There’s a “ber” in the month, which means that for some, the festive season has arrived. Certainly in supply chain circles, it’s time to start anticipating the seasonal uplift in throughput and making plans to meet the extra demand.
If this will be your first Christmas in a supply chain management role or you just need some ideas to avoid being caught out by the seasonal flood of orders, the following five tips for handling seasonal supply chain peaks should help you to plan ahead more effectively.
1. Extend your DC storage boundaries
Exceeding the standard capacity of your warehouses or distribution centre is a common seasonal issue. That means it might be time to get inventive with your use of space in your facility. Can some products be stored outside of the warehouse in your yard? Is it practical to close off some aisles and use them for packing or other processing tasks? With a bit of forethought, it’s surprising how much you can increase available storage space.
2. Prepare quick-hit training programs for temporary staff
Work with your human resources team to develop an abbreviated training program to quickly bring seasonal workers up to speed with your workflows, site layout, safety code and common procedures. This will enable temps to ramp up quickly and deliver optimum productivity.
3. Plan appropriate tasks for temps
Try to divide the workload in your facility in a way that keeps the most critical and complex tasks in the hands of your permanent workforce. Simpler and less skill-intensive activities are the ones to farm out to temporary staff during seasonal supply chain peaks.
4. Shift your shifts around
Consider extending standard shifts by an hour or two per day for the peak season; add an extra day if you normally operate five or six days per week, or even introduce an extra shift on a daily basis.
5. Prepare to work with some Plan B service providers
You might need to work with some extra carriers or other service providers during seasonal supply chain peaks. Identify the providers you want to work with now, and test them with some work before demand dictates that you use them.
These are just a few ways to help you meet the seasonal supply chain peak at Christmas time. Perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind is that peak demand calls for some creative thinking. Since we’re already into the “ber” months, it’s best to put your thinking cap on now, giving you time to prepare seasonal solutions and have them in place when the rush kicks in.