April 9, 2020
The New Best Practices for Warehousing & Distribution
The removal of face-to-face interaction between carriers and warehouse staff has disrupted the tried and true systems and protocols that have been in use for decades to ship and receive product. Best practices for this new normal require a mix of technology and safety guidelines to keep goods moving, while still protecting drivers and facility staff.
1. Create a contactless pick-up with electronic documents and signature capture.
Before the global pandemic, digitizing documents and their workflows was key for gaining large cost-savings, improving customer service, and meeting green initiatives. Now, it’s critical for operational safety. We built M.Folio in 2017 specifically for the supply chain in an effort to streamline document workflows. Complete with electronic signature capture and a connected driver kiosk, M.Folio eliminates the need to shuffle, sign, view, touch, and approve physical paper, including bills of lading, invoices, packing lists, contracts, etc. The electronic document solution protects drivers and staff, eliminates face-to-face interactions and provides secure document access for remote workers. Most importantly, any facility can be up and running in less than seven days with 100% remote implementation and training.
2. Leave doors open.
By having doors open to shipping, receiving, and break areas, etc. you minimize contact with common touchpoints like doorknobs and handles.
3. Protect from claims.
Many companies discourage or have eliminated signature requirements for drivers altogether on bills of lading (BOL) as a short-term measure to maintain social distance guidelines and eliminate contact with physical items. This is financially reckless for the organizations involved as it creates liabilities and exposure for future claims.
4. Create a helpline.
Questions and special circumstances don’t stop because of what’s happened in the world. Simply post a sign with a helpline phone number that connects to a live person ready to answer questions or assist with any issues. This can replace on-site personnel who now work from home that were previously available to handle ad hoc situations.
5. Make consistent sanitization and disinfection actions a habit.
Ensure disinfecting stations are available throughout the facility, stocked with disinfectant spray and paper towels, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer. Encourage wipe down and cleaning of any common touchpoints, RF devices, and material handling equipment. Use consistent points in the day, like upon arrival, after meals, and breaks, to incorporate wipedowns into the schedule. Also, make disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer readily available to arriving drivers.
6. Make documents accessible.
When documents are digital, easily accessed remotely on any device, and most importantly, easily findable, it eliminates the need to ever be on-site to search through pallets of Bankers Boxes stuffed with paperwork. With a digital document solution, online/remote access can be granted to customer service, shippers, drivers, carriers, customers, and consignees.
7. Eliminate physical handoffs or collection.
Existing practices like scanning a driver’s license or distribution of shipping documents to multiple departments cannot continue. Create new workflows with digital documentation, utilize a connected driver kiosk, or pass necessary paperwork between parties by text or email.
8. Keep a safe distance.
The measures above go a long way to provide options for improved safety and reduced contact but above all else, the proven way to counteract COVID-19 is to stay disciplined with social distancing. While it’s difficult to separate from friends and colleagues, there is no better safety measure than standing six feet away. Audit your facilities to ensure this is possible. Look for narrow aisles and hallways, community rooms, and common entry points that can be reallocated for other purposes or where foot traffic can be rerouted.
MacGregor Partners is a leading software and consulting company focused on logistics and warehouse management. We help the world’s largest companies eliminate risk and complexity from their supply chains.