When it comes to the smooth flow of goods into your distribution center, the receiving dock can make or break your operation. Failure to properly manage the intake process turns the receiving dock into a bottleneck that creates delays for internal teams and customers.
Picture an airport, where the arrival and departure of flights is as precisely orchestrated as the inner workings of a Swiss watch. However, if just one incoming flight is delayed, like dominoes, the impacts ripple down the line. The delayed arrival negatively affects airline workers’ schedules and workloads and the schedules of customers on that flight and subsequent flights.
Receiving docks are no different. If you don’t manage the arrival of inbound goods like a crackerjack air traffic controller, it’ll be tough to manage when products reach customers. Unfortunately, too many companies let suppliers and carriers run the show. The secret to an organized, efficient and well-managed intake operation – and better customer service? Take back the receiving dock. When you own it, good things happen. Here’s how …
- Plan your workload to slash waste and save money
This is a simple change that delivers a big payoff. Put together your receiving schedule the day before goods arrive – complete with controlled delivery times and piece/pallet counts. When you schedule ahead, you can pre-plan how many people you need to receive products. A little upfront planning goes a long way to reducing waste when inbound volumes fall below capacity and overtime costs when they run over capacity. Here’s an added bonus: upfront planning frees receiving managers to spend more time on continuous improvement and lean operations and less triaging out-of-control receiving schedules.
- Get smart about how you use space
When you take control of the flow of materials to the receiving dock, you can configure the area to reduce costs. Together, smarter scheduling of inbound truck arrivals and better use of warehouse space deliver cost-saving dividends. Products are handled less during receiving, which reduces labor costs and minimizes damage. Smarter warehouse layouts help reduce fixed rental costs and let you allocate space for more critical requirements.
- Schedule all inbound materials to arrive on the same day
There are lots of reasons why it makes sense to receive all inbound materials on the same day. Same-day receipt shortens product lead times, enabling purchasing teams to streamline their buying models. It also helps reduce inventory levels, which can positively impact accounts payable and cash flow. Related benefits: better fill rates and service levels.
- Free sales & customer service teams to focus on what matters: your customers
When you know what’s arriving at your dock and when, your sales and customer service teams can provide customers with more accurate delivery dates. And when the receiving dock consistently meets those expectations, your sales and customer service teams shift their attention to growing the business, rather than putting out customer fires. Consistent fill rates, accurate lead times and on-time delivery commitments turn customers into loyal customers.
In today’s business world the pressure to continuously improve how quickly you can supply products to customers – with fewer delays and lower costs – has never been greater. But when your carriers and suppliers dictate what happens at the receiving dock, it’s tough to meet those business needs. That’s why it pays to own the dock.
Written by Chris Tew, Group Logistics Manager, Ryder System, Inc. Chris Tew is a Warehouse Plant Manager and a logistics and operations professional with more than 20 years of experience. Throughout his career, Chris has implemented and operated numerous solutions for customers across a variety of industries.