With permission.)

System Operation

The system controller receives the order file from a host WMS or order-management
system. The controller designates a length of conveyor for the order. As the desig-
nated section moves along the A-frame path, the controller fires the dispensers to
pick the SKUs for the order. The conveyor takes the SKUs to a tote or shipping
carton. The order items either waterfall into the box or go into a hopper device
that dumps the product into the carton.
The A-frame method is a very fast and accurate picking method for the right
set of SKUs. It can dispense a lot of product in a short time. Order output rates can
approach 1000 orders per hour. Because it is so fast, however, it does require
considerable replenishment effort. While the picking itself is entirely automated, the
A-frame may require several stockers to replenish the dispensing channels. It is not
unusual to have an A-frame operate in short bursts and then have some downtime
for replenishment (Figure 3.10).

SKU Characteristics

The A-frame method works very well with a limited set of SKUs. The SKUs must
have packaging that is compatible with the dispensers method of getting the order
on the conveyor. The SKU must also have the right weight for the dispensing system.
SKUs that are too heavy or do not have the right packaging will bind with each
other and cause missed picks or jam the system. Different SKUs may have different
replenishment levels based on their weights.
In addition to weight, packaging size and shape are important. The exterior
packaging cannot bind with either the dispensing mechanism or the other packages
in the SKU channel. If the surfaces of the SKU packaging material bind with the
equipment or with another SKU package, the system may jam or short pick the
order.
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Order-Fulfillment Systems 125

FIGURE 3.10 Replenishing an A-frame. (From S.I. Handling, Easton, PA. With permission.)

The SKUs picked by an A-frame should have relatively robust packaging and
should not be easily damaged. There are two times during the picking process when
the product may be subject to damage. The first is during the dispensing of the SKU
onto the belt. The second is when the order goes into the tote or shipping container
(Figure 3.11). Since there is no human handling in the picking or packing operation,
the SKUs should not be fragile and should not be of the type where the end user
expects absolute perfection in the appearance of the outside package.

FIGURE 3.11 A-frame product waterfalling into totes. (From S.I. Handling, Easton, PA.
With permission.)
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126 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

A-frame systems are often used for the distribution of retail drugs, music com-
pact discs (CDs) and cassette tapes, and software CDs. These products are light-
weight and have uniform shape and surface characteristics that make them compat-
ible with the mechanism of the system.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The A-frame is a highly productive picking system for the right SKU set. Getting
the right SKU mix or SKU packaging may be a matter of some trial and error. The
A-frame is among the most expensive picking systems on a per-SKU basis. Fragile
SKUs or SKUs that require some packing are not good A-frame candidates. Replen-
ishment is a major issue in keeping the system working. Most applications include
carton flow racks for the replenishment of the A-frame channels. An A-frame requires
several people to perform the replenishment throughout the picking shift. While
many distribution centers use an A-frame, most of them have other order-fulfillment
operations for the products that cannot use the A-frame.

TILT-TRAY OR CROSS-BELT SORTER SYSTEMS

System Characteristics

Tilt-tray (Figure 3.12) and cross-belt (Figure 3.13) sorters accomplish the same goal.
They are both generally used in a catalog distribution environment where there is a
large number of very diverse SKUs with low velocities. The fundamental difference
between this and other order selection methods is that the SKUs are brought to the
order carton or tote, as opposed to the order cartons being brought to or passing
by the SKU. The operation has three distinct stages pick, sort, and pack in
contrast to a pick-pack-in-one operation.

TILT TRAY SORT DID NOT READ


LOCATIONS

INDUCTION
STATIONS

TILT TRAY TRAVEL PATH


RE-LATCH
TRAY

TILT TRAY SORT CLEAN-OUT


LOCATIONS CHUTE

FIGURE 3.12 Tilt-tray sorter. (From Kosan Crisplant, Aarhus N, Demark. With permission.)
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Order-Fulfillment Systems 127

FIGURE 3.13 Cross-belt sorter. (Photos courtesy of Siemans Dematic [www.siemens-


dematic.us].)

Orders are batched into waves based on a common characteristic, such as


delivery method or route. The order selection system or WMS totals the number of
each SKU for the entire wave. For example, a wave could be a batch of 300 orders.
The total number of picks for a given SKU may be only five. The order pickers
traverse the picking area once per wave, picking the entire amount of each SKU for
the wave. During the pick, the pickers put a bar-coded label on each SKU. The label
has a reference number that will route it to the correct preassigned order packing
station or bin during the subsequent sort.
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128 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

FIGURE 3.14 Tilt-tray packing chute detail. (From Litton Industrial Automation. With
permission.)

System Operation

All of the picked items go into totes that are routed to a sorter induction point. Here,
an operator removes the items from the tote and places them on an induction belt
with the bar code in the correct orientation. The SKU is inducted onto a station on
the sorter. The sorter can be either a large oval, shaped much like a racetrack (tilt-
tray and some cross-belt sorters), or a straight line (small cross-belt sorters). When
the SKU reaches the correct bin or packing station, the tilt-tray will tilt and dump
the SKU into the chute (Figure 3.14). The cross-belt sorter accomplishes the same
thing, but instead of tilting to put the SKU in the proper location, a motor rotates
the belt to put the item into the right location.
Both systems are used to assemble an order consisting of several items from
among the thousands in a distribution center. These items may come from widely
different areas of the distribution center, but are easily brought together using the
sorter. One of the key variables in determining the size of the tilt-tray or cross-belt
sorter is the number of orders to process in a given time period. This will dictate
the number of packing stations. Typically, packers work several packing stations so
they can pack orders from one wave while the items for the next wave are being
inducted and sorted.
There is generally a no-read return or dump station for items that get turned so
that the bar code is not readable. There are also size and weight limitations on the
SKUs that can use these systems. Fragile items may also be ineligible due to the
possibility of damage while going down the chutes. Consult the manufacturers
specifications on the specific systems under consideration to find their limitations.
Like other sophisticated order-fulfillment systems, sorters also require an inter-
face with a host system that is either an order management system or a WMS.
Management and sorting of specific orders into waves takes place on the host system,
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Order-Fulfillment Systems 129

and only the order data are sent to the sorter controller by waves. Reports of order
completion can be sent from the sorter controller back to the host for manifesting
and inventory control purposes.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Like A-frame systems, sorter systems are quite expensive and require detailed
analysis to determine the return on investment for a capital project. If there is enough
order activity to justify the expenditure, these types of systems will be highly
productive. If there is not enough activity to justify the expenditure, there are other
systems that can be used for this type of product and order profile.

CAROUSEL SYSTEMS
Overview

Carousels are among the most widely used (and abused) order-fulfillment systems
on the market today. Carousels come in two basic types, horizontal (Figure 3.15)
and vertical. Within these two basic types there are several variations, mostly related
to the control systems.

System Characteristics

The fundamental principle of the carousel is to have the product come to the picker
instead of the picker going to the product. This goes back to the fundamental picker-
productivity mantra: a walking picker is a picker not picking. Carousels work well
for a specific type of product and a specific order profile. Orders are generally batch
processed in groups of 6 to 12 at a time.

FIGURE 3.15 Horizontal carousel-pick face detail. (From Remstar International, Portland,
ME. With permission.)
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130 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

The most widely used carousel system is the horizontal carousel. Most vertical
carousels are used in small repair parts or record storage.
The horizontal carousel consists of a series of bins on a vertical plane (Figure
3.16). A number of these vertical planes are linked together, and they all rotate
horizontally on a vertical axle. A series of controls, lights, and displays indicates to
the picker what number of items to pick from which bins. There is also a set of
displays to indicate how many of each item should be put into each order container
in the batch. A picker typically works a pod of three or more carousels at a time.
The number of carousels in a pod depends on the size of the carousel and the time
it takes for each carousel to rotate to the next pick item.

SKU Types

The types of SKUs picked from a carousel are usually small, with enough pieces in
a bin to get through an entire picking shift. If one bin cannot hold enough product
to get through an entire shift, then there should be a second or third bin of the same
product in the pod. It is necessary to have sufficient quantity of a SKU in the pod to
get through a shift because it is not possible to pick and replenish at the same time.
Carousel picking operations have separate replenishment shifts and picking shifts.

Pod Configuration

A pod consists of a group of two or more carousels arranged side by side, with a
common area for the batched order containers to sit during picking. The carousels
can be tall or short. If they are too tall for a picker to reach the top tier of bins, the
pod may include a lift. Pods can also be in two levels. There can be three carousel
units on a lower level and three on an upper level. The picker reaches the upper
level from a lift station.
The reason for grouping carousels in a pod is productivity. If the order filler
only works one carousel, he or she will be idle while the carousel rotates (or indexes)
from one picking bin to the next. With multiple carousels in a pod, the order filler
can pick and place product from one carousel, while the others are indexing to the
next pick or picks.
Carousels vary in size. The bigger the individual carousel unit, the longer it may
take to index to the next pick. The longer it takes to index to the next pick, the more
carousels should be in the pod to prevent the order filler from standing idle while
waiting for the next pick.

System Operation

The picker assembles a batch of orders to pick. The batch can be static or dynamic.
Under a static batch scenario, all the items for every order in the batch are picked
before the containers are released and another batch is brought in. If the batch is
dynamic, as each order is completed, that container is pushed off on a take-away
conveyor and is replaced by another carton. The order filler scans a label on each
carton or tote to let the system controller know that the order is available for picking.
The controller rotates (or indexes) to the front of the pod the carousel with the next
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Order-Fulfillment Systems 131

FIGURE 3.16 Carousel pod configuration. (From Remstar International, Portland, ME. With
permission.)
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132 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

SKU to be picked. A light comes on to designate the proper bin to pick and a display
shows the quantity to pick.
The picker selects the quantity and presses a response button to indicate the pick
has been made. The picker turns around to the shipping container array, where
another display in front or above the carton indicates what quantity of the SKU to
put into each order. When all the items are put into the order containers, the picker
pushes a button to indicate to the controller that the pick is completed.
While the picker is placing the picked items into the cartons, the carousel with
the next pick indexes into position, so that the pick is in position when the picker
is ready.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Carousels work very well for smaller, relatively low-velocity SKUs. The chief
limitation of the carousel is the inability to pick and replenish simultaneously. This
drives the distribution center to employ two shifts, one for picking and one for
replenishment.

CAROUSEL PUT SYSTEMS


While early carousel systems were primarily picking systems, there are now several
carousel systems that are used entirely as put systems. The same carousel equipment
used in reverse can become an order-accumulation or put system.
In the put scenario, the bins on the carousel each represent a store or customer-
order. SKUs come to the carousel operator, and the operator scans the bar code to
indicate the particular SKU that is present. The carousel controller then indexes the
carousel so that each customer or store carton with a requirement for that SKU
comes into position and the SKU can be placed in the carton.
The indicator lights and displays show the operator the quantity for each order
and which order containers get the SKU. The system software is different from that
of a put system but works with the same hardware. The system gets all the order
input data from a host order system or WMS.

PICK-TO-LIGHT AND PICK-TO-DISPLAY SYSTEMS


System Characteristics

Pick-to-light and pick-to-display systems are typically attached to a carton flow rack,
but can be put on static shelving, pallet flow lanes, or pallet racks. Pick-to-light
systems are usually pick-and-pass, where each picker works in a zone, picks only
a portion of the order, and passes the order tote or carton to the picker in the next zone.
A zone consists of one or more bays of carton flow racks or bin shelving units.
A pick line can have one or more zones. The number of bays per zone can vary on
the same pick line, based on the order profile for the shift. The number of bays per
zone should roughly balance the number of picks in each zone. Therefore, one zone
could have a single bay, while the next zone could have four bays.
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Order-Fulfillment Systems 133

A carton flow rack can be laid out in a straight line, in U-shaped cells, or in a
cross-aisle arrangement. The product profile and order type dictate the type of
arrangement. Some systems are laid out with a fixed number of bays per zone, while
others have a variable number of bays per zone depending on the order profiles and
the number of available pickers for the shift.
Most pick lines have conveyors for the order cartons or totes. These can run
down a center aisle between two pick lines or can be attached by brackets to the
carton flow rack itself. Center aisle conveyor systems typically have a three-conveyor
arrangement. The center conveyor is a powered take-away conveyor, while the
conveyors on either side are gravity conveyors. The pickers pull the carton or tote
along the gravity conveyor while picking the order and push the order off onto the
powered center conveyor when the order is complete.
Some center-aisle conveyor systems route order containers to a specific zone or
pick line. These systems divert the containers onto the gravity conveyor for the zone.
When the order filler has competed the picks in the zone, he or she pushes the
container back onto the powered conveyor line which, in turn, routes the container
to the next zone with the picks for the order. This type of system has a warehouse
control system that monitors the location of each active order container. The mon-
itoring and routing are done using a bar-coded label on the container or a permanent-
tote identification number. Some of these systems have intricate interfaces between
the conveyor control system and the picking system controller to track accurately
the location and remaining picks for an order.

Equipment

Early pick-to-light systems had only a small light bulb in front of each SKU. The
pick quantity was shown on a bay display. These systems could only display one
pick at a time. This limited picker productivity.
Most pick-to-light manufacturers have supplanted this type of system with one
that has a light and a digital display of the pick quantity in front of each SKU. Such
systems are known as pick-to-display systems. Some display all the picks in the
zone simultaneously, making the pickers much more productive. While the cost per
SKU is somewhat higher than in pick-to-light systems, increased productivity makes
up the difference.
Each SKU has a display unit at the front of the SKU lane (Figure 3.17). These
displays are connected to a system controller. The system controller is connected to
a host order system or WMS. In addition to the SKU display unit, there is typically
a bay display unit and a bay lamp (Figure 3.18). The system may have bar-code
scanners and other specialty function buttons or controls, depending on the specifi-
cations of the system and its function.
Other equipment can be added to a pick-to-display system for specific function-
ality as required by the application. Scanners can be used to capture the serial
numbers of high-value items for tracking. Traffic lights can be added so that a
supervisor can see how the orders are flowing through the system and add a floater
to a zone that is temporarily bottlenecking the pick line.
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134 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

FIGURE 3.17 A pick module. (From Kingway Materials Handling, Acworth, GA. With
permission.)

FIGURE 3.18 A bay display and bay lamp. (From Kingway Materials Handling, Acworth,
GA. With permission.)

The pick-to-display system (Figure 3.19) can interface with other distribution
center systems, either directly or through the WMS. With the widespread use of
local area networks, interface with other systems by means of file transfer protocols
is very straightforward. Feedback to the host system is in real time. Pickers can
short SKUs at the pick face and generate replenishment actions via the WMS.
Depending on the capabilities of the WMS, a pick-to-display system can send
signals or data to other devices, such as conveyor diverts, conveyor drive motors,
check weighing systems, or package manifesting systems.
The system can track order-picker productivity and compare the rates of pickers
to a predetermined standard. The system will report lines and items picked and
compute an hourly rate for each zone where the picker worked. These reports leave
little room for doubt as to the work performed and the productivity of the workforce.
System software can also cube the order to determine the number of cartons
required, if the WMS does not have this capability. It can also direct the printing of
carton shipping labels.

System Operations

Orders for the pick-to-display system come from an order-processing computer or


a WMS. They can be processed in batches or waves, depending on delivery schedules
or truck routes. When the processing is complete, orders are transmitted to the pick-
to-display controller. The WMS can assign orders a priority or a status. The priority
can be high, medium, or low. Status determines whether the orders are put into the
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Order-Fulfillment Systems 135

FIGURE 3.19 A pick-to-display pick line. (From Kingway Materials Handling, Acworth,
GA. With permission.)

order queue for immediate picking or on hold status for release at a later time, as
determined by operational requirements.
Orders can be picked in a FIFO sequence as determined by the order download.
If the order cartons arrive at the pick-to-display system in a sequence other than
FIFO, the orders will be picked in a random sequence. This type of order release
requires a bar-code label on the order container and a scanner to tell the controller
that the order is available for picking. Once the order is scan-inducted onto the pick
line, it remains in the scan order sequence.
When an order is presented for picking, a beacon lights up and a digital display
indicates the quantity in front of each SKU for the order, within the assigned work
area or pick zone (Figure 3.16). A bay display gives the picker other information
such as the order number, the batch or route code, and an instruction. A bay beacon
or light above each bay helps lead the picker to the bays with the picks. With all
the picks displayed in the zone, the picker can choose how to pick them for optimum
efficiency. The picker confirms each pick by pressing the response button on the
pick-display unit when the pick is completed. When all picks within the zone are
complete for the respective order, the system tells the picker that the order is complete
or that it should be passed to the next zone for more picks.
There are different ways for the completed order to exit the pick line. If the pick
line has only a single gravity conveyor, all the orders will stay in the pick-order
sequence and will not exit until the end of the line. If there is a gravity conveyor
for picking and a powered take-away conveyor, the completed order can be pushed
off onto the powered conveyor when it is completed. This is called early exit.
The above discussion assumes that the pick line is a continuous line. Other
pick-to-display systems work in tandem with a warehouse control system that routes
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136 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

orders only to the zones required for the picks in the order. These systems treat
each zone as a logical or virtual pick line. The order containers circulate on a
conveyor and are routed only to the zones for the picks. The conveyor system
dynamically balances the orders on the pick lines by letting the orders circulate if
the divert zone is full of order containers. The picker scans the bar code on the
container to pick the order. When the order is completed, the conveyor routes the
order to the shipping dock.

Other Light-Picking Options

Some manufacturers offer optional equipment for picking SKUs with lower picking
velocities, such as single display units with multicharacter displays that show both
the location and the quantity to pick.
Alternative pick-method lights can be used in varying densities, depending on
the velocity of the product being picked. For a very slow set of SKUs, one multi-
character display can be used for several bin-shelving sections. A six-character
display can designate the bin unit, the shelf, the location on the shelf, and the quantity
to pick. Systems with several hundred SKUs and one display per bin shelving aisle
can put all picks on a single system for a few dollars per SKU.
Other displays can also be used at a level that tailors the velocity and cost per
display to a lower value. Slow- to medium-velocity SKUs may have a single display
per bin shelving unit or carton flow bay. A single four-digit display can accommodate
several pick locations with an alphanumeric location scheme. For example, a number
and letter combination such as 3D would indicate a location on the third shelf (3)
in the fourth location on that shelf (D).
The same display can be used for moderate-velocity SKUs, which still would
not meet the criterion for a one-to-one ratio of SKU to light. In this instance, there
might be one display per shelf, and the display would only indicate the specific lane
on that shelf to pick, or the displays might all be on the same shelf and might indicate
the column of the pick. This method may be preferred because all the displays could
be put at eye level, so pickers would be less likely to miss a pick.
Each of these methods should be thoroughly studied and analyzed with specific
data for the situation to determine the best display-to-SKU ratio.

Integrated Displays or Composite Systems

All of these display methods could be and have been used in combination to produce
cost-effective, highly productive systems. Typically, product velocities follow the
Paretos law. That is, 80% of the velocity comes from 20% of the SKUs, which
SKUs should be on a one-to-one ratio of pick display to SKU. The next velocity
tier of SKUs can follow the ratio of one display per shelf or one display per shelving
bay. The final velocity tier can be on a one-display-per-aisle basis. The layouts of
these combination light systems are as varied as the distribution operations that use
them. Each is highly tailored to the specific circumstances of the product type and
the distribution scenario. Figure 3.2 shows a layout of such a composite pick line.
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Order-Fulfillment Systems 137

PUT-TO-DISPLAY SYSTEMS
System Characteristics

Pick-to-display hardware can be run with different software to turn the system into
a put system, much as a carousel pick system can become a carousel put system.
The put system is used when the product profile and customer profile are the inverse
of the pick system. The product profile is similar to the tilt-tray sorter product profile.
The number of SKUs is very large, with low activity levels for each SKU. Rather
than putting a display in front of each one of several thousand SKUs, the put system
has a display for each shipping destination or customer processed in a wave. For
example, the distribution center could have 15,000 SKUs. Each of the SKUs has
only a few picks per day. The number of put locations is based on the number of
stores or customers being processed per wave or batch. There could be a few hundred
displays, one in front of each shipping location in a wave. In the above example,
there could be 1000 stores or ship points processed in four waves of 250 stores each.
Individual SKUs are brought to the shipping location boxes or totes. Operators
scan the SKU master carton or tote to identify the SKU to the put system. The put
system lights up a beacon and a quantity display for each shipping carton that needs
some of that SKU for an order. When all the items for the order have been placed
in the shipping carton, the order is complete and the system will indicate that it is
time to push the carton onto the take-away conveyor.
There are different methods for handling orders that require more than one
shipping carton or tote. One is a single slot on the put system for each store or
customer. This slot can be fixed or dynamically assigned. Before the wave or batch
starts, the operator goes through a slot-to-order-assignment procedure that typically
involves scanning the slot and carton bar code in a specific sequence. This tells the
put system controller which order is in which location. The order file download from
the WMS or order processing system to the put system controller tells the system
what SKUs go in each carton.
Just as a picker has a specific zone to pick, the individual operators of a put
system have zones to work. The zones will have a set number of stores or customers
that have been deemed to have a sufficient amount of work to warrant an assigned
operator. The put locations may be a continuous single line of order cartons or totes,
or there could be multiple levels. The exact layout will be dictated by the number
of customers or stores per wave and the size of the shipping cartons. The overall
objective is to have a zone with enough work for a single operator, which minimizes
the amount of walking between put operations.
The put system can tell the operator when a shipping carton is full or complete,
or the operator can tell the system controller that the carton is full. In the former
case, the system will have a flashing light or text message sent to the operator to
inform him or her that it is time to push the carton off onto the take-away conveyor.
In the latter case, the operator initiates a close carton or box full procedure to tell
the system that the carton is full. If there are more items needed to complete the
order, the system will have the operator erect another carton for the customer, attach
a bar-coded label, and scan the label and slot bar code to assign the label to the
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138 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

order slot. If the order for that store or customer is complete, and the system is based
on dynamic customer assignments, the operator may get another customer box and
label to assign to the slot. In a batch or wave system, the slot typically will remain
empty until all the orders in the batch are completed and a new wave is started.

System Operations

A put system is like the tilt-tray or cross-belt sorter operation. Rather than a single-
pick process, where a SKU is picked directly to a shipping container, the put
operation is a two-step process. The first step is picking which full-case containers
will enter the put system. The second step is removing the SKUs from the container
and putting them into the correct shipping container.

COMPLEX PICKING SYSTEMS


Some distribution operations have a varied product mix and use a combination of
the above systems. In this type of operation, the WMS or host order management
system must be able to work with different picking methods, and must sort orders
or SKUs for the same order by picking method. In this scenario, the distribution
center must have a method for consolidating SKUs from various picking methods
into a single shipping carton or tote.
Some distribution centers handle multiple picking methods by having a pick-
pack operation. Here, the SKUs in each picking method area are picked into a tote
that is conveyed to a packing station. Each tote has a license plate or label that links
the tote to a specific customer or order. The warehouse control system tracks the
totes and sends them all to the same packing station. A packer then packs the contents
from several totes into a single shipping carton that goes to the customer.
The alternative is to pick directly into the shipping carton. While this eliminates
the cost of a separate packing operation, it may greatly increase the complexity of
the conveyor system and the controls needed to route the shipping carton to the
picking locations. There are many variables to consider when choosing which oper-
ation is best. Overall cost of each alternative is one of the chief considerations. Space
requirements for each picking operation, and the flexibility of various picking meth-
ods are two other important considerations. Other considerations include special
handling requirements, high-value item tracking and confirmation, security require-
ments, and order-accuracy requirements.
Some operations prefer the pick-pack method simply because it results in higher
order accuracy. Rather than only one picker touching the item, the packer, who also
touches it, may catch a picker error and prevent the error from reaching the customer.
Other operations use the pick-pack method to scan high-value items at the packing
station in order to track serial numbers and to verify that an item went into the
shipping carton.
Other distribution centers have opted for the more efficient method of picking
to the shipping carton. These centers may also have high-value tracking requirements
and order-accuracy levels that need to be met. They use scanners on the pick line
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Order-Fulfillment Systems 139

to capture serial numbers and verify pick completion. They may also use check
weighing as a final order-accuracy check before the carton leaves the building.

CHECK WEIGHING
Check weighing is used by many distribution operations for order-accuracy verifi-
cation. The WMS product database contains a standard weight for each SKU. From
individual weights, the system calculates the total weight of the order, including the
shipping carton. An in-line scale captures the weight of the completed order and
carton as it passes down the conveyor and before the order leaves the picking area.
The actual weight is compared to the predicted weight, and if the completed order
falls outside a set tolerance, the conveyor diverts the order to a conveyor spur for
further checking.

SUMMARY
There are many automated or semiautomated picking methods available. Each has
its strengths and weaknesses. Each is better suited to some types of SKUs and fits
some operations better than others. Before settling on one type, review the charac-
teristics of each and compare their strengths with the operation at hand. Split-case
order-fulfillment can be one of the most labor-intensive operations in a distribution
center. It is also subject to picking errors. Simply automating an operation may not
be the answer. Product variability, size, shape, or weight may eliminate one or more
of the above picking methods from consideration. There are many tales of highly-
automated picking operations being installed and then taken out of service soon
after installation because the entire operation was not properly analyzed.
Part of the selection criteria should be an economic analysis that compares the
payback and return on investment of each competing solution. While volumes have
been written on how to perform this analysis, it should be noted that it is not the
systems price that makes the difference; it is how much the system will pay back
the operation in the long run. It is possible that the highest-priced system may result
in the lowest costs, and will therefore be the best economic decision for the long-
term financial health of the company. Likewise, the cheapest solution in terms of
initial price may turn out to be the most costly.
Good data on order, customer, and SKU profiles are an essential part of the
economic analysis. These should be analyzed along with the current productivity
and order-accuracy rates. If order accuracy is an issue, try to determine the cost of
an error.
What does the company do when a customer reports an error in a shipment?
There are often people in a customer service department who handle complaints.
Is the distribution centers order accuracy so poor that a picking error is automati-
cally assumed? What about the cost of shipping the replacement item to the cus-
tomer? Is the replacement item shipped overnight? What about returning an incorrect
item? It is the authors experience that many companies do not have a good handle
on the true direct cost of a picking error. Before undergoing some picking method
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140 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

improvement, many companies have not contested customer complaints regarding


order accuracy.
After implementing a picking technology, these same companies have verified
their order accuracy with random audits or other means. Their documented order
accuracy now exceeds 99.9%. In terms of customer satisfaction to your company,
what is that kind of accuracy worth?
Tie these order-accuracy improvements to productivity gains of 30 to 45%, and
an order-fulfillment operation can become a competitive advantage for gaining
market share and improving profitability.
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4 Garment-on-Hanger
Order-Fulfillment
Operations

INTRODUCTION
In a customer-order-fulfillment industry that includes small items, garments on
hangers (GOH), cartons, and pallets, the second most complex order-fulfillment
operation is the GOH operation. In the customer-order-fulfillment industry, the other
terms used to designate GOH include hanging garments and rags.
Unique GOH characteristics include the following:

Dimensions: 27 inches wide, up to 5 or 6 feet long for longer GOH pieces,


1 inch deep on a load bar or rail for winter GOH pieces, and 1/4 inch deep
for summer GOH pieces
Requires space for a travel path or storage location
Fragile, easily wrinkled, or crushable
Many stock-keeping units (SKUs) for one garment style
Seasonal rotation
Large single SKU quantities are received and sent as single items to
complete the customer-order
When compared to other products, the GOH group has a higher customer-
order return rate
In the catalog, e-mail, and direct mail industries, customer orders are
combined with products from another order-fulfillment section

With increasing customer-delivery cost and market growth in this competitive indus-
try, the ability to combine a GOH customer-order with other items is increasing.
These factors increase the requirement for a dynamically designed GOH order-
fulfillment operation and facility.
The main objective of this chapter is to identify and evaluate the various GOH
order-fulfillment design parameters, operational characteristics, and considerations.
Awareness and understanding of design considerations, characteristics, and param-
eters are the key factors in making your GOH operation more cost effective and
more efficient. The design should also satisfy the proposed minimum service stan-
dard for present and future customers. Operational characteristics apply to the

141
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142 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

remodeling of an existing GOH operation or a new manual, mechanized, or auto-


mated GOH operation design.
This chapter will also review the various manual and mechanized storage and
order pick methods and design parameters, the many manual order-picker routing
patterns, facility and pick-area equipment and layouts, and the activities required to
ensure an efficient and on-time GOH piece and customer-order flow through a GOH
order-fulfillment facility.
The chapter sections are (1) pick-area design and operational factors and facility
design parameters, and (2) GOH pieces or customer-order flow design. The second
section looks at manual or mechanized pick-area activities and includes a review of
several order-fulfillment pick-area layouts and functional specifications and drawings.

HANGING GARMENT OR GOH ITEM


A hanging garment or GOH item is an individual piece of clothing that is supported
by a wood, metal, or plastic hanger. The hanger has an open hook or face and two
arms. The open hook is attached to the load bar or device on the GOH transportation
path. The characteristics and size of GOH pieces range from thick and heavy long
winter coats to thin, lightweight summer shorts and shirts.

BASE OPERATIONAL DATA AND


PICK-AREA INFORMATION
The first steps to designing a new GOH operation or facility, or remodeling an
existing one, are to collect, review, evaluate, project, and approve the present and
proposed GOH piece and customer-order volumes, the SKU quantity and charac-
teristics, and all other operational parameters for each order-fulfillment activity.
Other operational design parameters are related to customer-order profiles. This
includes the average, median, and maximum values for the following: (1) the
number of orders per day, (2) the number of pieces per order, (3) the number of
shipping containers per order, (4) the number of pieces per container, and (5) the
container size.
Another important order characteristic is the order mix that includes types of
SKUs which is length, width, height and weight, family group or pairs, value and
velocity for one year. What is the hit density, or SKUs per line on a customer-order?
What is the average hit concentration, or lines per customer-order? Also, take into
consideration your present in-house transport conveyor or vehicle travel speeds.
What are the present order-shipping methods and container sizes? Determine the
Information Management System (IMS) customer-order processing and IMS down-
load times. Customer-order priority, customer service time, and customer-order and
delivery cycle time are important. The SKU profile or slotting of the pick line, the
proposed pick-line conveyor layout, and all required activities should be determined.
Look at the proposed pick-area block; plan-view; and detail-view drawings, which
should include all order-fulfillment activities; and, finally, at the average height of
your order-fulfillment employees.
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Garment-on-Hanger Order-Fulfillment Operations 143

The completion of this data collection and analysis step ensures that the proposed
GOH pick-area layout is designed to handle the projected customer-order volume,
GOH pieces per customer-order and total daily volume, and customer-order shipping
container volume. These features ensure a cost-effective and efficient GOH order-
fulfillment operation that provides the lowest operational cost and accurate, on-time
customer service.

PEAK, AVERAGE, AND MOST FREQUENT GOH OR


CUSTOMER-ORDER VOLUMES
When we review the monthly figures that are used to project a companys GOH
order-fulfillment operations, the three important volumes are the GOH volumes,
lines per order, and SKUs per line; these represent the potential GOH pieces in your
customer orders. An employee picks the GOH pieces. Your order-picker productivity
determines the number of employees in a pick area or pack area, and the customer-
order number represents the potential number of customer-shipping cartons that will
flow over your pack area.
A GOH order-fulfillment operation that has an increase in the number of GOH
pieces handled by the pick activity (i.e., the number of pieces per customer-order),
with no increase in the number of customer orders, has the potential to result in
greater employee productivity. A GOH operation where the number of GOH pieces
handled by the pick activity remains constant, but the number of customer orders
increases (i.e., there is a decrease in the number of GOH pieces per customer-order),
has the potential to result in lower employee productivity.
The peak, average, and median monthly volumes of GOH pieces and customer
orders are used to project your GOH operations future piece and customer-order
volumes. Future GOH piece and customer-order volumes are based on the GOH
pieces and customer orders that were handled by your companys GOH order-
fulfillment operations for a specific time period. This time period can be a day, a
week, a month, or a year. Future GOH piece and customer-order volumes are based,
as previously mentioned, on past GOH piece and customer-order volumes, and on
your companys anticipated growth rate in GOH orders. Future GOH piece and
customer-order volumes determine your future GOH operation design and the result-
ing operational factors. These factors include projecting or scheduling the labor
quantity and equipment that are required to handle a projected GOH order volume;
the annual and other operational expenses for the operating budget of your com-
panys GOH operation; and the potential labor quantity, labor costs, labor savings,
and other associated operational expenses that are the economic justification for a
capital request.

PEAK, AVERAGE, AND MOST FREQUENT GOH PIECE OR CUSTOMER-ORDER


VOLUMES
The first set of a GOH operations piece and customer-order volumes are the peak
volumes. The peak GOH piece and customer-order volumes are the highest volumes
that are handled by an operation in a specific time period.
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144 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

FIGURE 4.1 GOH garment processing area. (From Railex Corporation, Queens, NY. With
permission.)

The second set of volumes to consider are the average GOH piece and customer-
order volumes. Average volumes are calculated by dividing the total orders or the
piece count by the total time period. This customer-order volume can be for a day,
a week, a month, or a year.
The third set of volumes to consider are the most frequently occurring or mode
volumes. The modal value of GOH piece or customer volumes for a given time
period is that which occurs or repeats most frequently.

FACILITY DESIGN INFORMATION AND


CONSIDERATIONS
The second step is to complete the various facility design information and operations
department assessments as illustrated by Figure 4.1 to Figure 4.3. The factors
involved in planning a new building include the following:

Size and shape of the site location and characteristics of the access road
Required square footage, derived from the projected storage inventory,
pick line design, required number of pick positions, and other required
pick-line function space requirements
Soil condition and ability to support the imposed dynamic and static build-
ing loads, the greatest of which are the storage and pick-line area loads
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Garment-on-Hanger Order-Fulfillment Operations 145

FIGURE 4.2 GOH merge. (From Railex Corporation, Queens, NY. With permission.)

FIGURE 4.3 Examples of GOH induction and discharge stations. (From Railex Corporation,
Queens, NY. With permission.)

Local building codes and restrictions, as well as seismic, wind, rain, and
snow loads
Available funds
The number of female and male employees per shift, along with employee,
vendor, and customer delivery truck parking requirements
Average and peak delivery vendor and customer delivery truck dock
requirements
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146 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Required electrical and other utility requirements


Fire protection and emergency exit requirements

Several other facility design and operational considerations are also important.
These include the building shape and its expansion capability. Included in the
building height and floor area are the slope of the vertical travel path and the length
run-outs for GOH pieces. The in-house transport method may require a pit in the
finished floor, along with personnel protection along the pit perimeter and a fire
wall, an elevated wall, or floor penetration. Safety features include fire protection,
employee emergency exits, and the required walkways for each exit. Lighting fixtures
must be at 30 inches above the floor; lighting fixtures should be turned on and off
by activity sensors; and the various lighting levels for each activity workstation on
a manual, mechanized, or automatic pick line must be determined. When pits are
installed in the floor, and are not being used in connection with in-house transport,
the pits are covered with hardened metal structural members and plates to support
employee or vehicle traffic.
Also important are rubber mats on the floor at each employee activity station
and on the pick line, and ceiling fans or floor-level fans to circulate the air. This is
a consideration for each level of a multiple-floor facility. In high-humidity areas,
good air circulation improves employee comfort and minimizes moisture buildup
on the floor.
An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) provides sufficient electric power to
prevent a computer crash during a power outage, and permits the facility to operate
pick-line electrical equipment for a short period of time. This time period is depen-
dent on the UPS specifications. A UPS can also help avoid damage to equipment
caused by power spikes during electrical storms. Other UPS considerations include
the types of systems that are connected to specific electrical equipment, the period
of time to operate on battery power, and the availability and capacity of a standby
generator. Most UPS systems are designed to protect computer and other sensitive
electronic components. They automatically pick up the load when the primary
electrical source is interrupted.
Factors relating to communication include the communication method, the choice
of radio frequency (RF) or hard wire, capacity, and distance. With RF, the frequency
band is approved by the local and federal governments, and a site survey should be
done to determine whether there is interference in the building and what number of
repeater stations are needed for full coverage. With a hard-wire communication over
a long distance, the system may require shielded cable or short-haul modems to
ensure good communication. Hard-wire communication between two computers may
also require isolated electrical power, electric spike protection, low-voltage protec-
tion, an electrical power filter to reduce undesired noise on the power line, and a
dedicated communication line between the computers. Most new facilities today have
a local area network that can connect a variety of computer systems together and
greatly facilitate communications. The number and types of computer transactions
can also dictate the types of transmission protocols used. The specific communication
demands of the system should be reviewed with a computer professional.
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Garment-on-Hanger Order-Fulfillment Operations 147

The objectives of facility and system design are to minimize the travel distance
and time between two locations, and to require the fewest handlings for GOH pieces
and customer orders. Good facility and system design will also minimize potential
equipment damage and personnel injury, and ensure that the maximum product or
order-quantity output is delivered accurately and on schedule.

SKU LOCATION ON THE PICK LINE OR IN THE


PICK AISLE
The next GOH pick-line design issue is the SKUs physical location on the pick
line. This is also known as product profiling or slotting. The SKU location along
the pick-line or pick-position sequence is decided by means of certain guidelines,
whether the GOH pick activity is manual or mechanized. Pick-position guidelines
are based on SKU physical characteristics: length, width, and depth; seasonality;
SKU velocity; value; special storage requirements; and family groupings. In most
GOH pick applications, seasonal SKUs are located at the start of the pick line. In
most pick-line applications, the fast-moving SKUs are located at the start of the pick
line, medium-moving SKUs are located in the middle of the pick line, and slow-
moving SKUs are located at the end or on the elevated rails of the pick line. In most
pick areas, the longer SKUs are located in one area and the shorter SKUs are located
in another area. In most GOH pick operations, high-value SKUs are allocated to a
pick position that has controlled access to the pick area, or to a pick position that
has a security camera. Other SKUs may require specific environmental storage
conditions, such as leather goods and furs, which require a low-humidity area.
Some pick-line applications have SKUs allocated to the pick line by family
group. This philosophy has SKUs with similar characteristics located in sequential
pick positions on the pick line. For example, SKU A is nearly always ordered along
with SKUs B and C. Sometimes this pick-line arrangement is referred to as the kit
philosophy. Some examples of family groups include those where the relevant SKUs
are located in the same retail aisle, such as dresses and shirts that have one color
with various sizes; SKUs picked for a specific customer group, as with a centralized
order-fulfillment facility servicing several countries with different languages; pants
that match a jacket; and SKUs that require a controlled environment.
Historical SKU movement data can be used to determine candidates for bulk
pick and transport to special pack stations. These SKUs can be stored separately or
in a different way than the same SKUs when shipped in an each quantity.
Most pick-line professionals consider the golden zone to be the preferred
manual pick-position location for both short and long SKUs. The golden zone has
an elevation range from a low elevation of 34 inches high above the floor for short
garments to a high elevation of 70 inches for long garments. In most countries, given
the average pick employee height, the golden zone is one to two short GOH pick
levels or one long GOH pick level high. To reach a height of two or three GOH
pick levels, there are two options. First, the GOH floor pick area can have cavities
in specific areas. The cavities permit lower-level GOH items to hang below the floor.
As required by code, these cavities have a wire-mesh or solid bottom and four sides
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148 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

with structural-support members. Second, the order pickers can use a ladder, a high-
rise order pick vehicle, or a pole with a hook to complete a storage and pick
transaction at an elevated level. Prior to the final design of a pick line, golden-zone
pick positions are finalized as design parameters.
The next SKU-allocation consideration is the pick-line profile. The pick-line
profile is used to allocate each SKU to a position on the pick line, according to one
of the previously mentioned methods. The final considerations are the pick-position
type and pick-position identification. These factors affect employee productivity and
accuracy. The various pick-position types and pick-position identification methods
are reviewed later in the chapter.

GOH SKU ALLOCATION OR PROFILE METHODS


The GOH product allocation or profile determines each SKUs position in the storage
and pick area, zone, or aisle. The selected GOH profile methods objective is to
improve storage density, rail utilization, and employee productivity.
The allocation options for a manual storage and pick operation are: random or
mixed method, separation by length, and separation by season and by the length of
the GOH.

RANDOM OR MIXED METHOD


The first GOH allocation method is the random- or mixed-SKU method. Any
short, long, or seasonal GOH piece is placed onto any static storage and pick rail
or dynamic pick position. For example, picking GOH fall season SKUs and walking
past GOH summer season SKUs without picking any garments creates low employee
productivity due to increased travel distance and time required to complete a trans-
action. Random allocation requires various top-of-rail heights in one storage and
pick aisle, and has the potential for low rail utilization.

SEPARATION BY LENGTH
The second GOH allocation method is to separate pieces by length. This method
allocates pieces to a storage and pick-rail or dynamic-moving pick position according
to whether they are short or long. The method requires that specific GOH storage
and pick zones have a top-of-rail height sufficient to handle long GOH pieces. A
second series of GOH storage and pick zones must have a top-of-rail height sufficient
to handle short GOH pieces. If there is an inventory overage of short GOH pieces
and a shortage of long GOH pieces, the short GOH pieces can occupy a long GOH
rail position.
For a particular GOH length put-away or pick transaction, there is good employee
productivity using this method due to a decrease in travel distance and fewer
employee trips past positions that have no put-away or pick transactions. A long
GOH piece is directed to a long GOH piece storage position and a short GOH piece
is directed to a short GOH piece storage position. (If necessary, short GOH pieces
can be placed in long-piece positions.) This requires that the tops of rails have two
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dimensions to match the projected inventory requirement. The method provides for
high GOH rail utilization.

SEPARATION BY SEASON AND GOH LENGTH


The third GOH allocation method is a hybrid. The manual storage and pick static
rail is separated into four zones. Each zone handles the projected GOH inventory
for summer, fall, winter, or spring. Within each inventory area, the static storage and
pick-rail or dynamic pick position is subdivided into short and long sections.
The features of this method are the same as for the short and long GOH piece
method except that, due to variations in the seasonal demand for GOH pieces, there
is improved employee productivity.

PICK-AREA DESIGN
The next major step in designing a GOH order-fulfillment facility is the development
of the pick line. Pick area development requires the design team to fit the pick line
or pick aisle, GOH piece, and customer-order flow patterns into an existing facility.
It can also require the team to design a facilitys four walls; building columns;
column spans; and roof around the pick line or pick aisle, GOH piece, and customer-
order flow patterns.
When we compare the two design approaches, it becomes clear that fitting a
pick line into an existing facility is a more difficult task because the design constraints
of the buildings columns, column spans, walls, and roof.
The various steps required to complete pick-line development are to project the
design year SKU number by short- or long-length GOH, inventory quantity, cus-
tomer-order volume, and GOH piece and customer-order flow patterns. Next, review
the various GOH pick methods and select a method. Identify the building column
clear span, column size, and clear ceiling height; locate the passageways through
walls and finished floors; and identify the various utility locations and the light
fixture pattern. Use block drawings to refine the pick-line layout, the GOH piece
and customer-order flow patterns, and other building items. Then, develop and
finalize the building and pick-line drawings. Another important step is to complete
a simulation that is based on GOH piece and customer-order flow patterns and
volumes. The final building layout and pick-line layout drawings must also comply
with local codes and company policies.
The project is now ready for the bid process. Select the preferred vendor or
vendors and develop building construction, remodeling, or pick-line installation
plans and schedules. Vendors should install, test, and debug all building and pick-
line equipment, and complete a building and pick-line punch list for turning the
building and pick line over to operations.

BUILDING CONSIDERATIONS
Building shape and finished floor-to-clear-ceiling height are factors to be considered
in the design of a GOH order-fulfillment facility. They influence the layout.
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150 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

BUILDING SHAPE
The shape of the facility has an impact on equipment arrangement, GOH flow, and
future expansion capabilities.

Square Buildings

Square buildings provide the best balance between the wall area and the finished
floor area. Square buildings have a low wall area to finished floor space ratio. They
create an efficient structure for internal GOH transport from the receiving area to
the storage and pick and pack area. Square buildings require a good balance between
the SKU number and the GOH storage and pick-position number. This is considered
a good facility shape for GOH storage. It is normal, as an order-fulfillment operation
expands, to expand from a square building to a rectangular building.

L-Shaped Buildings
In an L-shaped order-fulfillment facility, the receiving and shipping docks are located
at the base, with the order-fulfillment activities in the stem. This building shape
necessitates an increase in the cost of transporting GOH SKUs between the dock
areas and the other order-fulfillment activity locations. The L-shaped building is best
for a processing facility with an attached order-fulfillment facility.

Rectangular Buildings

Rectangular buildings provide an increase in the wall square footage to floor square
footage ratio. The rectangle shape provides additional wall space for an increased
number of dock doors. This large wall area permits efficient internal transport of
GOH SKUs from the dock area to all storage pick and pack areas within the facility.
The shape allows the facility to handle an inventory storage requirement that includes
any SKU mix or SKU number. It is an excellent shape for an order-fulfillment facility
that provides service to catalog, direct mail, E-commerce, and retail store customers.
As business increases, facility expansion occurs at the short walls.

U-Shaped Buildings

In a U-shaped order-fulfillment facility, the shipping functions are located in one


leg of the U and the receiving activities are located in the other. Storage, order-
fulfillment, and other activities are located in the remaining area at the base of the
U. A U-shaped building increases GOH transport activity.

Rectangular Buildings (Oversized)

An oversized rectangular building has the maximum proportion of wall square


footage to finished floor square footage. This provides the most direct transport path
from the receiving docks to the other order-fulfillment activity locations. The over-
sized rectangular building allows an operation to handle an across-the-dock GOH
piece flow pattern.
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Triangular Buildings

In a triangular facility, receiving and shipping activities are located on the triangle
base, and other key order-fulfillment and support activities are on the legs. With the
two legs connected at the tip, the triangle shape does not provide the maximum
space utilization for square or rectangular GOH pieces and GOH shipping units.

BUILDING HEIGHT
The next consideration is building height. Building height is the open space from
the floor to the bottom of the structural-support member on the ceiling. In many
buildings, height is sufficient to permit the constructing of additional floor elevations.
Building height factors include economics; available land; shadow laws; local and
occupancy codes; land conditions; and seismic, wind, rain, and snow loads.
Today, most buildings are classified as high bay, medium bay, or low bay. A
high-bay building has a roof at least 40 feet above ground level. Some automated
storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) facilities are 60 to 80 feet high. These buildings
may be rack supported or conventionally supported, and may have several floor
levels and one or two equipment-supported or freestanding mezzanines.
A medium-bay building is 30 to 40 feet high. With minimal fire sprinklers and
fire-protected columns, a mezzanine is allowed.
A low-bay building is no more than 30 feet high, with sufficient height for an
equipment-supported or freestanding mezzanine.

PICK-LINE OR PICK-AISLE DESIGN


The next major step in designing a GOH order-fulfillment facility is pick-line
development. The pick line and the GOH piece and customer-order flow patterns
may be adapted to an existing facility, or a facility may be designed around the pick
line and the GOH piece and customer-order flow patterns.
To fit a pick line into an existing facility is more difficult, due to the existing
buildings columns, column spans, and walls, which act as design constraints.

GOH PIECE AND CUSTOMER-ORDER FLOW


The next set of design parameters focuses on flow patterns through the facility,
various required pick activities, and pick-line design considerations.
The first consideration is the GOH piece flow pattern. The GOH piece flow
pattern runs from the receiving dock and quality assurance (QA) through value-
added activities and the storage and pick/pack area to the shipping area.
As GOH pieces flow through the pick area, per the customer-order an order
picker withdraws the required mixed pieces. These customer orders are collected
onto an overhead trolley or GOH cart load bar. All completed customer orders on
these transport devices are transferred to a take-away travel path.
The GOH piece flow pattern corresponds to the store and hold method. The
various GOH pieces flow patterns are (1) horizontal one-way or straight flow; (2)
horizontal two-way, with a U- or W-shaped flow; and (3) vertical up-and-down flow.
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152 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Horizontal One-Way Flow Pattern

The horizontal one-way or straight flow pattern is referred to as in one side and
out the other. In the horizontal one-way flow pattern, GOH pieces enter the facility
from one side and exit the facility as customer orders on the opposite side. On one
side, the GOH operation receives SKUs and, with mobile or fixed in-house transport
equipment, the GOH pieces are moved through the various valued-added activities
and pick lines to the buildings other side. On the buildings other side, the customer
orders are either packed in cartons or hung on a cart, box, or rope loop for delivery
to the customer. This flow pattern requires that the GOH pieces travel the entire
length of the facility from the receiving docks to the shipping docks. This is a
conventional facility design with a vendor delivery truck yard on one side of the
building and a customer delivery truck yard on the other side. This additional truck
yard does not optimize site utilization, but to utilize the air space a facility may be
designed with elevated floors. One-way GOH piece and customer-order flow pat-
terns are best for a GOH operation that handles across-the-dock GOH pieces or
customer orders.

Horizontal Two-Way Flow Pattern

In a horizontal two-way flow pattern, the GOH pieces enter a facility from one side
and exit as customer orders on the same side. A horizontal two-way flow pattern
provides a good flow for a GOH order-fulfillment operation. With the receiving and
shipping docks on one building side, this pattern requires only one roadway and one
truck yard, which improves site utilization.
The horizontal two-way flow pattern requires less truck yard and roadway surface
than a one-way pattern. This feature means that less land is required; a facility can
be designed with or without elevated floors; facility investment costs are lower; and
there is an increased potential for dual cycles, which means a lower per-unit labor cost.
The two horizontal two-way flow patterns are the U-shaped flow pattern and the
W-shaped flow pattern.
U-Shaped Flow Pattern
The first horizontal two-way flow pattern is the U-shaped flow pattern. In this pattern,
vendor GOH pieces are received on the facilitys right side and transported to various
value-added activities and to the storage area and pick area, which are located in
the facilitys middle. A customer-order is shipped on the facilitys left side. If you
trace the flow through the facility, it makes a U pattern.
W-Shaped Flow Pattern
The second horizontal two-way flow pattern is the W-shaped flow pattern (literally
a double U). In this pattern, vendor GOH pieces are received in the buildings
middle and transported to the value-added activities and the storage and pick area
along one of the buildings sides. On the same side, customer orders are shipped
onto a delivery vehicle. The GOH piece and customer-order flow creates a W
pattern.
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Vertical Up-and-Down Flow Pattern

The next flow pattern is the vertical up-and-down pattern. In this pattern, the GOH
pieces are received on the facilitys lower-level floor and transported over a vertical
travel path to the facilitys elevated floor. On the elevated floor or level, the value-
added activities and pick-line activities are sequenced to ensure an efficient and cost-
effective flow across the elevated floor to the decline travel path leading to the lower
floor. On the lower floor, the customer orders are placed in the staging area or loaded
directly onto a customer delivery vehicle.
With the vertical up-and-down flow pattern, the GOH pieces or customer orders
are located either on one side or on opposite sides of the facility. The characteristics
of this pattern are, first, that it has multiple finished floors in the building and a
vendor or customer delivery truck yard on one side of the facility. These features
mean that the facility occupies a small site, which in turn means lower land costs.
Second, this pattern requires elevated floors, which means additional investment in
material handling equipment and transactions. Third, the additional finished floors
mean a slightly higher facility investment for additional light fixtures, stairways, and
fire sprinklers.
If your order-fulfillment operation handles small items, flat wear, and GOH
pieces, all receiving and shipping activities are on the ground-floor level; small-item
and flat wear storage and pick/pack activities are on the first elevated floor; and
GOH storage and pick/pack activities are on the highest elevated floor.

DRAWINGS
GOH order-fulfillment design professionals develop block and plan-view drawings
and list the various value-added activities that are proposed for the facility

Block Drawing

A block drawing shows the GOH piece or customer-order flow pattern. The drawing
shows each order-fulfillment activity. The activities are arranged in the required
sequence. Lines connect two or more operational activities together. These lines
permit the designer to trace the GOH piece and customer-order flows. In addition,
a block drawing shows the square footage that is required for each GOH order-
fulfillment activity and for the total facility, and the various functional areas with
the required fire walls on each floor. The drawing should be easy to understand.

Plan-View Drawing

To understand in detail the GOH piece or customer-order flow through a facility,


a designer develops a plan-view drawing. This detailed drawing is done to scale,
and shows each order-fulfillment activity area. This drawing includes the equip-
ment and all building items. Using a plan-view drawing can help you can under-
stand the relationship between the various order-fulfillment activities and the space
they occupy.
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154 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

LIST OF ACTIVITIES
Next, list and define the various GOH order-fulfillment activities that are performed
by the order-fulfillment operation in order to complete a customer-order. The activity
list ensures that the design team and the operations manager have included all the
order-fulfillment activities required to provide the best customer service at the lowest
possible operational cost.
The various GOH order-fulfillment activities are:

Yard control for vendor delivery trucks or oceangoing containers, assign-


ment of delivery trucks to a receiving dock, and customer delivery truck
spotting at a shipping dock
Receiving, unloading, quantity and quality control, individual GOH packing,
GOH piece identification, price ticketing, and other value-added activities
Internal horizontal and vertical transport between the various GOH order-
fulfillment activities
Warehouse management system (WMS) storage deposit transactions and
inventory control
IMS customer-order processing, cubing, and downloading to the pick area
microcomputer
Transfer of SKUs from the pick position onto a trolley or cart load bar
or a dynamic rail; as required by the pick activity, SKU identification with
a discrete customer code
Sending of batched customer orders that include a mix of SKUs through
the sorting area to the pack station
Manual or automatic discrete identification manifesting
The pack activity, wherein GOH pieces are packed into a carton, hung to
a box or a four-wheel carts load bar, or loaded directly onto a customer
delivery truck
Trash removal from the pick line and from the facility
Handling of customer returns, out-of-season or damaged items, or obsolete
SKUs (including processing, transport, and storage)
Security, risk management, sanitation, and maintenance to ensure ade-
quate performance and the protection of assets and inventory from damage

PICK-LINE OR PICK-AISLE DESIGN PARAMETERS


When designing a manual employee-to-stock or mechanized stock-to-employee pick
line, the design considerations are:

Employee ability to complete a transaction


Trolley, cart, or dynamic-rail path to move GOH pieces over the travel
path; available electric or air power to move the powered chain and trolley;
and the required travel path window
GOH piece pick volume, customer-order volume, and shipping and deliv-
ery vehicle volumes
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Garment-on-Hanger Order-Fulfillment Operations 155

SKU physical characteristics, velocity, and value


How the SKU is picked from the pick position

The final considerations are to determine the GOH piece pick volume, customer-
order volume, SKU type, and shipping carton volumes. The GOH piece pick vol-
umes, customer-order volumes, and shipping carton volumes are classified as aver-
age, most frequent, and peak. The SKU type includes the basic shipping and delivery
carton cube: length, width, height, and weight. Length and width are measured with
the piece folded or draped in a shipping carton.
The physical characteristics of a SKU include (1) physical dimensions, measured
as the SKU is placed into a shipping carton, (2) product classification, and (3) SKU
exterior packaging.
The first characteristic, physical dimensions, includes the length, width, and
height of short and long GOH pieces (for storage), and the length, width, height,
and weight of short and long GOH pieces (for packing).
The second SKU characteristic is the SKU product classification. Classifications
include the following: value, crushable, season, packed with an insert, packed with
a hanger, leather or fur, and packed as a pair.
The third GOH characteristic is the exterior packaging. With a GOH piece, the
cube characteristic is the SKUs physical characteristic as it is packed into a customer
delivery carton or shipped loose. The SKU exterior shipping carton categories are
(1) loose on a cart load bar, (2) loose on a rope loop, (3) draped or folded in a box,
and (4) hung on a box load bar.
The next SKU package characteristic is the pack carton structural support
strength. Structural support protects the SKU and vertically supports other cartons.
The final SKU characteristic is how the SKU is picked from the pick position
to the pack station: as an individual GOH piece onto a Promech or trolleyless
sortation system; in bulk on a cart or overhead trolley load bar; batch-picked and
separated on a trolley or cart load bar; or hand-carried by an employee. These
factors determine a SKUs ability to move through an employee, trolley, dynamic
rail, or cart travel path.

GOH PICK-LINE OR PICK-AISLE


SEQUENCE OF ACTIVITIES

To maintain efficient and cost-effective GOH order-fulfillment, the pick activities


on a pick line must be placed in sequential order. The completion of aisle activities
ensures the accurate and on-time completion of a customer-order. The various pick
line stations are dedicated to the following tasks:

Receiving customer-order pick instructions and introducing orders to the


pick line
Placing the discrete customer identification code on the exterior hang bar,
or releasing onto the Promech travel path for sorting
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156 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Inserting the packing list into the shipping carton


SKU positioning on a pick line (manual, mechanized, or Promech method)
Transporting completed customer orders by trolley or cart from the pick
line to the next pick area station
SKU storage and pick position activity
Order pick quantity or quality checking
Single customer-order packing
Batched customer-order sorting and packing
Customer-order container void filling
Customer-order container sealing
Customer-order container manifesting, loading, and shipping
Trash removal from the pick line

The order-fulfillment activities are determined by your GOH pick method: (1)
single customer-order pick onto a GOH cart or trolley load bar, (2) bulk pick onto
a GOH cart or trolley load bar, (3) batch pick and separate customer orders onto a
GOH cart or trolley load bar that has a series of fixed pegs or moveable separators,
or (4) pick using a trolleyless method.

GOH RECEIVING AND UNLOADING

The first GOH order-fulfillment function is to unload the GOH pieces from the
vendor delivery vehicle. GOH pieces are unloaded and received as flat-packed
garments in boxes or garments on hangers.
When an order-fulfillment operation receives GOH pieces, the receiving activ-
ities are to unload the GOH pieces from the delivery vehicle; complete a QA
inspection; identify, sort, and count the delivery quantity; steam wrinkles from the
GOH pieces; and bag the GOH pieces. In the GOH distribution industry, some
operations receive GOH pieces in boxes or on hangers. In most GOH order-fulfill-
ment operations, the differences between receiving pieces on hangers and in boxes
occur at the receiving dock and in the storage area.
The difference in receiving is that flat-packed garments are unloaded from the
delivery vehicle in a manner that is similar to unloading small-item or flat-wear
master cartons from a delivery vehicle. With flat-packed garments, at the receiving
dock or as soon as possible afterward, the flat-packed pieces in boxes are delivered
to an opening station. As required by the marketing department, at the opening
station an employee opens each box and hangs each GOH piece on a hanger. The
GOH pieces on hangers are transferred to a trolley, GOH cart load bar, or dynamic
rail. From the opening station, the flat-packed pieces are handled as garments on
hangers. Any residual flat-packed box is handled as a master carton.
After the flat-packed boxes are delivered to the opening station, the opening
activity transfers the GOH flat-packed item to a hanger. Prior to the transfer, the
order-fulfillment and marketing manager determines the number of flat-packed
pieces that will become GOH pieces.
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GOH UNLOADING METHODS


The various unloading methods are (1) hand carry, (2) rolling rack or GOH cart, (3)
trolley on a rail cart, and (4) extendible trolley boom.

Hand-Carry Method

An employee hand-carries GOH pieces between the delivery vehicle and the receiv-
ing dock. The hand-carry method is used for an order-fulfillment operation that has
a very small GOH volume.

Rolling-Rack or GOH Cart Method

The second GOH unloading method employs a GOH cart with a load bar. Some
industry professionals refer to the GOH cart as a rolling rack. The GOH cart has
two swivel casters and two rigid casters. Each pair of casters is attached to the cart
by a bracket at the bottom of a structural-support member. The height of the casters
determines the load bar elevation; sufficient height permits the casters and the bottom
structural-support member to travel over a dock leveler and to enter and exit a delivery
vehicle. A cart also has two upright posts. The base of each post is attached to the
structural-support member, and the top of each post is attached to the end of the load
bar. The width of the carts structural-support member gives a cart stability. Each
load bar is connected to the top of an upright post. The diameter of the load bar must
be sufficient for an employee to hang a hanger hook onto it. The load bar must have
the strength necessary to carry the maximum weight of GOH pieces. The load bar
span provides cart stability. To minimize damage to GOH pieces, all metal members
of a cart are coated with paint, zinc, or another material. All members are welded
together with sufficient strength to perform load-carrying and transport functions.
An employee pushes or pulls an empty GOH cart into a delivery vehicle and
transfers the GOH pieces onto the carts load bar. A full cart is pushed or pulled
from a delivery vehicle onto the receiving dock staging area.
GOH carts are used in operations with a small-to-medium GOH volume. They
require only a small investment and do not require an overhead trolley system. There
is the possibility of caster damage as the cart travels over a dock leveler. A fully-
loaded delivery truck can be unloaded in 6 to 8 hours. Carts can be used in other
GOH activities.
For additional GOH cart information, the reader is referred to the GOH in-house
transport section in this chapter.

Trolley Cart Method

The next GOH unloading method employs the GOH trolley cart (Figure 4.4). The
GOH trolley cart is a four-wheeled cart that has a specially designed load bar with
two adjustable end stops. GOH trolley carts have two swivel casters and two rigid
casters (Figure 4.5). Each caster is attached by a bracket to the bottom of a base
member. Sufficient caster height permits the cart to travel over a dock leveler and
to enter and exit a delivery vehicle. Lockable wheels are optional; they ensure that
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158 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

FIGURE 4.4 GOH cart. (From Railex Corporation, Queens, NY. With permission.)

FIGURE 4.5 Casters. (From Railex Corporation, Queens, NY. With permission.)

the trolley cart is stationary when a fully-loaded trolley is transferred from the cart
rail to the in-house trolley travel path. The base of each upright post is attached to
a base member, and the top of each upright post is connected with a two J-hooks
to the load bar. The base member has two sections that give the cart stability: two
short members, each of which is connected to two sets of wheels, and a long member
that is connected to the two short base members.
The trolley rail has two adjustable end stops. An activated end stop prevents a
trolley from moving onto or off of the trolley rail. When not activated, a trolley can
move onto or off of the trolley rail. The diameter of the trolley rail should be sufficient
to permit transfer between the cart trolley rail and an overhead trolley rail travel path.
The cart trolley rail should have the structural support necessary to carry one or two
fully-loaded trolleys. As in the rolling-rack method, to minimize GOH piece damage,
all trolley cart members are coated with paint, zinc, or another material. All members
are welded together with the strength necessary to perform the transport function.
An employee places an empty trolley onto the cart trolley rail, sets the adjustable
end stop to the activated position, pushes or pulls the empty trolley into the
delivery vehicle, and transfers the GOH pieces onto the load bar. With a full trolley
or trolleys on the cart trolley rail, an employee pushes or pulls the trolley cart from
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Garment-on-Hanger Order-Fulfillment Operations 159

the delivery vehicle onto the receiving dock staging area. On the receiving dock
area, the trolley carts end is aligned with the overhead trolley rails in-feed section.
At this location, the employee disengages the trolley carts end stop, and the fully-
loaded trolley is pushed or pulled from the cart trolley rail onto the overhead trolley
rails in-feed section.
The GOH trolley cart method is suited to a small-to-medium GOH volume and
requires an overhead trolley system. The required investment is low. There is some
possibility of damage to the casters as the cart travels over a dock leveler. A fully-
loaded delivery truck can be unloaded in 6 to 8 hours. GOH trolley carts can be
used to a limited degree in other GOH activities.
For additional GOH trolley cart information, we refer the reader to the GOH in-
house transport section in this chapter.

Extendible Trolley Boom Method

The next GOH unloading method is the extendible trolley boom method. The extend-
ible trolley boom is a specialized, manually-operated means of unloading a trolley.
The extendible boom method is used at a GOH facility that handles a medium-to-
high volume of GOH pieces on trolleys. The boom has a series of extendible channels
with headers and support devices, and a trolley rail with two adjustable stops. The
first stop is on the boom trolley travel path, and the second stop is located where the
extendible trolley and main in-house trolley travel paths merge. If a vendor delivery
truck with rope-hung GOH pieces arrives at the receiving dock, the extendible trolley
boom is extended into the delivery truck. The boom is suspended from the delivery
trucks roof or from frame structures that are set on the delivery trucks floor.
In the first unloading activity, an employee sets the adjustable stop to prevent
the extendible boom trolley from traveling onto the main in-house transport rail. An
employee with an empty trolley cart enters the delivery truck. In the truck, the
employee places the empty trolley onto the extendible trolley boom rail and sets the
first adjustable stop. This adjustable stop prevents accidental travel from the transfer
location. The employee transfers GOH pieces from the delivery truck rope loops
onto the trolley load bar. With a full trolley load, the employee adjusts the stop and
pushes the trolley forward from the delivery vehicle onto the extendible boom travel
path. Full trolleys accumulate on the travel path against the end stop. After an
accumulation of full trolleys, an employee adjusts the stop and the full trolleys are
released from the receiving dock queue area onto the overhead trolley system. With
an extendible trolley boom, a delivery truck can be unloaded in 3 to 4 hours.
An extendible trolley boom requires a capital investment. A boom services one
receiving dock position and unloads a delivery truck in the shortest time. It requires
some setup time and must be accompanied by an overhead trolley rail system. When
not in use, the boom does not take up floor space. A boom requires less maintenance
and can be used on the receiving dock.

FLAT-PACKED GARMENT TO GOH METHODS


The GOH in-house transportation method determines whether GOH pieces are
transferred to a GOH cart or trolley load bar or to a trolleyless travel path.
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160 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Transfer to a Cart Load Bar

With the cart load bar method, flat-packed GOH boxes are stacked from the pallet
onto an opening table or gravity conveyor section that feeds the boxes to an opening
employee. The opening employee opens the box, removes a piece from the box, and
places the piece on a hanger. The opening employee transfers the piece onto a four-
wheeled carts load bar. Pieces are placed on the cart load bar with the left arm of
the garment hanging toward the lead end or left side of the cart. (In the sort, count,
and storage activities, this practice ensures good employee productivity.) After a
GOH cart is full, it is moved to the sort and count station. Trash is placed in the
trash container or on the trash belt conveyor. GOH carts are generally preferred for
a low-volume GOH operation.

Transfer to a Trolley Load Bar


This method is the most productive. In this method, flat-packed cartons are placed
onto a gravity conveyor, which provides flat-packed carton queue at the opening
station. Adjacent to the opening station is an empty trolley cart. Above the gravity
conveyor is a slightly sloped trolley rail with an adjustable stop.
The top-of-rail (TOR) measurement is 6 feet, 4 inches above the finished floor.
An adjustable stop holds the trolley at the opening station. A short trolley travel path
that provides a one- to three-trolley queue against a second adjustable end stop at
the rail discharge end. The trolley rail travel path is slightly pitched toward the main
trolley travel path. An adjustable switch device permits trolleys to flow onto the
main travel path.
As required, an employee transfers an empty trolley onto the trolley rail and
adjusts the adjustable stop. The stop holds the trolley on the overhead rail at the
opening station. Next, an employee transfers a piece from the flat-packed carton onto
a hanger and transfers the GOH piece onto the trolley load bar. When GOH pieces
are transferred onto the trolley load bar, their left-hand sleeves should be facing the
trolleys lead end. When the trolley load bar is full, an employee adjusts the first
stop, which permits trolleys to travel and queue against the second adjustable stop.
After a quantity of full trolleys have queued against the second stop, an employee
releases the stop and the trolleys travel onto the main path. The main path transports
the trolleys from the opening area to the sort and count station. Trash is placed in
the trash container or on the trash belt conveyor.
Transfer to a trolley load bar is preferred for an order-fulfillment operation that
has a high volume and an overhead trolley system.

GOH SORT-AND-COUNT ACTIVITY


The next receiving activity is the sort-and-count activity. The activity separates
the vendor delivery by specific features. The sort process ensures an accurate and
quick GOH detail count. GOH operations separate deliveries by (1) purchase order,
(2) purchase order by style by SKU, (3) style by color, and (4) style and color by
size. The detail count activity ensures that the vendor-delivered GOH quantity for
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a specific SKU that matches your purchase order quantity. GOH sort and count
methods are based on GOH transport methods, and include the GOH cart method
and the nonpowered trolley rail method.

GOH CART METHOD


The first sort-and-count method is the GOH cart method. The GOH cart method
places empty carts in two rows. Each cart is assigned to a SKU, or else the cart load
bar has separators for multiple SKUs. SKU assignment depends on the sorting
requirements that were reviewed earlier. An aisle is maintained between the two cart
rows. An employee pushes an inbound GOH cart between the two empty cart rows
and, per the GOH identification label, transfers an individual GOH piece from the
inbound cart to the appropriate outside cart. After all the inbound GOH pieces are
sorted to the appropriate outside cart, the employee counts the SKUs on each cart.
The employee matches the quantity delivered by the vendor to the quantity on the
purchase order (PO). Adjustments are made to the inventory files.
Employee productivity is low with this method. It requires significant setup time
and handles only a low volume. The method requires a small capital investment and
a large amount of floor space. Employees must be able to read.

NONPOWERED TROLLEY RAIL METHOD


The second GOH sort-and-count method is the overhead nonpowered trolley rail
method. The trolley sort and count method employs three nonpowered trolley rails.
The middle rail is the travel path for the inbound GOH trolleys. The rails discharge
end has an adjustable end stop or spring-loaded switch. The two exterior trolley rails
contain empty trolleys one trolley per SKU or separators on the load bar for
multiple SKUs. Each trolleys travel path has an adjustable end stop or spring-loaded
switch. As an employee pushes a full inbound trolley with mixed SKUs on the
middle trolley path, per the GOH identification label and at the appropriate location,
the employee stops the trolley and sorts the required individual GOH pieces onto
the appropriate exterior trolley. After all the inbound GOH pieces are sorted onto
the appropriate trolley, the sort activity is completed. The employee compares the
delivered quantity to the PO quantity. Adjustments are made to the inventory files.
The advantages are good employee productivity, no setup time, the ability to
handle high volume, and a medium capital investment. In addition, overhead trolley
rails do not occupy floor space.

OTHER GOH DOCK-AREA HANDLING


CONSIDERATIONS

During the unloading and opening process, GOH hangers are transferred onto a
trolley or GOH cart load bar. All hangers face in the same direction. The options
are to transfer each GOH piece onto the load bar individually, or to group three or
five GOH pieces into one bundle with a rubber band and transfer the bundle onto
the load bar.
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162 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

GROUPING THREE OR FIVE PIECES INTO ONE BUNDLE


In many GOH order-fulfillment operations, GOH pieces are moved by means of
nonpowered trolleys, powered trolleys, dynamic trolleyless travel paths, or four-
wheel carts between two facility locations. At the assigned location, GOH pieces
are transferred from the in-house transport device load bar or dynamic trolleyless
travel path onto a static storage and pick rail, trolley load bar, carousel hook, or
powered sorting ring.
Employee productivity can be improved by moving more than one GOH piece
per transaction. One method is to group three or five SKU pieces with a rubber
band. With GOH bundles, there is a productivity increase for the storage employee
and, during bulk pick, for an order picker.
The three-to-five piece GOH bundle is completed by your vendor or by a
receiving employee during the sort and count detail receiving activity.
When compared to one piece per hanger, the use of bundles increases the storage
area transfer quantity, minimizing the number of transfer transactions. When used
along with bulk picking of single SKUs, bundles reduce the number of order-picker
transfer transactions. Bundles permit an easier inventory count and minimize the
possibility of hangers interlocking on a static rail or load bar. During the receiving
activity, there is a slight decrease in productivity due to the extra step of placing
rubber bands around bundles.

QUALITY ASSURANCE
As required, the appropriate GOH sample quantity for each vendor delivery and for
the relevant size and color is sent from receiving dock area to the QA department.
The QA department verifies that the GOH quality matches your company standards
and PO specifications. The QA department ensures that the GOH sample quantity
is placed in a transfer station for transfer to a storage and pick position, and updates
the WMS or inventory file.

HANGING-GARMENT STEAMING
The next GOH piece activity is steaming. Steaming removes the folds and wrinkles
from each GOH piece. If your flat-packed pieces are received with wrinkles, they
should be removed. Each GOH piece is removed from its protective plastic or paper
bag. Steaming can be manual or automatic.

MANUAL STEAMING
Manual steaming uses an electric-powered portable steaming machine to steam a
GOH piece. To accomplish this, a GOH piece is removed from an overhead trolley
or cart load bar, the protective cover is removed, and the GOH piece is steamed.
The protective cover and GOH identification label are then replaced, and the GOH
piece is returned to the in-house transport device load bar. During the steaming
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activity, the steaming employee ensures that the proper identification label is returned
to the proper GOH piece. If, for some reason, the identification label is damaged or
lost, the steaming employee creates another label.
In most operations that receive flat-packed GOH pieces, the pieces have wrinkles.
If the order-fulfillment operation has a customer-order return/rework area, wrinkled
pieces are sent there for steaming. An employee steams one GOH piece per trans-
action, which minimizes the possibility of misplacing an identification label.
Manual steaming is a low-volume, low-productivity method. It can be performed,
however, at any location with minimal training and a low investment.

AUTOMATIC STEAMING
The second steaming method is automatic steaming. An employee transfers an
unbagged GOH piece onto the steaming devices in-feed conveyor. The conveyor
has a section with a slide rail and a powered-screw conveyor that transports the
GOH piece through the steam machine and onto a discharge slide rail. After GOH
pieces queue against the end stop of the steam tunnel discharge slide rail, an
employee transfers the steamed GOH pieces to the cover-and-label station and onto
the load bar of the in-house transport device. Steaming machines require an electric
or gas boiler, a water supply, and a drain. A steam tunnel can handle both long and
short GOH pieces.
To ensure proper transport over the powered-screw conveyor and slide-rail travel
paths, the GOH hanger material and shape must be standard and must match the
screw conveyor requirements.
An automatic steam tunnel that provides a constant first-in, first-out (FIFO) piece
flow requires proper handling to ensure that the protective bag with the GOH piece
identification matches the steamed GOH piece. To assist the steam tunnel employee
in verifying labels, empty hangers with clips are permanently fixed to a closed-loop
slick-rail travel path with end stops at the charge end and discharge end.
As an employee prepares to steam a GOH piece, the employee places its
removed protective bag and label on a clip and pushes the clip forward on the
slick-rail travel path. This activity is repeated for each GOH piece that is transferred
into the steam tunnel. As the slick-rail clip with the protective bag and label arrive
at the discharge end, the FIFO clip flow matches the GOH piece flow, ensuring
that the label and protective bag match the GOH piece that is discharged from the
steam tunnel.
The advantages of automatic steaming are high volume and good employee
productivity. Automatic steaming requires a fixed finished-floor location, good
employee training, a larger financial investment, and a method for tracking GOH
identification labels.

PLASTIC BAG BOTTOMS


If your GOH operation stores pieces in plastic bags, your options are not to secure
the bottom of the plastic bag, or to heat-seal or tie the bottom of the bag.
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164 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

OPEN PLASTIC BAG BOTTOM


When your GOH storage activity does not include securing the bottom of the plastic
bag, the bottom of the bag will be open as the GOH piece is moved from the receiving
area to the storage area.
In the lower-level GOH storage position adjacent to an aisle, the plastic bags
bottom will be a few inches above the finished floor. In this location, as an employee
or mobile vehicle moves through a dusty aisle, there is a good possibility that dust
will become airborne. With airborne dust near the open bottom of a plastic bag,
there is a good chance that dust will get into the bag and collect on the GOH piece.

SECURE PLASTIC BAG BOTTOM


Whether the plastic bags bottom is secured by the vendor or in your receiving area,
an employee at a workstation seals or ties the bottom of the bag. A heat-seal machine
secures the bottom of the bag, or an employee ties the bag shut. Another plastic bag
seal or tie location might be in the sort-and-count area or the storage area.
Airborne dust cannot get into a sealed plastic bag and collect on the GOH piece.
This method requires some labor or equipment (if done in-house), but maintains
GOH quality.

HANGING-GARMENT BAGGING ACTIVITY


The next activity is bagging. An employee or a machine places a full-length protective
plastic or paper cover over the GOH piece. The protective cover prevents dust and
dirt from accumulating on the GOH piece. Most GOH order-fulfillment operations
use a plastic cover and either a manual bagging or an automatic bagging operation.

MANUAL BAGGING
With manual bagging, an employee places the GOH piece onto a bagging device.
The bagging device consists of a hook that holds the GOH hanger, and structural-
support members and a stand that are connected to the hook and to the base. The
base provides stability to the device; there is also a removable rod for a roll of
plastic bags.
After the hanger is placed onto the bagging hook, the employee ensures that the
bag is squarely over the GOH piece and that the garment is within the bag, and then
detaches the bag at the precut location. The GOH piece is then removed from the
hook. The operator ensures that the accurate GOH identification is on the GOH
piece, and then seals or ties the bags bottom and transfers the GOH piece to a
trolley or cart load bar.
To ensure proper bag utilization and good employee productivity and to prevent
waste, most GOH operations have several manual bagging devices. Each bagging
device has a roll of bag material that is precut for short and long GOH pieces.
Most GOH order-fulfillment operations that receive flat-packed GOH items or
that have a GOH piece return and rework activity also have a GOH piece bagging
activity.
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The features of a manual bagging operation are low-volume and low-employee


productivity. Manual bagging can be performed at any location with minimal training
and a low investment.

AUTOMATIC BAGGING
Automatic GOH piece bagging is done with a bagging machine that rotates a GOH
piece through four stations. The automatic bagging machine requires an operator or
a machine to place GOH pieces by their hangers onto an in-feed conveyor hook.
After the GOH piece is placed on a hook, the bagging machine rotates the piece
to the bagging station. At the bagging station, a plastic bag is mechanically pulled
down over the GOH piece. After the automatic bagging device is returned to the
upright position and separates the plastic bag along the precut line, the machine
rotates the GOH piece to the out-feed station. During the bagging activity, one option
is to have the machine seal the plastic bags bottom. At the out-feed station, an
operator ensures that the GOH piece has its identification and transfers the bagged
GOH piece from the bagging machine onto a slick rail or a trolley or cart load bar.
As required by the length of the GOH piece, the bagging device must be supplied
with short or long precut plastic material. To ensure proper transport of the GOH
piece over the slide rail, the hanger material and shape are standard.
As noted above, most GOH order-fulfillment operations that receive flat-packed
GOH items have a bagging operation. Automatic bagging features high volume and
good productivity. It requires a fixed finished floor location for the equipment,
employee training, and a greater financial investment.

GOH IN-HOUSE TRANSPORTATION


GOH horizontal and vertical transport systems move GOH pieces between two
locations or activity stations.
Many GOH facilities have multiple floor levels. The use of multiple floors within
a GOH order-fulfillment operation takes advantage of the cube space above or below
the ground level, and lowers a companys total investment. To ensure maximum
space utilization and employee productivity, a modern GOH order-fulfillment facility
is designed with horizontal and vertical GOH transport systems (Figure 4.6).

HORIZONTAL GOH TRANSPORTATION


A horizontal GOH transport systems travel path between two facility locations
remains on one elevation, either above the floor or across the floor. Horizontal
transport may involve individual pieces or groups of pieces. The options are human-
carried, GOH cart, trolley load bar, and trolleyless rail.

OBJECTIVES
The objectives of a horizontal GOH transport system are to move GOH pieces across
the floor of the facility and over a fixed or variable travel path, to ensure that the
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166 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

FIGURE 4.6 GOH between floors. (From Railex Corporation, Queens, NY. With permission.)

maximum GOH piece quantities are moved at the lowest possible cost, and to ensure
that the correct GOH pieces arrive at the assigned location.
GOH horizontal transport systems are all similar in that they move GOH pieces
between two locations, but differ as to power source, carrier capacity, travel path
space or window, and GOH volume per trip.

DESIGN PARAMETERS
A very important design imperative for a GOH horizontal transport system is to
ensure that the proposed GOH carrier and GOH travel path satisfy company transport
objectives and order-fulfillment design requirements.
To ensure that the GOH horizontal transport system meets these requirements,
GOH transport plan-view and detail-view drawings must be completed, along with
written functional specifications. The plan-view and detail-view drawings show the
executive management team, equipment vendors, and local building authorities how
the GOH transport system will look and operate. The written functional specifications
that accompany the drawings tell the story of your proposed GOH transport method.
Most GOH transport plan-view drawings are done on a small scale in order to
show the GOH horizontal travel path through the entire facility from the dispatch
station through each activity station to the final delivery station. The plan-view
drawing shows the clearance or width between order-fulfillment equipment and
building obstacles, as well as the number of turns along the travel path. It also shows
loading and unloading stations and the total travel path length and width, including
the loading and unloading spurs and the maintenance spur.
A detail-view drawing is done on a larger scale than a plan-view drawing. This
large-scale drawing shows a plan view or elevation view for a specific location on
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the GOH travel path, or a particular workstation. During your GOH transport design
and review process, the detail-view drawing ensures that there will be no interference
between order-fulfillment equipment and transport system components, building
obstacles, and other specific equipment or workstations.
Prior to purchasing and implementing a new transport system, you must clearly
define the design parameters. These design parameters are stated in your written
functional specifications, which complement your plan-view and detail-view
drawings.
These design parameters include the minimum, average, and maximum dimen-
sions (length, width, height, and weight). They should also include receiving volume,
picking volume, order volume, and number of trips and should show average and
peak activity levels. Specify the GOH destination identification method; the total
travel path distance, including the main travel path and branch travel paths; the
number and types of curves; the loading and unloading length; maintenance spurs;
merges; branch travel paths; and required run-outs. Note whether the travel path is
fixed or variable, and whether equipment is manual or microcomputer controlled.
GOH loading and unloading methods and the type of workstation pickup and delivery
schedule (on-demand or predetermined) are part of the specifications. Be sure to
note clearly any required clearance from order-fulfillment equipment, transport com-
ponents, or building obstacles.
Building parameters are also part of the specifications, including floor condi-
tions; fire wall and elevated floor opening penetrations and protection; and electrical
power source and other utilities, such as compressed air location, type, and quantity.
Special considerations include structural-support members, seismic location, and
finished floor or ceiling support structure. Safety concerns include employee travel
path and emergency exits.

NONPOWERED HORIZONTAL TRANSPORTATION


When your order-fulfillment operation needs to move GOH pieces, and your oper-
ation has several constraints that do not permit a powered GOH transport system,
consider a nonpowered transport arrangement.
The constraints that make nonpowered horizontal transport an efficient, cost-
effective, and economical system are: fewer transport trips per hour, low labor
rates, a large labor pool, shorter GOH travel distance, limited capital funds, and
low maintenance capability. In addition, the facility or equipment layout may not
permit powered transport, or your GOH receiving, picking, and shipping volumes
may be handled by a human or gravity force.

HORIZONTAL TRANSPORTATION METHODS


The horizontal transportation systems that might be considered for implementation
in a new or remodeled order-fulfillment operation are: above-floor nonpowered
horizontal, overhead nonpowered horizontal, and overhead powered horizontal.
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168 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

ABOVE-FLOOR NONPOWERED HORIZONTAL TRANSPORTATION GROUP


Above-floor nonpowered horizontal GOH transportation moves your GOH pieces
across one floor level between facility locations. When you move GOH pieces
between locations, the power source used to propel the pieces over the travel path
is manual power or gravity. In an above-floor nonpowered horizontal transport
system, the travel path between two facility locations can be variable or fixed. If the
power source is manual, the operator determines the travel path.
When a manual or gravity-powered transport system moves GOH pieces over a
travel path, the floor of the travel path must be free and clear of all obstructions.
This method does not permit other order-fulfillment activities to be performed in
the travel path. If other activities are performed in or enter into the travel path, the
potential for employee injury increases, the chance of damage to GOH pieces is
greater, and delayed delivery to the assigned station or location may occur.
The above-floor nonpowered horizontal transportation methods include human-
carried, GOH cart with a load bar, and slick or slide rail.

Human-Carried Method

The first option is the human-carried method. Human-carrying is a variable travel


path method wherein an employee picks up the GOH pieces. After receiving dispatch
instructions, an employee carries GOH pieces from one location to another. The
horizontal transport distance between the two locations is short.
In many small-volume order-fulfillment operations, the human-carried transport
method is used to move GOH pieces between two locations. In developing countries
where abundant labor is available at a low cost, human-carried GOH transport is
the predominant method.
As the name of the method implies, the power source for moving GOH pieces
between two locations is human power. This is considered a basic GOH transport
method.
Its features are low volume, restricted cube or weight capacity, a narrow variable
travel path, and easy startup. This method may cause queues and has the potential
for employee injury and GOH product damage from an employees dirty hands. This
method requires no structural-support members or specific finished-floor conditions.
The human-carried GOH transport method should not be considered for imple-
mentation in a dynamic order-fulfillment operation.

GOH Carts

The second above-floor nonpowered method is the manual (pushed or pulled) GOH
cart with a load bar. The GOH cart is a nontilt cart. A nontilt cart design means that
all wheels are in contact with the floor. The GOH cart transport is considered a
variable path transport method.
The advantages are larger GOH volume and capacity, the capability to travel
over a longer distance, and less employee fatigue. With a loaded or empty cart, after
receiving dispatch instructions an employee pushes or pulls the cart over the floor
to the assigned facility location.
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Design factors include one GOH carrying load bar, employee push handles that
are at one or both ends of the cart, four wheels or casters, and one long and two
short bottom structural-support members.

Cart Structural-Support Members

The GOH cart structural-support members include two upright posts and two short
and two long cross members, which are connected to each upright post. The first
long cross member (or load bar) is a metal member that is connected to the top short
member, while the second long cross member is connected at the bottom short
member. Both the top and bottom short cross members are attached to both upright
posts. As a cart is pushed or pulled across the floor, the connection between the two
cross members and the upright posts ensures cart rigidity and stability. The cross
members and upright posts may be welded, hinged, or secured with a nut and bolt.
To reduce GOH piece damage, all upright posts and cross members are metal
and have a coating applied to the exterior surface. GOH piece damage occurs when
an employee handles an uncoated metal surface, which dirties the employees hands.
When an employee handles a GOH piece with dirty hands, the dirt or rust is
transferred to the GOH piece.

GOH Cart Design

The GOH cart is considered a specially-designed cart due to its load or hang bar.
Hang Bar Characteristics
Most GOH carts are designed with both hang bar ends attached to the middle of
each top short cross member. The height of the hang bar above the bottom frame
and the diameter of the hang bar must be sufficient to permit the operator to transfer
an open-faced hanger onto the load bar. On the load bar, GOH pieces hang freely
within the carts bottom-frame structure. As the cart travels across the floor, this
hanging feature reduces GOH piece damage, such as the accidental ripping of GOH
pieces by equipment or by another cart.
A GOH carts load bar is designed to support a specific number of GOH pieces
per linear footineari. Specifying the carrying capacity of a load bar is a matter of
listing the maximum number of summer or winter pieces per linear foot, and noting
the thickness of the hanger. All metal members of a load bar have a coated exterior
surface. The diameter of the load bar should match your GOH hanger open-face hook.
Cart Bottom-Frame Characteristics
GOH cart bottom designs include (1) the inverted-T bottom frame; (2) the rectan-
gular, or regular-shaped, bottom frame; and (3) the Z-shaped bottom frame.
Inverted-T Bottom Frame. The first GOH cart design is the inverted, T-shaped
bottom frame. A cart with this frame is considered a push or pull cart. The cart has
a top load bar that is attached to the top short cross member. The short cross member
is attached to each upright posts top, and a long horizontal base frame is attached
to the middle of each carts short bottom support member. The bottom long cross
member and the short support members form an inverted T at the base of the cart.
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170 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

A wheel and caster combination is attached under the short bottom frame of each
four-wheeled cart. As an employee pushes or pulls a cart across the floor, this T-
frame design ensures a rigid and stable cart.
To reduce GOH piece damage, a coating is applied to all cart structure members.
The inverted-T shape permits the GOH cart to handle a large piece quantity.
When inverted-T carts are not being used in GOH transport, the open space at the
base of the cart permits an operator to nest another cart inside it. Cart nesting reduces
the floor space needed to store unused carts.
Rectangular, or Regular-Shaped, Bottom Frame. The second type of GOH
cart has a standard rectangular bottom. The cart is designed with two upright posts,
two long bottom cross members, and two short bottom cross members. Each upright
post is connected at the hang bars top ends. Each upright posts bottom end is
connected to the middle of each short bottom member. Each long bottom cross
member is connected to the ends of each of the two short bottom members. The
bottom frame makes the shape of a rectangle with solid sides. A wheel or caster is
attached under each short corner horizontal and each upright post member. As an
employee pushes or pulls a loaded cart across the floor, the connection between the
upright post member and the base frame provides stability and rigidity.
A rectangular frame can handle a heavy load and gives the best rigidity and
stability. When not in use, however, the cart requires the greatest amount of floor area.
As an employee pushes or pulls an inverted-T cart or a rectangular cart over the
cart transport travel path, the structural members and the location of the four wheels
give the best rigidity and stability and allow the operator to steer the cart.
An option with inverted-T or rectangular frames is a shelf at the top of the
upright post. Each shelf has a lip on all four sides. As an employee places SKUs
on the shelf, the lip keeps them from slipping off. The shelf is used to carry flat and
lightweight loose SKUs or cartons.
If you are considering a cart with a top shelf, keep in mind that this feature does
prevent unused carts from being nested together. This means that carts require a
large floor area.
Z-Shaped Bottom Frame. The third design is the Z-shaped bottom frame. In this
design, welded and coated metal members form the shape of a Z. The Z-shaped frame
configuration includes a short front-bottom member and a short rear-bottom member.
These two members are connected together diagonally by a long bottom member.
Each short members middle section provides an attachment location for one of the
two upright posts, and the end of each short member has a caster. As an employee
moves a cart over the finished floor, the location of the casters on each short member
adds to the carts stability. With a Z-frame cart, a swivel-caster design is preferred,
because swivel casters permit easy cart movement and steering control. During cart
transport, the swivel casters and the Z-shaped bottom frame are very important, since
these features allow the operator to couple two carts together and pull two carts across
the floor between two locations. Coupled carts mean increased employee productivity.
The Z-shaped frame features an open space along the carts bottom legs for
maximum used cart storage in a small area, and cart rigidity and stability as it is
pulled across the floor.
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With a Z-frame cart, you can couple two cart legs together. A two-cart connection
is considered to be safe and stable when pulled across a smooth finished floor. When
two carts are coupled together, worker productivity is improved.
Another Z-frame cart feature is the upright post attachment, located in the center
of each base member. Locating the upright post in the middle of the base makes the
cart easier to steer as it is moved over the floor.

Cart Specifications

The basic functional specifications for a GOH cart are:

Galvanized, zinc, or chrome-plated metal members


An overall load-bar pipe diameter that matches your open-neck GOH
hanger diameter
A base leg cross member design that allows for a connection to the two
upright posts
Underside caster attachments

A base leg cross member can range from 20 to 27 inches wide. Height ranges from
64 to 78 inches from the floor to the top of the hand bar. Carts can handle GOH
pieces that range from 30 to 72 inches in length. The load bar should be high enough
to allow for an add-on load bar that can accommodate a 31-inch long GOH piece.
The carts should have four industrial-strength swivel casters with ball bearings, each
caster having a 3- to 4-inch wheel diameter. Two swivel- and two rigid-caster types
and the location of the casters on the cart are considered options for cushion covers
that minimize noise from the wheels.
After you identify the number and type of GOH pieces per linear foot and the
GOH hanger dimensions, the cart manufacturer determines the metal gauge and the
diameter of the upright posts and the load bar. Your carts written functional speci-
fications will state the desired structural-member connection.

Securing GOH Pieces on a Load Bar

During the transport of fully-loaded GOH carts, GOH pieces can fall from the load
bar to the floor and become damaged with dirt, dust, or other debris. The methods
used to secure GOH pieces to a load bar are:

A cardboard sleeve attached with adhesive tape over all the hangers and
the bottom of the load bar
Adhesive tape applied directly over the hangers and the top and bottom
of the load bar

Cardboard Sleeve
The first method for securing GOH pieces to a load bar is the cardboard-sleeve
method. This method employs a preformed cardboard piece that fits full-length over
the diameter of the load bar and the GOH pieces. An employee wraps both the sleeve
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172 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

and the load bar with strands of adhesive tape. The tape secures the cardboard sleeve
to the load bar. As a cart travels across the finished floor, this taped cardboard sleeve
reduces the movement of GOH pieces on the load bar. Since the tape is on the
cardboard sleeve, there is minimal glue residue remaining on the load bar when the
tape is removed from the cart, and no tape or glue residue on the GOH piece hanger.
On the load bar, both sides of the cardboard sleeve extend downward 1 to 2 inches
below the load bar.
The advantages of this method are that it uses less tape, requires less time to
load and unload a cart, and minimizes tape residue on the load bar and hangers.
Adhesive Tape
The other option for securing GOH pieces to a carts load bar is to use adhesive
tape only. When the load bar is full, strands of adhesive tape are wrapped around
the bottom of the bar and the GOH hangers. Wrapping the tape on the load bar
minimizes GOH movement, but some tape adhesive remains on the hangers.

Push Handle or Push Bar

For any GOH cart (except the Z-frame cart) to be pushed or pulled across a floor,
the cart requires bars, grips, or handles. Push handles must be located on the carts
upright posts to minimize employee injury and to permit an employee to push, pull,
or steer the cart. The push handles are located on the carts upright posts. Push
handles are attached either to one or both ends of the cart.
A rubber or plastic bumper may be attached to the handle ends. When several
carts are queued in a line, the bumpers diameter or outward extension should permit
easy access to the push handle.

Caster and Wheel Location and Design Considerations


Wheels are also an important consideration. Some of the variables to determine are
the axle, axle bearing, axle bracket, wheel mounting location, and type of wheel.
Wheels can be casters or fixed. Casters can be swivel, rigid, lockable, or unlockable.
The size of the wheel is dictated by both the load of the cart and the floor. Wheels
can be exposed or covered.
The wheel and caster design parameters directly affect the ability to move, steer,
and load and unload GOH pieces between the cart and the SKU storage and pick
position and pack station.
Cart caster and wheel factors include how the casters are attached to the carts
bottom-frame members, the wheel size and tread, whether casters are lockable or
unlockable, and wheel location. The carts load rating or capacity will impact the
choice of axles, axle bearings, and axle brackets.

Caster Attachment Methods


Casters typically attach to the leg or to the underside of the frame. Caster attachment
options include stem, screw pipe, welded, riveted, and nut and bolt. The caster
mounting method is determined by floor conditions, combined cart and GOH load
weight, cost, and desired durability.
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The screw-pipe method is used on lightweight carts that travel across smooth
and debris-free floors.
The welded, riveted, and nut-and-bolt methods are used for carts that handle a
heavy load and travel across a floor that is in poor condition, with some debris on
its surface.

Caster Type
The second caster variable is the caster type. Casters can be rigid or swivel. Rigid
casters serve to hold the wheel in a fixed direction and permit a cart to turn at the
end of an aisle or at corners. A swivel caster permits the wheel to rotate in all
directions. This makes the cart easy to maneuver and to align at a workstation. With
most manual GOH push carts, swivel casters are located in the front and rigid casters
in the rear. A Z-frame cart has swivel casters on all four wheels.
Caster type is determined by the carts operational movement requirements, cart
and GOH load weight, cart load bar and frame member lengths, floor and amount
of debris, and cost.

Caster Locations
The mounting location refers to the location, according to the carts direction of
travel, of the swivel casters and rigid casters. For a GOH cart, there are three basic
caster configurations: two swivel casters in the front and two rigid casters in the
rear, two swivel casters in the rear and two rigid casters in the front, and swivel
casters in both the front and rear.

Two Swivel Casters in the Front and Two Rigid Casters in the Rear.
This caster arrangement permits easy turning at the ends of aisles. When turning a
cart at the end of an aisle with this arrangement, the cart travels continuously from
the start of the turn to the end. This configuration is best for lightweight loads and
provides easy steering through turns and a wider aisle space for aligning a cart at a
workstation.

Two Swivel Casters in the Rear and Two Rigid Casters in the Front.
This caster configuration requires increased effort and time to make a turn at the
end of an aisle. This configuration can handle heavier cart loads and provides better
travel on long straight paths.

Two Swivel Casters in the Rear and Two Swivel Casters in the Front.
A cart with four swivel casters permits easy movement in any direction with minimal
difficulty in turning. This configuration handles lightweight loads well and provides
easy alignment of the cart at a workstation. The disadvantage is that such carts are
difficult to steer in a straight travel path.

Wheel Diameter and Wheel Cover (Tread)


The wheel diameter and wheel cover or tread are the next cart design factors. The
wheel diameter is basically the height of a cart wheel. Wheel diameter selection
depends on the floor, the amount and type of debris on the floor, the required load
bar height, the GOH and cart load weight, and cost.
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174 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

The typical wheel diameter of a manual push or pull GOH cart ranges from 3
to 8 inches. The wheel diameter affects the elevation of the load bar above the floor.
The load bar elevation affects the ergonomics of a GOH piece transaction.
A small-diameter wheel gives a lower load-bar height and a lighter load capacity.
A lower load-bar height improves ergonomics by decreasing the lift height, and
improves cart stability by giving the cart a lower center of gravity. These factors
result in a more stable and safer full cart during transit.
A large-diameter wheel gives a high load-bar height. The cart moves more easily
over a floor with cracks and joints and handles a heavier GOH and cart load weight.
The second wheel component is the wheel cover or tread. The tread is the portion
of the wheel that comes in contact with the floor. The wheel tread is a key factor in
permitting an employee to move a GOH cart across the floor easily. Cart wheel
treads may be cushioned rubber, hard rubber, or plastic.
Lockable Casters or Wheels
The lockable caster or wheel is a manually-activated device. When activated, the
device locks the caster or wheel. In the locked position, the device restricts accidental
cart movement away from the workstation.
Wheel Location
The next factor is the location of the wheels on the carts undercarriage. Casters or
wheels may be mounted to the cart leg, the upright post, or the bottom support
frame. The two front and rear casters or wheels should be set in a straight line
between the carts two ends. With this arrangement, the cart is more stable as an
employee moves it across the floor. The cart wheels have the same height, which
makes it a nontilt cart. This is the most common feature on GOH carts in the order-
fulfillment industry.

Slick or Slide Rail

The next above-floor nonpowered GOH transport system is the slick or slide rail
method. Through an elevation change between the slick rail charge and discharge
ends, a slick rail transports a single GOH piece from one location to another location.
Slick rail GOH transport is a decline transport method. For additional information,
we refer the reader to the nonpowered GOH transportation section that follows.

OVERHEAD NONPOWERED HORIZONTAL TRANSPORTATION GROUP


The next GOH horizontal transportation group is overhead nonpowered horizontal
transport. This group moves GOH pieces across an overhead nonpowered trolley.
The trolleys travel path is above the buildings floor and between two locations on
one floor. With these GOH in-house transport systems, GOH pieces are moved
between two locations by manual power or gravity.
An overhead system can be supported in one of two ways: suspended from the
ceiling (Figure 4.7) or with floor supports (Figure 4.8). An architect should verify
that the facilitys ceiling or floor can handle a transport systems total weight if an
overhead GOH trolley is installed. Even if the floor is satisfactory, it may still require
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FIGURE 4.7 Examples of overhead-supported GOH. (From Railex Corporation, Queens,


NY. With permission.)
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176 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

FIGURE 4.8 Floor-supported GOH. (From Railex Corporation, Queens, NY. With
permission.)

a wider and thicker base plate. A ceiling-supported trolley system will require
additional structural-support members (headers) in order to transfer the additional
weight across several ceiling trusses.
The overhead nonpowered horizontal trolley systems are (1) slick or slide rail
and (2) nonpowered trolley.

Slick or Slide Rail Method


The first overhead nonpowered horizontal transport system is the slick or slide rail.
This system moves individual GOH pieces on a hanger between two facility loca-
tions. When you use a slick rail, there is a slight elevation change between the slick
rail charge and discharge locations. For more detail on this GOH transport method,
we refer the reader to the decline section in this chapter.

Nonpowered Overhead Trolley

The second overhead nonpowered horizontal transport system is a nonpowered


overhead trolley. These trolleys may employ any of the following travel paths: a
tubular rail on J-hook support members; an inverted-V or bar-stock path; a strut-
channel path; and an enclosed C-channel path. All of these methods are supported
by a superstructure suspended from the ceiling or built up from the floor.
Most nonpowered overhead trolley systems have the TOR set at an elevation
of 6 feet, 4 inches above the floor. At this elevation, sufficient clear space exists
between the trolley load bar and the floor for one long GOH piece. Also, at this
elevation an employee standing on the floor can perform the activities that ensure
proper trolley transfer to the overhead path and travel on the overhead path. These
activities include transferring GOH pieces between a storage rail and a workstation
or trolley load bar; using a second short-garment add-on load bar; pushing or
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pulling a single trolley or, with a pull rod, a trolley train; properly setting travel
path switches for trolley traffic flow; properly setting rail stops that stop trolley
travel; and adding or removing an empty trolley between the travel path and
workstation.
A nonpowered trolley on a tubular, strut, C-channel, or inverted-bar stock system
involves the placing of GOH pieces on a trolley load bar.
To move GOH pieces across an overhead nonpowered horizontal trolley between
two locations requires several steps. After the pieces are placed onto a nonpowered
trolley load bar, the operator pushes or pulls the trolley on the overhead trolley travel
path. With a pull bar, an operator can move up to four or five loaded trolleys across
the travel path at once.
The GOH trolley method is used in an order-fulfillment operation that handles
a medium volume, with a short-to-medium travel distance between two locations
on the same floor level.
Nonpowered Overhead Trolley on a Tubular Rail Supported by J-Hooks
The first nonpowered overhead trolley transport system uses manual power or gravity
to move trolleys over the tubular-rail travel path. The tubular-rail trolley is supported
by J-hooks. Some transport professionals refer to an overhead nonpowered trolley
on a tubular rail as a continuous speed trolley.
The components of the tubular-rail system are the GOH trolley; the tubular rail
with J-hook support devices, switches, and stops; structural-support members; and
accessories, guard rails, and other devices.
Nonpowered Trolley. The first component of an overhead non-powered trolley
transport system is the trolley. In GOH movement, the trolley and rail are the two
operational components that permit an employee to move GOH pieces over a non-
powered travel path between two facility locations.
The basic parts of a J-hook trolley are two spool sets with bearings, two heads,
two necks, a hang bar, and accessories.

Trolley Spools. The spools with bearings are the trolley components that come in
contact with and travel over the tubular rail. A trolley has four spool pairs. Two
spools are located on the trolleys front head, and two spools are located on trolleys
rear head. To ensure excellent trolley balance on the tubular rail travel path, each
spool set is placed on the side of a trolley head and on the side of the rail. The
spools concave shape matches the tubular rails diameter. Most trolley manufactur-
ers standard spool diameters are 1 inch, 1 5/16 inch, 1 3/8 inch, and 1 5/16 inch. The
spools diameter matches the rail diameter, permitting the spools to roll on the tubular
rail. This allows an operator to move a trolley from the dispatch station over the
trolley travel path to the desired location. When there is a match in diameters, the
nonpowered trolley flows easily and smoothly across the tubular trolley rail. When
the spool diameters are stated by the trolley manufacturer, they will match the overall
tubular rail diameter.
If the width between two spools is larger than the tubular rail diameter, the
trolley spools will be set low on the tubular rail as an operator moves a fully-loaded
trolley over it. When a trolleys spools are set low on the travel path, it means that
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178 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

they do not turn easily on the tubular rail. This increases the coefficient of friction,
thereby impeding movement; it also causes a wider distance between two spools,
increases spool wear, and creates trolley travel path problems at switch locations.
If the distance between two spools is narrower than the tubular rail diameter,
the spools will be set high on the tubular rail as an operator moves a trolley over it.
With the spools set high on the travel path, the problems are uneven wheel and rail
wear and greater probability of a trolley falling or jumping from the tubular rail.
For a new trolley design, a match between the trolley spool diameter and the
tubular rail diameter is a functional requirement. This fact is noted on the detail
drawings and in the written functional specifications.
Most nonpowered trolley spools have eight bearings, or two bearings per spool.
As an operator pushes or pulls the trolley over the tubular rail travel path, these
bearings ensure that the trolley spool is turning on the tubular rail. Proper spool
turning ensures that the trolley moves easily and smoothly over the tubular rail travel
path. The two types of bearings are designed as the shielded, no-drip type, and the
type that is prelubricated with nonstaining lubricant.
Spool materials include hardened metal and hardened plastic or nylon. The
hardened metal trolley spool is the most common type in the overhead trolley transport
industry. The reasons for its popularity are that the metal spool is a much older spool
technology, and metal rolls more easily. The nylon or hardened plastic spool is
considered the new type of spool. The advantages of nylon or plastic are: lower cost,
reduced trolley weight, less noise, lower spool maintenance, and longer rail life.
If you consider purchasing used trolleys for an existing overhead nonpowered
trolley transport system, the vendor should review your existing trolley drawings and
written functional specifications. These specifications should state the tubular rail
diameter and trolley spool diameter. Get several sample trolleys and test them on the
entire existing travel path. Trolleys should travel through all switches during testing.
The used trolley heads should match the existing trolley heads. This permits an
operator to push or pull a trolley train over the travel pat, and ensures proper trolley
queuing. In addition, check the trolleys overall length and the GOH load bar length
to ensure consistent GOH quantity and proper trolley queuing.
Trolley Heads. The second trolley part is the trolley head. Each trolley has two
heads. The heads are located at the trolleys ends. A trolley head has hardened metal
members that contain two spool sets; a flat, smooth exterior plate; and a section that
connects the neck to the trolley load bar. The trolley heads permit an operator to set
the trolley on the tubular rail travel path.
The length of a trolley head is approximately 2 to 3 inches. When the neck is
connected to the trolley head in a manner that allows the head and neck to turn, the
trolley head has maximum flexibility. This permits an operator to easily place a
trolley onto the tubular rail travel path.
A trolley head has a metal case, both ends of which are flat and square. This
hardened metal head case contains the two spool sets and is the location for the
spool bearings and the neck connection. A trolley head with a flat, square end gives
the trolleys front head sufficient surface space on the overhead tubular rail to have
a good connection with the trolleys rear head. When a trolley train is being pulled
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over the travel path, this trolley-head match allows the operator to pull on the rear
trolley. This pulling action causes the rear trolley to push the front trolleys over the
travel path.
To minimize GOH piece damage from the transfer of metal dirt by the operator,
most trolley head exteriors are coated.
When two trolleys are queued on a tubular rail travel path, the rear head of the
front trolley is in contact with the lead head of the rear trolley. When two trolleys
are queued on the tubular rail travel path, the open distance between the two trolley
necks is approximately 2 to 3 inches. The open space permits the operator to move
one trolley forward.
The overall trolley dimension is the distance from the exterior of the lead trolleys
head to the exterior of the rear trolleys rear head. The overall trolley dimension
determines the trolley length on the travel path queue sections.
Trolley Neck or Arm. The trolley neck or arm is the next overhead trolley com-
ponent. Each trolley has two necks. The trolley neck is the part that is connected to
the trolley head and attached to each end of the load bar. The neck connection
method permits the trolley head to swivel. The flexibility of the trolley head allows
the operator to attach the trolley to the travel path easily.
The trolley neck is in a C shape, with a long mouth. The neck extends outward
from the side of one trolley head. At a predetermined distance from the trolley head,
the preformed neck turns downward toward the load bar. At this end of the neck, the
trolley load bar is attached. In this location, the neck is located directly under the
tubular rail travel path and the trolley spools. This neck location puts a full trolley load
weight directly under the center of the tubular rail travel path. The location of the load
weight minimizes the possibility that a trolley will fall or jump from the tubular rail
travel path; the center of the GOH pieces is under the center of the trolley travel path.
This location minimizes GOH piece damage and requires only a narrow travel path.
To minimize GOH item damage from the transfer of metal dirt by an employee,
metal trolley necks are coated. The neck covering or coating material is the same
as for the trolley head.
Another neck feature is the distance between the center lines of the trolleys two
necks. The length between two necks for a standard overhead nonpowered trolley
is 24, 30, 36, 42, or 48 inches. These dimensions have the following piece-carrying
capacities: a 24-inch-long trolley carries 12 heavyweight winter or coat GOH pieces,
or 24 lightweight summer or dress GOH pieces. A trolley that is 30 inches long
carries 15 heavyweight winter or coat GOH pieces, or 30 lightweight summer or
dress GOH pieces. A 36-inch long trolley carries 18 heavyweight winter or coat
GOH pieces, or 36 lightweight summer or dress GOH pieces. A 42-inch long trolley
carries 21 heavyweight winter or coat GOH pieces, or 42 lightweight summer or
dress GOH pieces. A 48-inch long trolley carries 24 heavyweight winter or coat
GOH pieces, or 48 lightweight summer or dress GOH pieces. A trolleys load bar
length matches the longest trolley that travels across the tubular rails curves and
other sections.
When considering the number of GOH pieces per overhead trolley, remember
that a trolleys GOH piece-carrying capacity cannot exceed the manufacturers stated
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180 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

capacity. If the weight of GOH pieces exceeds the load weight, there is a possibility
of damage to the tubular rail support members, and of increased wear on the
overhead trolley spools. Most trolley manufacturers design their tubular rails and
trolleys to handle a GOH weight of 50 pounds per linear foot. Most empty trolleys
are light enough to permit an operator easily to move an empty trolley between the
overhead tubular rail and the workstation. Standard trolley weights are 4 pounds
for a 24-inch long trolley, 4.3 pounds for a 30-inch long trolley, 4.6 pounds for a
36-inch long trolley, 5 pounds for a 42-inch long trolley, and 5.5 pounds for a 48-
inch long trolley.
The second trolley length dimension is the open space between the two arms.
This open distance is the carrying surface of the trolley load bar, and determines
the maximum GOH weight for the structural-support members of the tubular rail
travel path.
The third important trolley dimension is the open space between the top of the
trolley load bar and the tubular rail. Most manufacturers design this open space to
have a 4-inch standard clearance. As required by your GOH transport operation, this
open space can be adjusted to 5 1/4 or 5 1/2 inches. This open space allows an operator
to transfer GOH pieces between the trolley load bar and the workstation, and provides
a location to hook a hand or pull rod onto a trolley.
Another trolley arm characteristic is that each arm serves to prevent GOH pieces
from sliding over the trolley load bar. This feature is important when a fully-loaded
trolley moving across the tubular rail travel path makes an elevation change.

Load Bar or GOH Load-Carrying Surface. The final nonpowered overhead


trolley component is the trolley load bars carrying surface. The load bar has the
same weight capacity as the tubular rail travel path (50 pounds per linear foot). Each
load bar end is connected to a neck. The trolley load bar is located directly under
the center of the overhead tubular rail.
The trolley load bar is a hardened metal tube with a coating of chrome, zinc,
galvanized metal, or another coating material. The coated metal surface minimizes
the risk of GOH damage from metal dirt. The diameter of the trolley load bar matches
the open-faced GOH hanger hook. The load bar and hanger hook diameters should
match, so that during travel over the tubular rail travel path, the hanger is retained
on the trolley load bar, and an operator can easily transfer GOH pieces between the
trolley load bar and the workstation.

Trolley Accessories and Options. The next nonpowered overhead trolley compo-
nents are the trolley accessories and options that improve productivity and minimize
GOH damage. Accessories and options include antislide pins or pegs, hanger locking
bars or caps, empty trolley carts, short GOH extensions or add-on load bars, and
trolley train pull bars.

Antislide Pins Or Pegs. The first accessories are antislide pins or pegs. These anti-
slide pins are inserted, secured, and evenly spaced by your trolley manufacturer on
the top surface of the trolley load bar. Each antislide pin is coated with zinc, chrome,
galvanized metal, or another coating material. Each pin extends approximately 1
inch above the load bars top surface.
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The number of pins per load bar is determined by the load bar length, transport
and workstation requirements, and the manufacturers standard. Most trolley man-
ufacturers and GOH transport professionals consider the standard antislide pin num-
ber per trolley load bar to be three to five pins.
The open space between two pins or between a pin and the neck reduces
incidences of GOH hangers becoming intertwined with other hangers or creating
GOH piece-line pressure on the neck of the trolley load bar. At the workstation,
when an operator transfers GOH pieces from the trolley load bar to a storage rail
or to a workstation, the antislide pins ensure good transfer productivity and keep
GOH pieces from falling to the floor.
Load-Locking Cap. The second nonpowered overhead trolley option is the load-
locking bar or cap. The load-locking cap is attached to the top of the trolley load
bar. The cap consists of a hardened metal bar with two holes, placed onto two long
pins that extend upward from the trolley load bar.
The trolley manufacturer secures the two long pins to the trolley load bars top
surface. Each long pin is designed with a curve at the top, and each pins end is
wider than the locking cap hole. When the metal locking cap is not sitting on top
of a GOH piece hanger, the curved end of the cap allows the metal bar to elevate
above the load bar. In this elevated position, the operator transfers GOH pieces
between the trolley load bar and the storage and pick rail. The width of the end of
the long pin keeps the locking cap on the trolley load bar. The long pins serve as
antislide pins on the surface of the trolley load bar.
The metal locking cap is a crown-shaped device with an overall width that is
slightly greater than the diameter of the load bar. The cap has two holes that allow
it to slide upward and downward on the two pins. During trolley travel across the
overhead tubular rail travel path, and especially on a curve, a trolley with a metal
locking cap in the down position on the GOH piece hangers keeps the GOH pieces
on the trolley load bar. This reduces the possibility of GOH pieces falling from a
trolley load bar and getting damaged. At a workstation or in the storage area, a metal
locking cap in the up position creates an open space that permits GOH piece transfer.
Empty-Trolley Transporter or Cart. The empty-trolley transporter or cart is the
next trolley accessory. The empty-trolley transporter is a specially-designed four-
wheel manual push or pull cart that has many standard GOH cart components. The
difference, however, is that the load-carrying surface is designed in an A shape. The
top of the A has two top trolley-carrying, full width cross members. These cross
members form the top part of the A. The two middle cross members are a full carts
width apart, from the cross member to the letter A. The middle cross members are
the trolley load bar support members. After an empty trolley spool is hung on a top
load-carrying cross member, the trolley hangs downward and rests against the middle
cross member. The empty trolley becomes one side of the letter A.
The empty trolley cart has four swivel casters. Each caster has a cushion-tread
wheel cover. These features ensure easy cart maneuvering at the workstation. The
empty-trolley carrying bars are 48 inches wide and are set at least 48 inches above
the floor. At the middle-support cross member elevation and location, an empty
trolley is hooked on the top cross member and rests on the middle cross member.
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182 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

With this arrangement, an empty trolley hangs outward and toward the floor. As the
operator transfers an empty trolley to the empty-trolley cart cross member, and as
the empty trolleys accumulate on the top cross member, the trolleys bottom head
does not come in contact with the floor.
A fully-loaded empty-trolley cart is manually pushed or pulled across the floor
to the required workstation. The empty-trolley cart increases empty-trolley transport
productivity.

Short GOH Add-On Load Bar or Carrier Extension. The next nonpowered
overhead trolley accessory is the short GOH piece add-on load bar or carrier exten-
sion. The short GOH piece add-on load bar is a metal device with a load bar and
two metal rods. One end of each metal rod is attached to a load bar, and the other
end has a hook shape. The hook has the same diameter as a trolley load bar. This
feature permits an employee to hook an add-on load bar onto a trolley load bar. The
short GOH piece add-on load bar carries additional short GOH pieces.
The short GOH piece add-on bar location is approximately in the center of the
area under the trolley load bar, and in the open space between the two trolley necks.
The vertical space between the trolley load bar and the floor is sufficient for GOH
pieces on the trolley load bar to come in contact with the add-on bar, and for the
add-on bar with a short GOH piece to hang downward and not have the bottom of
the piece come in contact with the floor. This means that the trolley has the potential
to carry a GOH quantity that is almost double that of a standard single load-bar
trolley. The short GOH piece add-on load bar components have the same coating as
the trolley components.
If your GOH transport operation handles a high volume of short GOH pieces,
consider using the short GOH piece add-on load bar to increase in-house transport
productivity.
The short GOH piece add-on bar is designed to hook over a trolley load bar.
The hook length is designed to ensure that the GOH piece add-on load bar remains
on the trolley load bar. In this position, the short GOH piece add-on load bar is
directly under a trolley load bar, ensuring a stable load and permitting a narrow
trolley travel path.
The standard add-on load bar lengths that fit a standard trolley load bar are 24,
30, 36, 42, and 48 inches. For the add-on load bar to fit within the trolleys two
necks, the add-on bar must be slightly shorter than the trolley load bar. This is
because the carrier extensions two metal rods and hooks must fit within the trolleys
two necks.
Standard add-on bars may be rigid or folding. The rigid add-on bar has two long
metal rods. In the rigid position, each rod has a hook that extends upward from the
load bar. When a rigid add-on bar is not used on a trolley load bar, its metal rods
are in the extended position. When the bar is required for use in the transport
operation, employees must untangle the coupled long metal rods of the add-on bar.
This leads to low employee productivity.
The folding add-on bar is the second type. The folding add-on bar has two long
metal rods with hooks that are designed as flexible members. To form a compact
unit, these metal rods with hooks are folded down on the top of the load bar. This
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means that when the carrier extension is used on a trolley load bar, the rods are
extended downward; when the carrier extension is not attached to the trolley load
bar, the metal rods are folded onto the load bar. This reduces the required storage
space and permits quick trolley attachment.

Trolley Pull Bar or Rod. The last nonpowered trolley accessory is the trolley pull
bar or rod. The trolley pull rod is a metal member that is coated with chrome, zinc,
a galvanized metal, or paint. The metal rod is approximately 36 inches long. One
end of the metal rod is shaped into a hook, and the other end is shaped into a handle.
The hook is designed with sufficient width and length to fit around a trolleys rear
neck. The handle shape is designed to fit a human hand.
When required to pull a trolley train over a tubular rail travel path from the
dispatch station to another station, an operator queues four to five trolleys on the
overhead tubular branch rail. At the dispatch station, the operator places the pull
rod onto the rear neck of the last trolley in the train. When the pull-rod hook is
attached to the last trolley, the operator grasps the pull rod handle and pulls the bar.
With the pull bar, the operator walks forward in the adjacent aisle and pulls the
trolley train over the overhead tubular rail travel path. In walking forward, the
operator provides the power to move the train of trolleys forward over the tubular
rail travel path. The trolley pull rod increases operator productivity by increasing
the number of trolleys per trip between the dispatch station and the required work-
station or storage area.

Plastic or Cardboard GOH Piece or Customer-Order Separator. If your GOH


transport operation needs to separate GOH SKUs or customer-ordered pieces on one
trolley load bar, a circular or rectangular plastic or cardboard sliding separator is
used to separate the pieces. The plastic or cardboard identifier has an opening in its
surface to permit an employee to easily attach or remove a number of identifiers
onto or off of a trolley load bar. The surface of the separator contains GOH piece
or customer-order identification.
Cardboard and plastic separators are flexible, reusable, and low in cost.
Tubular Rail Travel Path
The next component in a GOH nonpowered trolley horizontal transport system is
the tubular rail travel path. The overhead tubular rail is a fixed travel path that
allows the nonpowered trolley to be pushed or pulled between two facility loca-
tions. These two locations are on the same finished floor of your facility. Non-
powered trolley transport is the link between any two GOH functional locations
within your facility.
The components of an overhead tubular rail are the straight rail, the 30 curve,
the 45 curve, the 68 curve, the 90 curve, the 180 curve, switches, and stops.

Straight Rail. The first overhead tubular rail component is the straight rail section.
The straight rail section is made of high-strength metal tubing or piping. The straight
rail section provides a smooth and continuous travel path surface. To minimize
transfer of any metal dirt or rust from the metal rail to the GOH piece or to
employees hands, a metal rail has a uniform zinc or galvanized exterior coating.
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184 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Most overhead trolley tubular rail sections are manufactured to provide a min-
imum yield strength of 60,000 pounds per square inch and a minimum tensile
strength of 75,000 pounds per square inch.
The standard overhead straight rail measurements are inside pipe size (IPS),
outside diameter (OD), wall thickness, metal gauge, and length.
Standard tubular rail sections have the following measurements:

3 4
/ -inch IPS, 1 1/16-inch OD, a metal gauge of 14, a wall thickness of
0.083, and a rail length of 21 feet
1-inch IPS, 1 5/16-inch OD, a metal gauge of 14, a wall thickness of 0.083
and a rail length of 21 or 24 feet
1 1/4-inch IPS, 1 3/8-inch OD, a metal gauge of 14, a wall thickness of
0.083, and a rail length of 21 or 24 feet
1 1/2-inch IPS, 1 5/16-inch OD, a metal gauge of 12, a wall thickness of
0.109, and a rail length of 21 feet

The OD is the exterior pipe diameter. It matches the trolley-spool open space
and the trolley travel path structural-support members. The manufacturer determines
the tubular rail OD. The factors that determine OD are combined GOH piece and
trolley load weight, trolley spool, and travel path support member.
The tubular rail pipe gauge is determined by the manufacturer. The metal gauge
is one of the factors that determines the weight capacity of the tubular rail. The
weight of the trolley rail, plus the combined weight of the trolley and the GOH
pieces, is supported by the structural-support members that are attached to the
ceiling, wall, or floor. The factors that the manufacturer uses to determine metal
gauge are the maximum number of heavy or light-weight GOH pieces per trolley
and the number of trolleys per linear foot on the overhead tubular travel path.
Pipe or Rail Insert. When a straight tubular rail is longer than one pipe section,
or when a curved section must be connected to a straight section, an installation
crew connects two straight sections to each other with a pipe insert. To connect the
two pipe sections together, the pipe insert must match the IPS. To increase the length
of the straight rail travel path at the lowest cost and in the least amount of time, a
preinstalled pipe insert is often used.
Travel Path Curves. Most nonpowered overhead trolley transportation systems
avoid building obstacles and other transportation equipment by using curves (also
called bends or turn rail sections).
When your trolley travel-path design requires a curve, the curve radius should
match the distance between trolley spool center lines. When this distance matches
the curve radius, the trolleys can travel through the curve with minimal trolley hang-
ups or jumping from the rail. When these problems occur on the trolley travel path
curve, it results in low productivity and possible GOH damage.
In a pushed or pulled trolley system, the travel speed for a straight tubular rail
is faster than the speed though a curved section.
Another curve consideration is the choice of a lower-degree curve or a higher-
degree curve. Lower-degree curves have a lower coefficient of friction on the trolley
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spools as the trolley passes through the curve. This lower coefficient of friction on
the trolley spools means less physical effort is required to push or pull the trolley
or train of trolleys through a low-degree tubular rail curve.
To ensure good transport productivity with minimal GOH damage, most over-
head trolley rail travel path designs minimize the number of tubular rail curves or
use low-degree tubular rail curves.
Curve types include prebent curves and bent-in-the-field curves. During instal-
lation of a predesigned trolley travel path, most tubular rail manufacturers use pre-
bent tubular rail curves. Based on travel path design and on-site survey, the tubular
rail manufacturer determines the number of tubular rail curves that are required for
the travel path.
The prebent tubular rail curve is bent at the factory and sent to your facility for
installation. The advantages are exact curve degree and a more economical curve.
The bent-in-the-field curve is made on-site by the installation crew from a straight
rail section. With most tubular rail manufacturers, field-bent curves are used when
the tubular rail layout has few curves, when prebent curves were not shipped or
were received in damaged condition, or when the rail must bypass an unexpected
building obstacle that was not shown on the layout drawings. When compared to
the cost of relocating a building obstacle or revising a travel path layout with prebent
curves, the field-bent curve has a lower cost and maintains the project schedule. All
trolley curves are manufactured from zinc or galvanized tubing or piping with a
minimum tensile strength of 75,000 pounds per square inch. Most tubular rail curve
sections have a 3/4- to 1-inch IPS and are manufactured from 14-gauge steel.
Tubular rail curves are made in the following measurements: 23, 45, 68, 90,
90/90, and 180.
23 Curve. The 23 curve is a standard prebent curve that matches a 15/16-inch OD
pipe with a 13-inch radius. The 23 curve is used with a straight section before a
master switch, or to intersect at a 45 angle to a straight travel path.
45 Curve. The second tubular rail curve is the 45 curve with a straight section,
which is used for auxiliary switches to intersect at a 90 angle. The standard OD
pipe has a 13-inch radius. The standard 45 curve pipe has a 15-inch radius, corre-
sponding to a 1 1/16- or 1 5/16-inch OD pipe.
68 Curve. The third overhead travel path curve is the 68 curve. The 68 curve
pipe matches a 1 5/16-inch OD pipe with a radius of 13 inches. The 68 curve is used
with one long straight rail section before a master switch, or to intersect at a 90
angle to a straight travel path.
90 Curve. The next tubular rail travel path curve is the 90 curve. On the plan-
view drawing for a tubular rail travel path, the trolley enters a 90 curve from a
straight rail section and exits the 90 curve onto a straight rail section. The standard
OD sizes of a 90 curve pipe are 1 1/16 and 1 5/16 inches with a 15- to 24-inch radius,
or 1 5/16 inches with a 36-inch radius.
90/90 Curve. The next tubular rail curve is the 90/90 curve. The 90/90 curve
has two 90 curves. The 90/90 curve has a standard 15-inch radius and a pipe OD
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186 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

size of 1 1/16 to 1 5/16 inches. The entry and exit to the 90/90 curve have a straight
tubular rail section that is 36, 42, or 48 inches long. The options are a straight
tubular rail section between the two 90 curves, a trolley that enters and exits in the
same direction, and a trolley that enters in one direction and exits in another
direction.
180 Curve. The next tubular rail curve is the 180 curve. The 180 curve comes
in the following measurements:

1 1/16- or 1 5/16-inch OD pipe size with a 12-inch radius and 24-inch long
straight sections at the entry and exit
1 1/16- or 1 5/16-inch OD pipe size with a 13-inch radius and 27-inch long
straight sections at the entry and exit
1 1/16- or 1 5/16-inch OD pipe size with a 15-inch radius and 30-inch long
straight sections at the entry and exit
1 1/16- or 1 5/16-inch OD pipe size with a 24-inch radius and 48-inch long
straight sections at the entry and exit

Switches and Stops. The next overhead trolley components are the switches and
stops. Switches and stops on the tubular rail travel path function to permit continuous
trolley travel on the rail, to switch from one travel path to another, and to stop trolley
travel at a specific location on the travel path.
Switches have a moveable pipe section that is moved by a spring-loaded device
or by an operator. The trolley travel path switch permits an operator to move trolleys
efficiently from one rail to another. Rails and switches permit a travel path to connect
two workstations to each other.
Spring Switch. The spring switch is a spring-loaded, automatic switch. The switch
is activated by a trolleys lead spool. As the trolleys lead spool rides onto the switch,
the trolleys weight and forward movement forces the spring switch into the down
position. After the trolley spool travels past the switch, the spring-loaded feature
causes the switch to return to the up position. To complete trolley travel through the
spring switch, the trolleys rear spool performs the same action.
Manual Switch. A manual or human-operated switch requires that an operator pull
the switch down and move it up. A manual switch in the down position acts as a
bridge. If not required to act as a bridge for a trolley, the switch is manually moved
to the up position by an operator.
Switches allow an operator to move a trolley from a main travel path to a branch
or spur path and back to the main path. Other switches have a removable section
that creates a passageway for personnel or vehicles to travel through the trolley travel
path. In the up position, the manual switch serves as a stop device.
Trolley traffic switches point left or right. With a left tubular-rail switch, as the
trolley travels through the switch section it begins traveling to the left of the straight
travel path. With a right tubular-rail switch, as the trolley travels through the switch
section it begins traveling to the right of the straight travel path.
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FIGURE 4.9 Trolley stop and support drop. (From Railex Corporation, Queens, NY. With
permission.)

Trolley Stops. Trolley stops (Figure 4.9) may be manually set or fixed. Stops
prevent trolley travel beyond a specific point. Manually-adjustable stops are used
along the trolley path. The fixed end stop is located at the end of the trolley travel path.
Various Tubular Travel Path Switches and Stops. Non-powered trolley switches
and stops include the following types:

Spring or automatic straight switch


45 lever or manual switch
Two-way master switch
Three-way master switch
Manual cross-through switch
Automatic or spring-loaded cross-through switch
Hinged knife-elevator or fire-door switch
Removable-rail section
Parallel-stacking switch
Overhead-door switch
Fixed end stop
Adjustable end stop
Swing-rail stop
Manually-adjustable rail stop

Spring or Automatic Straight Switch. The first trolley travel path switch is the
spring or automatic straight switch. The spring straight switch is a spring-loaded
switch on an overhead tubular travel path. A spring-loaded switch places the switch
section of the travel path in the raised position. This is similar to a drawbridge in
the raised position. In the lowered position, the switch spring has low pressure,
which allows the switch section to act as a bridge. As a fully-loaded trolley
approaches a spring-loaded switch, the spring-loaded switch is activated by the
trolleys weight and by its front spool. The trolley pushes the spring switch down,
permitting an operator to push or pull the trolley from a branch travel path onto a
curved section of the main travel path. As the fully-loaded trolleys lead spool travels
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188 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

onto the straight spring switch, the trolleys weight and forward movement force
the spring switch downward onto the curve.
Spring-loaded switches are designed with a slight elevation in the middle, and
a mechanism that lowers the end of the switch onto the main travel path. A spring-
loaded switch is designed, in other words, with a slightly higher middle section and
a lower discharge section. At the discharge section, the spring-loaded switch has a
slightly lower elevation and an angle-cut end. The spring-loaded switchs angle-cut
end acts as a trolley-flow or speed-control mechanism as the trolley travels across
the switch. This angle-cut discharge end allows the spring-loaded switch rail to rest
on the top of the curve section. This resting feature ensures a smooth trolley-spool
flow from the spring-loaded switch section to the new travel path.
There are other spring-loaded switch characteristics. In the down position, they
allow one-way trolley travel through the switch. In the raised position above the
main travel path they permit unobstructed trolley travel, allow smooth and even
trolley travel from a switch to a main travel path, and require minimal operator effort
to move trolleys over a travel path section.
When a straight spring-loaded switch is in the manual position, the spring tension
moves the switch rail to the up position. With the switch in the up position, trolley
travel on the main travel path is under the raised switch section.
45 Lever or Manual Switch. The next trolley switch is the 45 curved-lever or
manually-activated switch. The curved-lever switch serves as a bridge for the trolley
from a branch or spur travel path to the main travel path. A manually-activated
switch has a slightly higher middle section and a lower discharge end. Other design
features include an operator handle that is attached to the underside of the switch.
The handle allows an operator to pull the switch down to a bridge position for trolley
travel onto another path. A self-locking mechanism keeps the switch lever in the
lowered position. At the switchs discharge end, a manually-activated curved switch
has a slightly lower travel path elevation and an angle-cut end. The manually-
activated switch acts as a trolley travel mechanism. The switchs angle-cut discharge
end allows the switch rail to rest on top of a main travel path curve. Manually-
activated switches allow one trolley to travel through a switch, permit uninterrupted
trolley travel on a main line when the switch is in the raised position, and ensure
smooth and even trolley travel from the switch to the main travel path; but because
an employee must walk to a switch and pull, manual switches also lower productivity
to move a trolley over a travel path section.
To engage a manually-activated curved-lever switch, the operator grasps the
handle and pulls the switch lever down to the lowered position. A self-locking
mechanism holds the switch in the lowered position, which allows a trolley to be
pushed or pulled across the travel path bridge to a new travel path. When the lever
switch is not in use, an employee pushes the switch up and it is locked in the up
position. In the up position, a curved-lever switch permits free and clear trolley
travel on the main travel path.
Depending on trolley layout, the manufacturer may specify a 45 manually-
activated curved-lever switch to direct trolley travel from the branch path to the main
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path. Trolley travel moves left or right from the intersection of the main path and
the branch path.
Two-Way Master Switch. The next switch is the two-way master switch. The two-
way master switch is a manually-activated switch that permits trolley travel from a
main path to a branch path or from a branch path to a main path.
Two-way master switches permit trolley travel on the main travel path, or cause
the trolley to exit to the right or left from the previous travel path. These switches
minimize the risk of trolley derailment as the trolley passes through the master
switch. The switch is self locking after it is set.
The two-way master switch has a rail section that moves to the master switchs
left or right discharge end. A lever extends to the side of the aisle adjacent to the
master switch and allows an operator to push or pull the master switch rail section in
the desired direction. To ensure smooth trolley transfer from an entry rail section to
a master switch, and from a master switch to the main travel path or a branch trolley
travel path, all rail sections are square and are set at the same elevation above the floor.
After an operator stops the trolley train on the entry path, he walks past the trolley
train to the two-way master switch. To activate the two-way master switch from the
aisle, the operator pushes or pulls the switch lever so that the switch is set in the
desired position for transfer to the exit path. The exit path permits trolley travel on
one of the branch lines to the right or left of the master switch. After the two-way
master switch is set and locked in the desired position, the operator walks back to the
last trolley on the trolley train and moves the train through the two-way master switch.
Three-Way Master Switch. The next switch is the three-way master switch,
another manually-operated switch. This switch permits trolley transfer from a branch
travel path to the main travel path, from a branch travel path to another branch travel
path, and from the main travel path to a branch travel path.
The three-way switch has a rail section that moves its discharge end to the first
or second branch travel path, or permits the trolley to continue travel on the main
travel path. A switch lever extends outward into the adjacent personnel aisle. In this
aisle, an operator sets the three-way master switch in the desired direction to provide
smooth and even trolley transfer through the three-way master switch to the branch
travel path or to the main travel path. All travel path entry and exit rails and the
master switch rail are square, and all travel path and switch rails are set at the same
elevation above the floor.
After an operator stops the trolley trains movement on the entry path, he or she
walks past the trolley train to the three-way master switch. To activate the three-
way master switch from the aisle, the operator pushes or pulls the lever on the master
switch. This action ensures that the switch is set in the desired position for trolley
transfer to the exit path. This permits the trolley to travel on one of the branch lines
that are to the right or left of the master switch, or to continue travel on the main
path. After the master switch is set in the desired position, it locks itself. An operator
walks back to the last trolley in the queued trolley train and moves the trolley train
through the three-way master switch.
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190 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Manual Cross-Through Switch. The manual cross-through switch is the next


nonpowered overhead trolley switch. The manual cross-through switch allows trol-
ley travel through two separate trolley travel paths that intersect at right angles. The
manual cross-through switch has a lever that is connected to a rail section. At the
entry to the cross-through switch, the tubular trolley rail and exit rail sections are
square, and all trolley rails and switches are set at the same elevation above the
floor. These rail features ensure smooth and even trolley travel from the entry rail
through the cross-through switch and onto the exit rail. The cross-through switch
is basically a large X that can rotate and intersect with the required exit path at a
right angle. When the cross-through switch is placed in the required position, it is
locked in position. Locking the switch reduces trolley derailment. Trolley derailment
means that as the trolley travels through the switch, the trolley can jump or fall
from the rail.
After stopping the trolley train on the main path, an operator walks past the
queued trolleys to the cross-through switch. To activate the cross-through switch,
the operator moves the hand lever, rotating the cross-through switch rail to the proper
orientation for trolley travel. After the switch is set, the employee walks back to the
queued trolleys and pushes or pulls the trolley train through the cross-through switch.
Automatic or Spring-Loaded Cross-Through Switch. The next switch is the
spring-loaded cross-through switch. This switch allows the operator to push or pull
trolleys through it and onto the next travel path without setting the switch.
The spring-loaded cross-through switch is considered a one-way switch and is
activated by a fully-loaded trolleys lead spool. When an employee pushes or pulls
the trolley onto a spring-loaded switch, the trolleys load weight and forward move-
ment cause the switch to descend onto the next travel path. The switch becomes a
bridge that connects two travel paths.
The spring-loaded cross-through switch consists of a spring-loaded bridge and
rail section with square ends and a take-away trolley rail, which also has a square end.
Hinged-Knife Elevator or Fire-Door Switch. The hinged-knife elevator or fire-
door switch is the first of several special-purpose switches. The standard hinged-
knife switch length is 32 inches. One end is connected to the trolley travel path
lead, and the other end has a break-away connection. As an elevator or fire door
moves, it comes in contact with the hinged-knife switch. The fire doors forward
movement puts force on the switch, causing the break-away end to move and creating
an open space in the straight travel path. The hinged-knife switch is an automatic
switch that is activated by the movement of an elevator or fire door.
A hinged-knife switch near a fire door or elevator door means that the trolley
path runs through a fire wall or another building passageway. During a fire, the
passageway or door is closed to prevent fire expansion.
When the passageway door is not activated, the hinged-knife switch is a main-
path, straight-rail section that allows trolleys to pass through the open doorway.
If the fire door moves, it seals the passageway. The broken locking mechanism
allows the hinged-knife section to move away from the main travel path. This
movement of the hinged-knife section creates an opening in the main travel path
and the fire door closes the passageway.
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When designing the hinged-knife section at a fire-wall passageway, ensure that


the hinged-knife switch swings in the proper outward direction and allows the fire
door to close the passageway. Also note that the hinged-knife switch should be
located at the entrance to the fire wall. In this location, the hinged-knife section can
swing outward in response to the movement of the fire door. An activated hinged-
knife section acts as a trolley stop prior to an opening on the main travel path.
Removable-Rail Section. The removable rail section or bar is the second specially-
designed switch. The removable-rail switch has a standard length of 24 or 32 inches.
When an operator activates the removable-rail switch, it creates an open space in the
trolley travel path. This permits an operator or vehicle to move through the travel path.
The removable-rail switch has a straight-rail section with two angled ends; each
end is equipped with a locking device. When a personnel or mobile-vehicle pas-
sageway must be opened up in the trolley travel path, an operator lifts up on the
removable-rail switch. This disengages the locks and allows the operator to remove
the switch rail from the main trolley path. With this section removed from the path,
a 24- or 32-inch open space is created between two main-path sections. This opening
in the trolley travel path is sufficiently wide for most personnel or mobile vehicle
masts to pass through it. After the operator or mobile vehicle has passed through
the opening in the travel path, an operator replaces and secures the removable-rail
switch in the opening, and locks the switch to the two sections of the travel path.
When the removable switch is secured in the proper position on the main travel
path, it becomes a travel-path section, and trolley travel continues over the main path.
To ensure minimal trolley and GOH damage, the travel path has an adjustable
trolley stop that is located before the removable switch on the main travel paths
lead side. An operator sets the adjustable trolley stop prior to removing the switch.
In the down position, trolleys queue at the stop instead of moving forward on the
travel path into the rail opening and falling from the path.
After resetting the removable switch, the operator deactivates the adjustable
trolley stop by moving it to the up position. In the up position, the travel path is
free and clear for trolley travel across the removable-rail section.
Parallel-Stacking Switch. The parallel-stacking switch is another specially-
designed automatic switch. A parallel-stacking switch is used to store empty trolleys.
The parallel-stacking switch has a specially-designed teeter-totter rail section
and two parallel travel-path sections. The teeter-totter rail section is attached in the
middle to a structural-support member at an elevation that is slightly above the two
parallel rails. When an operator moves an empty trolley across the teeter-totter
section, the teeter-totter device and the rails elevation causes the rail sections charge
end to raise upward, and causes the trolleys rear spools to move onto a sloped and
curved trolley-rail section. As the trolley moves over the stacking switch, each trolley
spool travels a different parallel-rail section.
The teeter-totter rail sections front and rear ends are angled. The front ends
angle permits the section to nest over the main trolley path. The rear ends angle
permits the section to nest over the parallel-rail travel path. These rail ends are half-
cut, and have a guide pin that is inserted into the take-away rail. These features
ensure that the teeter-totter rail section accurately nests over the other rail section.
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A teeter-totter rail sections length is determined by the center-to-center distance


between a trolleys spools.
The stacking switchs next components are the two parallel-rail paths, which are
standard trolley rails. One parallel-rail section has a curve and slope change at the
charge end. This slope change is downward. The second parallel-rail section is at
the discharge end of the teeter-totter section.
To ensure empty-trolley travel on the stacking switch, the two parallel rails have
an elevation change between the charge end and the discharge end.
To operate the parallel-stacking switch, an employee pushes or pulls an empty
trolley to the entrance of the switch. At the entrance, the operator ensures that the
trolleys front spool travels over the stacking switchs middle section. The trolleys
weight and forward movement causes the lead end rail of the teeter-totter to rise up
above the main travel path. The height of the teeter-totter rail section above the main
travel path should be sufficient to allow the trolleys rear spool to continue traveling
on the main travel path. As the rear trolley spool travels on the main travel path, the
path slopes and curves slightly, taking the rear trolley spool onto a separate trolley-
stacking switch rail. The trolleys front spool travels forward on the teeter-totter
switch and onto a separate rail (the parallel rail).
When an employee has moved a trolley through the parallel stacking switch,
there will be one trolley spool on each of the parallel rails. To ensure the maximum
empty-trolley queue, the rails are sloped downward from the charge end to the
discharge end. If there is excessive pressure from queued trolley spools pressing
against each other on the two parallel rails, an employee has the difficult task of
removing an empty trolley from the parallel-stacking switch. In this situation, an
adjustment is made to the slope of the parallel rail.
When empty trolleys queue on a parallel-stacking switch, their length is the
length of the trolley head. With a standard trolley length of 36 inches and a standard
trolley-head length of 3 to 4 inches, storing an empty trolley saves 32 inches of space.
Overhead-Door Switch. The next switch is the overhead-door switch. The standard
overhead-door switch is 10 feet long and is an automatic switch. The overhead-door
switch is moved by a doors downward movement and weight. The doors weight and
movement applied to the switch creates a open space in the trolley travel path.
The overhead-door switch has a lever arm. The lever arm is attached to the main
travel path and extends upward, parallel to the main travel path. The levers other
end extends at an angle below the main travel path. A chain is attached to this end
of the lever arm. When the overhead-door switch is on the lead side of the main
travel path, as the lever arm is activated it acts as an adjustable stop. The lever halts
trolley travel on the main travel path and reduces any potential trolley and GOH
damage. The chain is attached very tightly to the lever arm and to a sliding pin hook.
A section of the trolley travel path has a sliding pin with a chain attachment device
and a pivoting mechanism.
As the overhead door moves in the downward direction, the doors movement
and weight forces the lever arm downward. This causes the chain to pull the sliding
pin backward. This pin moves outward and away from the trolley travel path. Since
the pin is not inserted into the first section of the trolley travel path, the chains
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movement forces the sections pivoting side to move downward and away from the
main path. This specially-designed rail sections movement creates an opening in
the main path for the overhead door to pass through as the door moves toward the
surface of the finished floor.
When not activated, the sliding pin extends outward into the main path. To ensure
that pin connection is correct, this section of the main rail is designed to hold the pin.
Trolley Stops. The next nonpowered overhead trolley devices are the fixed end
stop, the adjustable end stop, the swing-rail stop, and the manually-adjustable rail
stop. An end stop is used at the end of the travel path that feeds a workstation, or
at the location where the trolley has completed its travel on the overhead trolley
system. The end stop is a device that halts trolley travel on a main or branch travel
path. The other trolleys on the travel path queue against the stopped trolley.
The adjustable trolley stop is a hardened metal plate that extends downward; its
end extends above the trolley travel path. The portion of the end stop above the
trolley path comes in contact with the trolleys lead head.
Fixed End Stop. The first end stop is a hardened metal device that has an L shape.
This device consists of a hardened metal plate that makes up the stem of the L and
a travel-path pipe insert that is the base of the L. The diameter of the rail insert is
slightly less than the interior diameter of the travel rail. This allows an employee to
insert the end stop into the end of the trolley travel path. The hardened metal plate
is 2 to 3 inches above the TOR. A Tek screw is inserted through a hole in the plate
and into the bottom of the trolley travel path. The Tek screw is inserted in the
underside of the travel path. In this position, the Tek screw does not interfere with
the trolley spool rolling on the travel path, and it secures the end stop to the travel
path. Usually the end stop is painted red.
Adjustable End Stop. The second stop is the adjustable end stop. The adjustable
end stop can be located anywhere along the main travel path and near a structural-
support member. The end stops metal member has sufficient depth to come in
contact with a trolleys lead head as the trolley travels over the travel path. The other
end of the trolleys adjustable stop is connected to structural-support member on the
travel path.
Swing-Rail Stop. The swing-rail stop is the next stop device. The swing-rail stop
allows the trolley to travel in one direction over the main travel path. The swing-
rail stop is a hardened metal, coated member that extends downward from a J-hook
above the travel path. The height of the stop above the travel path is sufficient to
ensure that the trolleys front head comes in contact with the hardened metal plate.
As the trolley moves forward on the travel path, the swing stop moves upward over
the trolleys front and rear heads. This allows the trolley to travel past the swing stop.
The swing-rail stop is a flipper that moves in one direction. When the trolley on
the overhead rail travels in the proper direction, the trolley heads strike the swing
flipper. As the trolleys front head strikes the swing stop, the swing stop flips upward
and rides along the top of the trolley and over the trolleys rear head. This flipping
action permits trolleys to travel on the main rail and through the swing stop.
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When an employee moves a trolley in the wrong direction on the main rail, the
trolleys rear head strikes the flippers metal extension and forces the swing stop to
come in contact with the J-hook. The J-hook stops the flipper, and the flipper halts
trolley travel.
Manually-Adjustable Rail Stop. The manually-adjustable rail stop is the last stop
device. The manually-adjustable rail stop is a J-hook rail support member with an
attached lever. The lever moves up (the deactivated position) and down (the activated
position). The levers length permits an operator to control the position of the
adjustable stop. The adjustable-stop attachment method and the levers length permit
one end of the lever to become a barrier in the travel path. When an operator activates
a stop, the stop halts all trolley travel on a travel path.
To set a manually-adjustable rail stop to the active position, an operator pushes
upward on the levers outside end. This causes the other part of the lever to fall
across the trolley travel path. With the lever in this position, all trolleys on the travel
path queue against the stop.
To deactivate a manually-adjustable stop, the operator pulls downward on the
levers outside end. This causes the other end of the lever to rise above the travel
path. The deactivated lever is high enough above the travel rail to allow the trolley
to travel below the rail stop.
Support Structure and Structural Members
The next components in an overhead trolley system are the structural members. The
trolley travel path and support structure are designed by the manufacturer. The travel-
path structure is designed to handle the combined weight of the trolley and the
maximum number of GOH pieces. The support structure may be attached to the
floor or the ceiling.
Floor-Supported Method. Floor support is a very common support method
because most buildings have a 20-foot-high ceiling, and the top of the trolley travel
path is typically 6 feet, 4 inches above the floor. This means that there is open space
between the overhead structural-support members and the ceiling; and ceilings in
some buildings are not designed to carry the total load weight of structural-support
members, trolleys, and GOH pieces.
The floor-supported method consists of upright frames (posts or pipes) that are
placed every 10 to 20 feet along the floor. These upright frames have cross clamps
and pipes that make the structure sturdy and rigid. Frames are secured to the floor
and support the overhead-trolley travel path. This creates open aisle on the floor
between the upright posts and under the overhead travel path.
The components of a floor-supported structure are floor sets or clamps, upright
posts, frames or pipes, tubular joist frames, pipe clamps, braces and cross members,
pipe inserts, J-hook rail supports, and Tek screws.
Floor Set or Clamp. The first component is the floor set or clamp. Based on the
load weight of a fully-loaded trolley and the facilitys seismic location, your man-
ufacturer determines the appropriate floor-set type. The floor set ensures stability
and rigidity in the upright posts. Floor sets anchor to the floor.
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Types of floor sets include an anchor bolt with a washer and wooden bushing,
a flange and nipple with one hole, a flange and nipple with two holes, and a dish base.
Anchor Bolt with a Washer. The anchor bolt with a washer and wooden bushing
is the first type of floor set. This type features an anchor bolt that is drilled into the
floor. The anchor bolt extends 1/2 to 1 inch above the floor; a large washer and
wooden bushing are placed over the bolt. The washer spreads the weight of structural
members and trolleys over a wider surface. After the upright post is placed over the
wooden bushing, the wooden bushing reduces the movement of the upright post
along the floor.
This type of floor set is inexpensive and easy to install. It handles a light load
weight. The upright post cannot withstand abuse or accidental impact. The post
will move easily if it is hit by a moving vehicle, thereby jeopardizing the overhead
travel path.
Flange and Nipple with One Hole. The second floor set is the flange and nipple
with one hole. This floor set has a large washer with one punched hole and a welded
1- to 2-inch high nipple or pipe. After the flange is set in the proper floor location,
an anchor bolt is driven through the hole into the floor, or the anchor bolt can be
driven into the floor first and the anchor set placed onto the bolt and secured with a nut.
After the anchor set is secured to the floor, the upright post is set inside or around
the nipple. This secures the upright post; the flange spreads out the total load weight
of the overhead trolley.
The disadvantage is that this type of floor set is more expensive. The advantages
are that it handles a low-to-medium load weight and is better able to withstand abuse
or accidental impact.
Flange and Nipple with Two Holes. The third floor set is the flange and nipple
with two holes. This set is very similar to the previous set, with the exception that
the flange has two holes in its surface. This makes it easier to create a crisscross
anchor pattern and, if required, to use two anchors per floor set. This anchor pattern
improves stability and rigidity.
Dish Base. The last floor set is the dish base. The dish base has a preformed base
plate with punched holes and a post that extends upward. The post is welded onto
the dish in the middle, and the dish has two secure bolts that anchor it to the floor.
To reduce rusting, the dish is covered with a coating or paint.
After the dish base is set on the floor, it resembles a dish that is turned over,
with the high point in the middle. Anchor holes are drilled in the dishs four corners.
These are placed over the anchor bolts, securing the dish base to the floor. The dish
is 20 to 22 inches square and has a 28-inch diagonal. The dish base spreads the load
over a wider surface than other floor sets.
With the dish base secured to the finished floor, the upright post is set inside
the pipe extension in the middle of the dish. Bolts are tightened onto the upright
post to keep it rigid and straight.
The dish base is the most expensive floor set. It supports a heavier load and
withstands accidental impact.
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196 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

POWERED HORIZONTAL TRANSPORTATION GROUP


The next horizontal GOH transportation group has a travel path that is driven by an
electric motor. The motor moves a trolley or an individual GOH piece over the travel
path. The powered horizontal transportation group includes:

Powered chain with pusher dogs and overhead path


Powered screw conveyor
Trolleyless method

Powered Chain with Pusher Dogs and Overhead Path

The first powered horizontal transportation method employs a powered chain with
pusher dogs (or pendants) and a trolley on an overhead travel path. This method is
used in many GOH operations with long transport distances. After a code is entered
on the trolley, the pusher dogs move the trolley along the travel path to the assigned
address. At the assigned address, the transport controls divert the trolley from the
main path onto a nonpowered spur, and the trolleys queue for later disposition.
The components used in this method are a powered chain with pusher dogs, a
powered-chain travel path and a trolley travel path, a trolley in-feed station, a non-
powered travel path, protection for the powered-chain and trolley travel paths,
trolley divert devices and branch rails, and trolley and powered-chain stop/start
controls.
Trolley types include a trolley on a tubular rail, a trolley on an inverted-V bar-
stock travel path, a trolley on a C-channel travel path, and a trolley on a strut travel
path.
Trolley on a Tubular Rail
The first trolley type is the trolley that rides on a tubular rail. The tubular rail diameter
matches that of the trolley spools. During trolley travel over the tubular rail, the four
trolley spools ride on the tubular rail.
Trolley on an Inverted-V Bar-Stock Travel Path
The second trolley type is a trolley that travels on an inverted-V (or angle-iron)
travel path. An inverted-V travel path requires a trolley with two sets of wheels.
Each wheels flat surface is set at an angle and rides on the inverted-V travel path.
Trolley on a C-Channel Travel Path
The third trolley type is the trolley that travels in a C-channel travel path, which consists
of two flat sections. The two flat sections are on the two sides of the C-channel and
face toward the floor. The four trolley wheels ride on these two flat surfaces.
Trolley on a Strut Travel Path
The fourth trolley type is the strut trolley. The strut travel path is a metal piece with
a middle crease that extends 1/8 inch above the base. The trolley has two wheels that
have a deep, sharp, and concave shape. The trolley wheels ride on the middle crease
of the travel path.
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Powered Chain, Chain Travel Path, and Pusher Dogs


The transportation method that employs a powered chain with pusher dogs and a
trolley travel path can also consist of a powered chain, a drive unit and take-up
device, a powered-chain travel path with diverts, and soft and hard pusher dogs.
Powered Chain. This methods first component is the powered chain. The powered
chain is a closed loop of chain links that is threaded through a C-channel, over a
take-up device, and over a motor drive sprocket and other devices. The powered
chain receives its power from an electric motor that runs through a drive unit. The
drive unit is powered by an electric direct-current (DC) motor and provides the force
to pull the chain through the C-channel. At predetermined points, links of the
powered chain are attached to pusher dogs. These pusher dogs extend downward
and push a GOH trolley over the trolley travel path.
The powered chain is the main component in this transportation method. The
powered chain has hardened metal links with two wheel sets. The wheel sets are
staggered, with one set facing the C-channels interior sides and the second set facing
the C-channels upper and lower interior. Each wheel has an axle and a bearing. The
C-channel is the travel path for the wheels on the powered chain.
Dual wheel sets ensure straight chain travel through the C-channel and provide
a travel surface that has a low coefficient of friction as the chain moves through the
C-channel.
Other powered chain designs include one wheel set inside the link, two wheels
on the outside of the link, and a pusher-dog link.
Chain links are connected every five to six inches. The two link types are the
center wheel link and the outside wheel link.
The center wheel link has two outer wheels with a diameter of 2 1/4 inches, and
two side links. The outside wheel link has two wheels with a diameter of 2 1/8 inches;
the wheels are attached to the two side-wheel links.
All chain links are connected with a connecting pin, which provides the chain
with the necessary flexibility to travel through a curve or over an elevation change.
Every five to six feet, a hard or soft pusher dog is attached to a link. The pusher
dog extends downward through the C-channels bottom opening. During operation,
the powered-chain pendant extension and the pusher dog have sufficient length to
engage a trolleys front head. When a pusher dog engages a trolleys front head, the
trolley is moved forward over the travel path.
The chain is threaded through the C-channel travel path, through the motor-
driven sprocket, through a take-up device, and around horizontal or vertical curves.
After the chain has been pulled through the C-channel travel path, the chains two
ends are connected together to form an endless loop. The soft and hard pusher dogs
extend downward through the C-channel.
Drive Motor and Tooth Sprocket. The next components are the electric DC
motor, the drive, and the chain sprocket. The electric motor provides power to the
drive train or caterpillar drive unit. The caterpillar drive unit is on a powered-chain
travel path. The chain sprockets drive teeth engage the openings in the powered-
chain links. The drive teeth are attached to the chain sprocket; they extend outward
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198 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

and are spaced to fall between the powered-chain link openings. The chain sprockets
drive tooth has sufficient depth to pull the chain forward through the travel path.
The DC motor, caterpillar drive, and chain sprocket are located at the highest
elevation on the powered-chain travel path. This location results in the least slack,
ensuring proper interface between the chain sprocket and the powered-trolley chain
link.
The caterpillar drive unit and the sprocket pull the powered chain at 60 feet per
minute through the C-channel track and move a trolley over the travel path. The
size of the drive motor is determined by the powered chain and the travel path. The
manufacturer figures in the number and type of horizontal curves, the number and
type of vertical bends, the dimensions of the straight travel path, and the maximum
number of GOH trolleys on a travel path. With these design data, the manufacturer
calculates the chain-pull data and motor-power requirements.
Along the powered-chain travel path is a trolley-chain lubricator. The lubricator
is a track section, approximately 1 foot long, that has two nozzles. One nozzle is
for air pressure and the second is for the lubricant. The two nozzles spray a mist
onto the powered chain as it passes the lubricator station. Proper chain lubrication
reduces the coefficient of friction, increases the life of the powered chain, and reduces
maintenance problems.

Take-Up Device. The next powered-chain component is the take-up device. The
take-up device is basically a 180 turn. From its original location, the device can
move up to 16 inches forward or to the rear. Proper adjustment of the take-up device
ensures proper powered-chain tension. The take-up devices forward movement
eliminates a slack chain condition. If the chain take-up device is moved to the rear,
the device reduces tension on the powered chain.
The chain take-up device is a required component due to powered-chain wear
and tear and change in environmental conditions. Environmental conditions and
normal wear and tear over time cause the powered chain to stretch and develop slack.
The take-up device is located at the lowest elevation on the travel path. Usually,
the lowest elevation comes immediately after the drive unit and sprocket location. At
this elevation, the underside of the powered chain requires a wire mesh or solid guard.
Take-up devices may be manual or automatic. Automatic types include spring,
air cylinder, and counterweight.

Manual or Screw Take-Up Device. The first take-up device is the manual or
screw take-up device. A maintenance employee adjusts the screw device to move the
180 curve forward or backward, in order to correct a slack or tense powered chain.

Spring Take-Up Device. This is the first automatic take-up device. With a spring
take-up device, tension on the powered chain keeps the take-up device at the proper
location and ensures proper chain condition.

Air-Operated Take-Up Device. The air-operated take-up device is an automatic


take-up device. An air compressor provides air to the device, which extends or
retracts the 180 curve to ensure proper chain condition.
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Counterweight Take-Up Device. The last take-up device is a counterweight take-


up device, which is also an automatic take-up device. With cables and weights, the
counterweight take-up device applies constant tension to the 180 curve. The coun-
terweights are available in 25-pound increments to match the chain requirements.
Soft Pusher Dog and Trolley Queue. The soft pusher dog is a stiff rubber pad
that is attached to a powered chains hardened metal pendant. The stiff rubber pad
extends downward, toward the floor, to engage a trolleys front head, and has
sufficient strength to push a trolley over the horizontal travel path. When trolleys
are queued on the horizontal travel path, the stiff rubber must have the flexibility to
slide over the trolley heads.
Hard Pusher Dog and Trolley Queue. The hard pusher dog is a hardened metal
plate that is attached to a powered chains hardened metal pendant. The hardened
metal pendant has sufficient strength and elevation above the floor to engage a
trolleys front head and to push the trolley over a horizontal or vertical travel path.
When trolleys are queued on the horizontal travel path, a hard pusher dog is not
flexible enough to slide over the trolley heads. At trolley queue sections, the travel
path is set at a lower elevation. This lowers the trolley heads and permits the pusher
dogs to continue moving forward without engaging a trolley head.
C-Channel or Enclosed-Track Section. The C-channel or chain track (Figure
4.10) is manufactured from nine-gauge metal that has a rectangular shape. The
C-channel has two solid sides, a solid top, and an open bottom. The opening in the
bottom is 7/8 inch wide. The C-channels top-to-bottom span is 2 11/16 inches, and
the side span is 2 9/16 inches. C-channel track is available in 10- and 20-foot straight
sections, 15 to 180 horizontal curves, and vertical bends.

FIGURE 4.10 GOH track detail. (From Railex Corporation, Queens, NY. With permission.)
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200 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

The C-channel travel path is available in 10- and 20-foot lengths. Two C-
channel track sections connected together provide a safe and secure powered-chain
travel path that reduces employee injury and GOH damage. The interior bottom has
a low coefficient of friction; there is a hard, smooth, and continuous surface for the
wheels. The exterior surface is identified with a color code for a particular opera-
tional function.
Horizontal curves and vertical bends are similar to straight track sections; their
interiors are lined with wear bars made of hardened metal. As the powered chain is
pulled through the C-channel, its wheels come in contact with the wear bar. The
wear bar resists wear, minimizes the coefficient of friction, and increases wheel and
track life. Overhead transportation professionals prefer to use the largest standard
curve radius, because the largest radius increases chain life.
Design factors include the center distance between two pendants and the open
space between two trolleys.
Other C-channel track components include a track hanger with attachment brack-
ets, an end yoke, sway braces, hanger rods, splice fixtures, a track removal station,
a chain inspection station, and expansion sections.
The first component is the track hanger with attachment brackets. The hanger
bracket is a 1/4-inch thick metal component that is used to connect the C-channel
track section to the structural-support member. The bracket types are a U bracket
and a flanged bracket.
The U bracket is used on horizontal turns and vertical bends, and to support the
C-channel track at splice points and at other intermediate locations. The bracket is
in the shape of a U, the two sides of which straddle the exterior track section. At
these locations, the hanger bracket is welded to the C-channel track section. Other
U-bracket features are drilled holes in the top for thread-rod attachment and a 2-
inch open space between the base of the U and C-channel track.
The second C-channel bracket is the flanged bracket. The flanged bracket is very
similar to the U bracket. It has drilled top holes for hanger-rod attachment and is
made of 1/4-inch thick metal. The flanged bracket slips onto the track section and is
used to suspend the C-channel track at welded-splice or intermediate locations.
The next C-channel component is the die-cut hanger yoke. The hanger yoke is
3/8 inch thick and is welded to the end of the track at locations where there is a

removable splice section. Depending on the manufacturers installation standards,


hanger yokes are used at various intermediate points to support the track. The hanger
yoke straddles a track section and is welded to secure the hanger yoke to the track.
Drilled holes connect two spliced track sections. At the track take-out station, the
die-cut hanger yoke is part of the two track sections. This feature permits removal
of the C-channels take-out section from the track. This removed track section
exposes the chain and permits the maintenance crew to observe chain travel over
the C-channel.
The next part of a C-channel is the sway brace. A sway brace is a 1/4-inch thick
metal bracket that is 1 3/4 inches wide and 3 1/16 inches long. Single and double sway
braces are available. The single sway brace has a flat top with an extension to one
side that is at a 45 angle. The top section has drilled holes for attachment to the
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track. The single sway brace is used with the U or flanged bracket, and is placed
on the brackets top surface.
The double sway brace is very similar to the single sway brace, except that the
double sway brace has two 45 sections and a longer top surface. The double sway
braces angled sections and top sections have drilled holes for threaded-rod attachment.
The next component of a C-channel is the threaded rod. Threaded rods are
available in standard 12-foot lengths. Threaded rods are used to connect the C-
channel track to the diagonal sway brace. Four full hex nuts are required to secure
the rod to the structural-support member and to the C-channel track. The installation
crew cuts the thread rod to the required length, based on the layout.
The next C-channel component is the spliced-track weld fixture. The spliced-
track weld fixture is used to weld two track sections together. The weld fixture comes
in two types, a 4-inch fixture and a 14-inch fixture. The 14-inch weld fixture is used
to weld two standard straight-track sections together and to weld a curved section
to two straight 12-inch sections (an entry section and an exit section). The 4-inch
weld fixture is used to connect two straight-track sections together and to weld entry
and exit sections to a curved section when the straight sections are less than 12
inches long. To ensure a smooth splice joint, clamps are used.
The next C-channel component is the track take-out section. The track take-out
section permits maintenance to add or remove links from the powered chain. During
operation, wear and warm weather cause the powered chains length to increase.
Cold weather causes the chain to tighten or decrease in length. Maintenance removes
the four bolts and nuts on the hanger yoke, the C-channel section, and the take-out
section to expose the powered chain. This permits access for repairs.
The take-out section is approximately 2 feet long and has a split hanger yoke
at each end. When the take-out section is open at the top and bottom, maintenance
can access the powered chain. The main track sections have normal hanger yoke
devices. A powered-chain C-channel track has one take-out section in its travel path.
Most manufacturers place the take-out section in a location that is past the take-up
device. This location is preferred because it causes less chain tension.
The next special section is the chain-track inspection station. The chain-track
inspection station is a 2-foot-long track section that has a standard splice-bracket
hanger yoke at both ends. The straight C-channel tracks top section has a removable
cover that is attached with four bolts and four nuts. Maintenance removes the cover
to inspect the chain as it is moving along the travel path.
The next section is the track expansion joint. The track expansion joint is used
on a straight enclosed track and permits 1-inch adjustment to the C-channel.
Divert Devices and Full-Line and Partial-Line Sensors. The next powered
chain and trolley components are the trolley divert devices, full-line sensors, and partial-
line sensors. The trolley divert device is an air-operated mechanical device on the main
travel path. After a programmed trolley travels past a code reading device on the main
travel path, the code reader sends a message to a microcomputer. The microcomputer
sends a message that activates the divert device, which diverts the trolley from the main
travel path. To divert the programmed trolley to the required nonpowered spur, the
divert device swings outward into the travel path. This causes the divert-device section
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202 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

to connect with the spur. This connection permits the trolleys front spools to travel
from the main travel path over the divert travel path and onto the spur.
The components of a divert device are the programmable trolley, the code reader,
the divert mechanism, and the spur travel path.
Programmable Trolley. The first component is the programmable trolley. The
programmable trolley is a GOH trolley with a hang bar and a programmable trolley
neck. This nonpowered trolley has different head and neck characteristics and should
not be used on a powered trolley.
The trolley components are a hang bar with antislide pins, front and rear heads
with spools, and front and rear necks. With a programmable trolley, the spool surface
that faces in the direction of travel is slightly larger, and the trolley neck has sufficient
space for attaching the code reader. These components are similar to the components
of a nonpowered trolley. (We refer the reader to the nonpowered trolley section in
this chapter.)
The second programmable-trolley component is the code reader. The code reader
is located on the trolleys front neck. At the in-feed station, the code reader allows
the dispatcher to encode the trolleys delivery destination. After a trolley code is set,
the trolley is transferred from the nonpowered travel path to the powered-chain travel
path. The powered chain pulls the trolley over the main travel path. The code is read
by the code reader prior to reaching the divert location. After reading the trolley
code, the code reader sends the trolley identification to a microcomputer. The
microcomputer activates the appropriate divert device, which diverts the trolley from
the main travel path to the assigned nonpowered spur travel path.
The trolley coding methods are (1) sliding pins or tabs, (2) sliding photo-
reflective tabs, and (3) bar code labels.
Sliding Pins or Tabs. The first coding method uses sliding pins or tabs. A sliding
pin is attached to the trolleys lead neck. The sliding pin consists of an index, a
metal extension, and a pin reader that runs along the main travel path.
There may be one, two, or three sliding pins. Selection is determined by the
number of divert locations along the travel path.
The index has numeric or alphabetic character settings with a range from A to
I or 0 to 9. Most trolleys use the numeric settings. The digits are printed on the face
of the index and identify the numbers that can be set on the pendant. Each pin setting
has an indentation on the metal face that keeps the sliding pin in its proper setting.
If the GOH operation has an alphabetic identification system, alphabetic characters
replace the numbers on the index face.
In a single sliding-pin identification system, a metal pin extends out beyond the
index face of the pendant. The metal pin moves upward or downward along the
index face. When the metal pin is moved to the proper pin setting, the trolley is
ready for transfer from the nonpowered travel path to the powered-chain-and-trolley
travel path. On the latter path, the metal pin allows the code reader to read the trolley
delivery location or pin setting on the index.
The single sliding-pin system provides the trolley transport with nine different
divert locations. The double sliding-pin system has two sliding pins and two series
of indexes. Each pin-and-index pair has numbers that range from 0 to 9. This
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provides for 99 different divert locations. Most dynamic GOH operations use the
double-pin system.
A double-pin trolley neck is wider than a single-pin trolley neck.
The three-pin system has three sliding pins and three indexes. Each pin-and-
index pair has numbers that range from 0 to 9. This combination provides 999
different divert locations. The three sliding-pin trolley has the widest trolley neck.
After receiving trolley dispatch instructions, an operator moves the sliding pin
or pins upward or downward to the appropriate number. This number appears on
the trolley pendants index face, and matches the number that appears on the trolley-
delivery instruction form. After the operator transfers the programmed trolley onto
the powered travel path, a pusher dog pulls the trolley forward over the travel path.
As the trolley travels over the path, a code reader reads the trolleys sliding-pin
setting and communicates the information to a microcomputer. The microcomputer
activates the appropriate divert device, which swings from the main travel path in
the appropriate direction. With the divert device in position, the trolley moves from
the powered-chain travel path onto a nonpowered spur.

Sliding Photo-Reflective Tabs. The second code-setting method is the sliding


photo-reflective tab. The components of this tab are an index on the trolleys front
neck, a photo-reflective tab or tabs on the end of the sliding pin, and a code reader
along the main travel path. There may be one, two, or three tabs.
The photo-reflective tab has a numeric or alphabetic character setting that has
a range from A to I or 0 to 9. Most trolley systems use the 0 to 9 settings. The digits
are printed on the index face; they identify the numbers that are set on the pendant.
Each setting has an indentation on the metal face that keeps the sliding photo-
reflective tab in its proper setting.
If your order-fulfillment operation has an alphabetic identification system, the
alphabetic characters replace the numbers on the index face.
In a single-tab identification system, a metal tab covered with a photo-reflective
material extends outward from the index face. The tab moves up and down along
the index face. When the metal pin is moved to the proper settings, the trolley is
ready for transfer from the nonpowered travel path to the powered-chain travel path.
The photo-reflective material on the tabs end permits the code reader to read the
trolleys delivery location (the setting on the index).
This method provides your trolley travel transport method with nine divert
locations.
The double-tab method uses two sliding photo-reflective tabs and two index
series. Each tab-and-index pair has numbers that range from 0 to 9. This double set
or numbers provides 99 different divert locations. Most dynamic GOH operations
use the double-tab setting.
The trolley neck in a double-tab system is wider than that of a single-tab system.
The three-tab method uses three sliding photo-reflective tabs and three indexes.
Each pair has numbers from 0 to 9. This combination provides 999 different divert
locations. The trolley has the widest trolley neck.
After receiving instructions to set the trolley delivery code with a sliding photo-
reflective tab, an employee moves the tab upward or downward to the appropriate
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204 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

number. This number appears on the index face and matches the number that appears
on the trolley-delivery instruction form. After the operator transfers the programmed
trolley onto the powered-chain travel path, a powered-chain pusher dog pulls the
trolley forward over the trolley travel path. As the trolley travels over the travel path,
a code reader reads the tab setting and communicates the information to a micro-
computer. The microcomputer activates the appropriate divert device, which swings
from the main the trolley travel path in the divert direction. With the divert device
in this position, the trolley moves from the powered-chain travel path to a non-
powered spur.
Bar Codes. The third code-setting method is the bar code method. Its components
are a bar code label, a trolleys lead neck or front piece hanger, and a bar-code reader
or readers. Each bar code represent a delivery location. Most companies print the
associated code on the label face. This human-readable code allows the operator to
determine the trolley delivery location. When a problem occurs with the bar code
system, the transport system can be operated with the help of the readable code and
a handheld scanner. The trolleys lead neck must have a flat surface for attaching
the bar code label.
After the bar code label is printed, it is placed onto the flat surface on the trolleys
front neck. In some operations the label is affixed directly to the neck; in others the
label is inserted into a sleeve on the trolleys neck. With the bar code on the trolley,
the trolley is transferred onto the powered-chain travel path. As the trolley travels
on the powered-chain travel path, it moves past a bar-code scanner that reads the
code. The scanner sends this information to a microcomputer. The microcomputer
activates the assigned divert device, which moves the trolley from the main travel
path to the appropriate nonpowered spur.
After the trolley with the bar code arrives at the assigned location, the bar code
is removed from the trolleys neck. One option is to use the bar code as a permanent
license plate and transport code. In this system, the GOH SKU is attached to the
license plate and the trolley is diverted to the assigned location. With this method,
the bar codes are reusable.
Another bar-code option is to hang the bar code onto the front GOH piece hanger.
With this application, the bar-code readers are located above the travel trolley path
to read the trolley lead GOH bar code.
Code Readers or Scanners. The second programmable-trolley divert component
is the code reader or scanner. The code reader is a device that is located next to or
above the main travel path. When an operation uses bar-code readers, all trolleys
must travel past the code-reader station at the same elevation above the floor and
must face in the same direction. Depending on the code identification system and
the code reader, the two requirements for obtaining proper code reads are
(1) physical contact with a sliding pin or pins, or (2) a line of sight aimed at the
trolleys neck and a light beam focused on the main travel path (for photo-reflective
tabs or bar codes).
Sliding-Pin Reader. The first type of code reader is the sliding-pin reader. The
sliding-pin reader has prongs that make contact with the metal sliding pins.
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The sliding-pin code reader is preset to identify a trolley that is assigned to its
divert device. As the trolleys neck (with the code-pin setting) travels through the
code reader, it activates the code reader. The reader triggers the assigned trolley
divert device to divert the trolley from the main trolley line onto a spur line.
If the metal sliding pins do not trigger the code reader, the trolley travels past
the code reader to the next divert device on the main travel path.
Photo-Reflective Tab Reader. The second type of code reader is the sliding photo-
reflective tab reader. This reader has a light source, a receiver, and a reflective target.
The light source is located along the side of the main travel path and faces the trolley
neck. The trolleys neck has the photo-reflective tab or target. The photo-reflective
tab is attached to the end of the sliding pin and reflects the light back toward the
light source. The receiver is located along the main travel path and receives the
reflected light from the photo-reflective tab. Each receiver is programmed to recog-
nize light patterns based on the setting of the photo-reflective tab. This information
is sent from the code reader to a microcomputer that activates a divert device and
transfers the trolleys from the main trolley line to the nonpowered travel path.
If the light pattern does not match the assigned pattern for the divert device, the
trolley continues to travel on the main travel path.
Bar-Code Reader or Scanner. The third type of code reader is the bar-code reader
or scanner. Each trolleys bar code indicates a divert location. The bar-code scanner
is similar to the photo-reflective reader, except that the bar-code scanner receives a
bar code message. The scanner emits a light beam directed at the trolley travel path.
This light beam is a solid or moving beam that is spread over a large area. The type
of light beam depends on the type of bar-code scanner, the type of bar code, and
the location of the bar code on a moving trolley.
The bar-code scanner reads reflected light. As a trolley with a bar code label
travels past a scanners light beam, the white spaces between the black bars on the
code are reflected back to the receiver. The trolley tracking device and constant
trolley travel speed allow the microcomputer to activate the assigned divert device
at the appropriate time, diverting the trolley from the main travel path onto the
appropriate spur.
Divert Device, Spur Path, and Sensor Devices. The next components are the
divert device, the nonpowered spur travel path, and the sensor devices.
The first component of a divert area is the divert device. The divert device has
an air-operated sweeper mechanism. After the divert device is activated by the code
reader and microcomputer, the device moves a divert section of the main travel
path in the appropriate direction. The forward movement of the trolleys front spool,
the powered-chain pusher dog, and the trolleys travel speed cause the trolley to
follow the divert travel path. As the trolleys rear spool travels over the divert
section, the trolleys forward movement and travel speed causes the trolleys front
head to travel across the divert device and onto the spur path. At this location, the
pusher dog is no longer engaged with the trolleys rear head. Once the trolley is
on the divert or spur section, gravity ensures that it will clear the main travel path
and the divert device.
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206 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

After a predetermined time, the divert section returns to the main travel path.
To ensure that other trolleys can travel on the main travel path, the path becomes
solid and continuous.
The second component is the nonpowered branch or spur travel path. The spur
path is designed to connect with the divert sweeper section. After the divert section
moves to the divert position, the divert section and the declined spur path form a
continuous travel path.
At predetermined locations along the spur path, there are line control devices.
These may be line-of-sight or photo-reflective devices, or trolley- and load-activated
devices.
The photo-reflective full-line sensor device has a light beam at the height of
the trolleys head that is set for a predetermined trolley number on the spur path.
This light beam is sent across the spur path to a reflective target. The reflective
target returns the light beam to the sender/receiver. The sender/receiver has a
communication line to a microcomputer that controls the divert devices. When a
trolleys head breaks through the beam, it indicates to the controller that the lane
is full. The controller deactivates the assigned divert device. It takes some time for
all mechanical components to communicate with each other, and during this time
one or two additional trolleys may be diverted from the main travel path onto the
spur path. The length of the spur path should be sufficient to handle one or two
additional trolleys.
The full-line trolley or load sensor device is a specially-designed section on the
spur path. As diverted trolleys queue on the spur path and a trolley is stopped on
the full-line sensor section, the stopped trolleys weight depresses the full-line sensor
section. When a full-line sensor section has been depressed for a predetermined
time, the full-line sensor sends a message to the microcomputer to deactivate the
divert device.
Along with full-line control devices, some manufacturers use partial-line control
devices. The differences are that a partial-line control device is located in the middle
of the spur path, while a full-line control device is located closer to the spurs charge
section. In addition, a partial-line control device activates an alarm, while a full-line
control device deactivates a divert device.

Structural-Support Members
The next powered-chain component group consists of structural-support members:
a floor-supported C-channel with a cantilever or bridge structure, and a C-channel
travel path that is hung from the ceiling.
Floor-Supported C-Channel. A cantilever or bridge floor support requires upright
posts or stands that are anchored to the floor. The upright posts support the sway
braces and other overhead structural-support members. The C-channel is attached
to the overhead structural-support members.
Ceiling-Hung C-Channel. An optional support method is to hang the C-channel
travel path from the ceiling. The buildings architect or structural engineer approves
the ceiling supports. These professionals certify that the ceilings steel structural
members have sufficient strength to support the load weight of a static and dynamic
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powered-chain travel path. Depending on ceiling material and structural components,


the travel path members require headers that are bolted, welded, or clamped to the
ceilings structural components. The headers extend across several joists to evenly
distribute the additional load.
Support Structure and Structural-Support Members
The support structure and structural-support members are the next powered-chain
transport components. The support structure is designed by the manufacturer to
handle the path layout and load weights. The weight factor is based on a fully-loaded
trolley with the heaviest GOH load.
Most manufacturers attach the support members to the powered-chain travel path.
Trolley Travel-Path Support
The trolley travel-path support members are the next components of a powered-
chain system. The support member is a J-hook or a header iron travel-path structural
support metal member.
These travel-path support members are the same as for a nonpowered travel
path. We refer the reader to the nonpowered travel path section in this chapter.
Trolley Travel-Path Sections
The trolley travel path is the next component. The options are a tubular rail, strut
travel path, inverted flat-iron travel path, and C-channel travel path.
These travel-path sections are the same as for a nonpowered travel path. We
refer the reader to the nonpowered travel path section in this chapter.
Trolley In-Feed Methods
The trolley in-feed sections are the trolley-queuing section and the pusher dog
interface location.
The first powered-chain transport section is the trolley in-feed station. The
trolley in-feed staging area is a nonpowered travel path that serves as a trolley
queuing area. An operator dispatches the trolley along with the routing instructions
that identify each trolleys assigned workstation or storage and pick location. With
this information, the operator sets the delivery location on the trolleys front neck
code device.
For additional trolley-queuing information, see the section on nonpowered trol-
ley queuing in this chapter.
The second in-feed section is the station where a pusher dog interfaces with the
trolleys rear head. After an operator properly sets the trolleys dispatch code onto
the trolleys front-neck code device, the operator pushes the trolley from the trolley-
queue travel path to the pusher dog interface and trolley in-feed location. Since the
powered chain has a continuous series of pusher dogs on 5- to 6-foot center spacing,
the trolley pauses momentarily at the in-feed station. After this momentary pause,
a powered-chain pusher dog engages the trolleys front head and pushes the trolley
over the travel path. The powered-chain pusher dog and trolley-interface options are
manual, chopper (or mechanized), and hold back and release (or automatic).
Manual Trolley In-Feed Method. Manual trolley in-feed to the powered-chain
pusher dog is the first trolley in-feed method. The in-feed station has a manual push
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208 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

trolley. With manual trolley in-feed, an operator pushes a trolley from the trolley-
queue travel path until the trolleys front head becomes engaged with a powered
chain pusher dog. At the in-feed section, the travel path is inclined slightly to ensure
that one trolley is indexed forward under the travel path. At this location, the
powered-chain travel path declines to a lower elevation. At this elevation, the pow-
ered-chain pusher dog engages the rear head and the trolley is under the control of
the powered chain. As the powered-chain travel path continues, it inclines to the
proper elevation for horizontal travel or to an elevation that permits transfer to an
elevated travel path.
To operate a manual trolley in-feed station, an operator observes the movement
of the powered-chain pusher dog above the trolley in-feed station and before it
reaches the station. As an empty powered-chain pusher dog approaches the trolley
in-feed station, the operator pushes the trolley forward on the in-feed stations non-
powered travel path until a pusher dog engages the trolleys rear head.
Manual trolley in-feed handles a low trolley volume and requires a person to
operate it. The other features are a minimum capital investment and a low probability
of trolley jams.
Chopper or Mechanized Trolley In-Feed Method. The second trolley in-feed
method is the chopper or mechanized trolley in-feed method, which transfers a
trolley from a nonpowered travel path and is pulled by a powered-chain pusher dog.
The chopper in-feed method uses a chopper device and a short gravity-powered
travel path. The short travel paths incline permits the trolleys rear head to be
engaged by a powered-chain pusher dog. The short travel path section is located
before the chopper device. Trolleys queue on the short path, which is long enough
to hold two to six trolleys.
The chopper in-feed device is an air-operated bar with trolley stops on both
ends. The device is balanced in the middle and operates in a seesaw manner. On the
powered-chain travel path, prior to the chopper location, the powered-chain pusher
dog passes a pronged sensing device. The prong extends into the pusher-dog travel
path. As the pusher dog passes the prong, the sensing device communicates the
presence of a pusher dog on the powered-chain travel path to a microcomputer and
then to the chopper device. When a pusher dog strikes the sensing device, the
microcomputer activates the chopper device. The activated chopper device permits
a trolleys front head to be engaged by the pusher dog. After the pusher dog is moved
forward on the trolley travel path, the trolley head activates a second sensing device.
This sensing device communicates to the chopper device that the trolley has traveled
from the chopper device section and that the chopper device is ready to accept
another trolley from the gravity-powered queue section. This permits the next trolley
in the queue to move forward to the in-feed station.
Manual trolley in-feed requires an employee and minimal investment. The
chopper in-feed method does not require an employee and requires a slightly greater
investment.
Hold Back and Release (or Automatic) Trolley In-Feed Method. The third
trolley in-feed method is the hold back and release (or automatic) method. This
method employs a device that moves up and down on the trolley travel path. A
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trolley being pushed by a pusher dog across the device controls the action of the
device. The hold back and release device is an air-operated device that is located
before the incline or decline of a trolley travel path and is placed on the trolley
travel path so that the trolleys rear head comes in contact with the powered-chain
pusher dog. As the trolley enters the hold back and release device, the trolley head
is moved downward.
The trolleys front head comes in contact with a soft pusher dog, but does not
come in contact with a powered-chain pusher dog. As gravity and the soft pusher
dog move the trolley forward on the hold back and release device, the trolley is
moved upward and the trolleys front spool head is at the right elevation to come in
contact with a hard pusher dog. The hard pusher dog is a hardened metal component
of the powered chain that extends downward toward the floor. The hold back and
release device moves the trolley downward and upward. On the upward movement
the pusher dog comes in contact with the trolleys front head and is moved over the
trolley travel path.
With the hold back and release device in the up position, the elevation of the
device ensures that a powered-chain pusher dog will engage the trolleys front head.
In the down position, the hold back and release device temporarily holds one trolley.
At this elevation, the pusher dog does not engage a trolley. The movement of the
powered-chain pusher dog and the trolley activates the up-and-down movement of
the device across the travel path. The pusher dog activates a sensing device. As the
trolley travels across the travel path, a series of soft pusher dogs allow the trolleys
to queue on the rail section. The hold back and release device, acting as a temporary
stop, causes the trolleys to queue. When the hard pusher dog passes a sensing device,
the pusher dog activates the hold back and release device, which rises up. In the up
position, the hard pusher dog engages the trolleys front head. The hard pusher dog
pushes the trolley over the short horizontal travel path section onto the inclined
section. As the front section of the hold back and release device is raised to the up
position, the rear section is lowered to the down position. In the down position, a
trolley is placed at a lower elevation. In this location, queued trolley heads are below
the elevation where a hard pusher dog can engage a trolley head and wait for a hard
pusher dog to activate the hold back and release device that raises the trolley head
to become engaged by a hard pusher dog.
This method handles a high volume with no manpower required. It does, how-
ever, require additional investment.

Nonpowered Travel Path


The next powered-chain system component is the nonpowered travel path. An oper-
ator moves trolleys on a nonpowered travel path. On a nonpowered travel path, the
pusher dogs are at an elevation that does not allow them to engage the trolley head.
Manual power or gravity moves the trolleys over the nonpowered travel path. In
most powered-chain systems, a nonpowered travel path is used at in-feed stations
or as a spur after the divert location.
The nonpowered travel path has the same design parameters and operational
characteristics as with the nonpowered horizontal trolley transport method. We refer
the reader to that section in this chapter.
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210 Order-Fulfillment Concepts, Design, and Operations

Trolley Travel Path Protection


As with any powered mechanical device, the powered-chain travel path system
requires guards. In this case, the guards are on the underside and on the sides. The
guards are safety code requirements for all overhead powered-transport products.
The purpose of the guards is to catch any GOH pieces or powered-transport com-
ponents that fall from the elevated travel path. The GOH-piece characteristics and
the mix determine the width and height of the side guards and the depth of the
underside guard from the top of the C-channel track. Additional bottom and under-
side guards, structural-support members, and trolley sway on horizontal curves may
also be required.
In a travel path layout, the standard practice is to allow a minimum of 6 inches
of clearance between the side of a GOH piece and the side guard, and between the
bottom of the tallest GOH piece and the underside guard. If a GOH piece falls,
trolleys continue to move GOH pieces over the travel path.
The guard components are headers, which are 5 feet wide and are attached to
the enclosed tracks top or structural-support members, and frames, which are 8
inches on center. This is the distance between two frames and extends downward
from the header to the bottom cross-structural-support member. Bottom structural-
support members are 5 feet wide and are attached to each frame; they extend full
width under the underside guard. Runners are attached full length to both sides of
the underside guards and full length on the top of the side guards. Guard material
can be wire mesh, expanded metal, or sheet metal.
Most manufacturers use expanded metal guards that are assembled at the instal-
lation site. These metal panels are cut to fit the guarding sections width. The gauge
and the size of the diamond pattern depends on GOH size and weight. Some guards
are designed to support a maintenance staff employee and are designed according
to the manufacturers standards.
Wire-mesh guards have prefabricated sections made of welded and coated metal
strands that are cut to fit the width of the guarding section and the side guard
dimensions. Most wire-mesh guards are available in 8-foot long sections. Wire-mesh
sections are connected with a spiral wire fastener. During installation, the wire-mesh
sections are attached on 8-foot centers. The GOH dimensions determine the length
and width of the wire mesh opening.
Sheet-metal guards consist of a solid metal surface that is cut to fit the width of
the guarding section and the side guard dimensions. The metal sheets are welded or
Tek-screwed onto the bottom cross member. Most manufacturers use sheet-metal
underside guards to protect the travel path under a motor.
Trolley Run-Out Section
On a powered-chain travel path, the next component is the trolley run-out section.
The trolley run-out section is the last section on the powered-chain travel path. At
this location, the powered-chain C-channel track is elevated upward. This upward
elevation moves the hard and soft pusher dogs to an elevation that is above the
trolley heads. This means that there is no contact between the powered chain and
the trolley heads. With no contact, there is no power from the pusher dog to propel
the trolley over the travel path. Past this tra