Every warehouse manager is constantly looking for ways to improve performance on the warehouse floor. However, it can be difficult to discern whether your efforts are worthwhile without a standardized baseline to measure performance against.
Engineered labor standards are useful for measuring the amount of time it takes for an adequately trained employee to complete a specific task and make it easier to make adjustments that improve performance. To get started, consider these tips for creating engineered labor standards in your warehouse.
Implementing engineered labor standards does not require starting from scratch. In some situations, existing labor practices within your warehouse that yield good results could be implemented into your facility’s engineered labor standards.
Carefully documenting the labor that goes into an existing process also allows you to determine which steps add value and which do not. Simply removing the steps that do not add value could increase productivity.
Engineered labor standards can work in any warehouse. However, the specific needs of each facility may vary dramatically. That is why a warehouse manager should avoid uniform standards in favor of those that are tailored to a specific facility and its tasks. Labor standards in a warehouse should be engineered around conditions that are unique to that facility to account for every challenge or limitation a worker might encounter.
Once you have mapped out the work required to complete a process, it is helpful to break it down into steps. For example, while a warehouse process might include packing an item for shipment, the steps for that step could include traveling to an offsite storage location or navigating the facility to find the item, retrieving it, and transporting it to the packing area, among other things.
Breaking each process down into individual steps helps assign value to a worker’s time, giving warehouse managers more information on which labor standards might be non-value-added. It is not unusual for a single step to negatively impact an entire warehouse process for some workers.
While engineering labor standards is useful for any warehouse manager, it is critical to ensure your workforce understands what these standards mean and how they are meant to be used in your facility.
It is also possible to use engineered labor standards as part of an incentive program. While these standards can help identify workers who need improvement, they also show management which employees exceed expectations. Incentivizing your workforce could not only increase productivity but also encourage your workers to better understand the new engineered labor standards.
Engineered labor standards can be especially useful when relying on flex workers. While many gig workers are experienced in most warehouse operations, the use of customized labor standards could provide objective data on their performance in your facility.