Warehousing Quality System Implementation
Complexities can lead to inefficiencies
It’s easy for chaos to reign when dealing with shipments of various sizes, value, material condition, operational importance from Navy and Marine units, government engineering and development centers, vendors and government and commercial repair activities. Each item received in the Navy warehouse must go through a receiving process, which involves opening the shipment to ensure the invoice is accurate. The equipment is then preserved to prevent material degradation, placed in storage and entered into the inventory database and spot-checked to ensure data and various status codes have been input properly.
Prior to our involvement in the program, delays and logjams were a common occurrence. We recognized the opportunity to increase efficiency and add value to the NAVAIR warehousing program by developing, refining and documenting the current processes then improving awareness of these processes and quality among the warehouse personnel.
Observe and assess
Observation is imperative in any project we take on. Rather than coming in and immediately changing the organizational structure, it’s important to take a step back and assess the current practices to determine where we have the potential to add the most value. Once we decided on a general direction, we were then able to start establishing a course of action.
Merging processes made more sense in this project than creating new processes from scratch, and it allowed for a more seamless transition. In determining which processes were worth saving, we looked at which factors were most important from the customer’s perspective. Our three key focus points ultimately became turnaround times, workplace organization, and documentation.
The 5S Program of Workplace Organization
Whenever we’re looking to streamline operations, we start by implementing the 5S methodology: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. The 5S methodology serves as a useful guide when fine-tuning warehouse processes and eliminating unnecessary or outdated steps. The sheer size of a typical quality system implementation project can seem overwhelming. Using these five steps as a guide is one easy way to make any large project more manageable.More about our company
Following our own protocol
Starting with a clean slate helped put us in the right mindset for tackling this challenge. While the NAVAIR warehousing system had its efficiencies, it was also disorganized in certain places, causing speed bumps through the process. We took the baseline and found that there was a lack of urgency about processing equipment and handling administrative tasks. As a result, shipment processes were becoming delayed. Following our own quality systems protocols, we slowly stepped in and began implementing the workplace organization steps we had designed.
Our transition was deliberately gradual. Staff buy-in is incredibly important, and it is impossible to get that buy-in when you’re asking people to radically alter their basic work processes. We instituted strategic goals that minimized discomfort on the part of warehousing personnel while maximizing any efficient practices that were already in place. We found that there was a lack of understanding of the current processes. Once a new foundation had been laid and strategic goals were in place, warehouse personnel were eager to jump on board.
By creating strategic goals and awareness for external quality, we were able to reduce inefficiencies and add value to the NAVAIR program. Received equipment is now being entered into the database and placed into storage in days rather than weeks or months. This has led to faster turnaround times, and ultimately means that commanders in the field are spending less time waiting to receive the equipment they desperately need.