This article is the second installment in a three-part series dedicated to educating you about low-cost, high-impact lean solutions available for eCommerce and fulfillment. Each article will focus on a different portion of your warehouse’s process, from picking and restocking to assembly and kitting to repackaging, packaging, and shipping. If you have questions about any of the solutions mentioned in this series, contact the Geolean USA team.
The use of kitting in your assembly area may help your warehouse achieve greater efficiency.
- Kitting — bundling several items often required together (for example, a laptop and its charger) — helps operators pick faster and stay flexible.
- Assembly — physically putting together key parts — ensures your orders are packed efficiently and the end consumer receives a more complete product.
But, in any warehouse, improving kitting and assembly will take effort. From determining which SKUs belong together to organizing your warehouse so your most in-demand products are always within arm’s reach, there’s a lot to consider. While many warehouses are looking to automation, kitting and assembly are often parts of your process that aren’t repeatable enough to be fully automated, yet.
Luckily, the lean experts at Geolean are recommending 5 low-cost kitting and assembly solutions you can implement today to improve efficiency and make picking and assembly easier for your operators.
5 Low-Cost Kitting & Assembly Solutions
In today’s market, all eCommerce warehouses and picking & packing facilities are looking for ways to stay ahead. Especially with current supply shortages, the goal is always to get the right products to the right consumers, as quickly as possible. As the supply chain struggles to maintain consistency, your facilities are under more pressure to get the right product out faster and stay flexible. There’s not much time to develop new solutions, and there’s also no room in the budget to implement full-scale solutions.
That’s why we’re highlighting these five low-cost kitting & assembly solutions, specifically for rapid change, that you can implement quickly to improve kitting & assembly efficiency, now.
01. Use What You Have On Hand
As lean consultants, we know that you already have many of the solutions your eCommerce warehouse needs. Your facility just isn’t using them to their full potential.
Take a look around your facility. Are there flow racks you’re not using? Kit carts that aren’t right-sized or ideal for your current work?
How does material flow through your eCommerce warehouse? Do your operators end up taking many steps back and forth across your warehouse? How can you save or minimize those steps? Here are a couple of ways to address this:
- Look for ways to reconfigure your eCommerce warehouse.
- Place the most commonly pulled items closest to your operators and order pickers.
- Are there products you haven’t kitted yet that you could start kitting?
- Do you have material handling solutions like flow racks, kit carts, or workstations that are just not working for your facility?
- Can you reconfigure things to better suit your current needs?
The hardest part of improving your facility’s kitting & assembly efficiency is taking the time to look around and identify your inefficiencies. If you can take just a little time to identify where your warehouse isn’t optimized, or solicit the help of someone to help with this exercise, chances are you already have the solutions you need to address some of those concerns.
02. Invest in Kit Carts
Kit carts, or kitting carts, deliver the affordable, right-sized solution your operators need. By implementing carts that fit your requirements, and kits your operators pick the most, you’ll be able to improve part presentation and save space on your shop floor.
Tube and joint constructed kit carts are also simple to reconfigure. Should your facility’s needs change, easily rebuild your kit carts to better suit another part or product.
With improved presentation of sequenced parts and products, one Geolean USA client saved an average of 21 seconds per cycle per operator. That’s serious efficiency with a simple solution.
03. Right-Size Your Process With Material Handling Carts
Make the kitting process faster with custom material handling carts. How many times is a product handled as it moves through your process to pack and ship?
The right carts move with your order picker as they put together those kits, minimizing touches and the potential for error. Whether pushing, tugging, or using an AGV, these carts are fully customizable to fit any product or material your team is flowing through your warehouse. In many cases, an interchangeable top hat cart design can offer even greater flexibility, as they are all built to fit on top of a standard-sized cart base.
As your needs change (and they will), you are able to quickly swap out that top hat for a new, right-sized solution for the next round of kitting or assembly. And, like any tube and joint solution, these material handling carts are easily reconfigured at minimum cost when you’re done with them to deliver greater efficiencies in other areas of your eCommerce warehouse.
04. Improve Kitting Efficiency With Supermarket Racks
Kitting efficiency is improved greatly when your operators can easily see and reach every part, without having to walk down aisles of product or pull from hard-to-reach bins across the warehouse. Supermarket flow racks are a simple solution to kitting efficiency, bringing the most SKUs into the smallest space possible. They bring high numbers of small parts and products directly to the operator saving space and time.
Supermarket flow racks are also a great solution for improving inventory turnover. When parts are loaded from the back of the rack, and picked from the front, your operators and pickers are always turning over inventory as it comes in.
05. Work in Progress Carts
When it comes to eCommerce warehouses, moving material from one station to another is often the greatest challenge, and where you’re likely to see the greatest inefficiencies.
Work in progress carts (WIP carts) help your team maximize efficiency by reducing handling as parts move through your facility and through each process. Right-sized for your parts and products, work in progress carts protect and store those kits and assembled parts until they’re ready to package and ship.
They’re also useful as a pull signal, offering a clear visual sign that connects the production schedule of two processes. Work in progress carts keep you flexible, and can help save space on the warehouse floor, and provide the perfect storage and transportation space for kitted and assembled parts ready to move over to packaging.
Geolean USA Is Here to Support Your eCommerce Warehouse’s Transition to Low-Cost Kitting & Assembly Solutions
Your warehouse is working hard to get orders out, all while dealing with material and labor shortages. You need cost-effective solutions and rapid implementation. The Geolean USA team is here to support you.
No matter what product you’re flowing or where you’re seeing inefficiencies in your warehouse, our team has a solution you can implement quickly. Geolean can help you implement any of the five solutions identified above, and many more custom options — all on your timeline. Let’s get your warehouse working more efficiently, for less. Contact our team for more information.