In warehouses and distribution centers, even small improvements in productivity and efficiency can have a big impact on the bottom line. The same can be said for facilities like Ronald McDonald House of Greater Charlotte where a team from Carolina Handling recently implemented a proven process of visualization, organization and standardization called Raymond Lean Management (RLM).
The 35,000-square-foot Ronald McDonald House on E. Moorehead Street in Charlotte has 28 rooms where families can stay overnight with the comforts of home while their sick or injured children are being treated at children’s hospitals nearby. And while the house has a full-time staff, more than 350 volunteers come to the house each month to cook, clean, participate in game nights and assemble toiletry kits.
From travel-sized shampoo and deodorant to toothbrushes and razors, volunteers are responsible for sorting and organizing donated items and packing them into personal kits for overnight guests. Housed in a downstairs storage room with cleaning supplies and a host of other items such as cribs and strollers that can be checked out by families, finding a spot to organize and assemble the donated items had become a challenge
That’s where eight Carolina Handling associates from the Continuous Improvement department and Intralogistics Solutions Group, and more than $3,000 in donated racking and bins came in.
Whether it’s through faster fulfillment, reduced waste, minimized downtime or improved quality, any operation can benefit from the advantages of RLM. One big advantage is increasing employee and volunteer job satisfaction, according to Ronald McDonald House staff.
“The Carolina Handling team identified an easy-to-follow process and provided a guide to our team to help utilize our space more efficiently,” said Chief Advancement Officer Kristin Young. “This process allows our staff and volunteers to easily find and grab items for families so that we can focus on our mission of providing a comfortable and safe home-away-from-home.
“Providing the comforts of home to 28 families at a time in a 35,000-square-foot house means needing a lot of space to store supplies such as toiletries, cleaning products, extra cribs and so much more. RMHC of Greater Charlotte is grateful for the amazing help from the Carolina Handling team of volunteers who organized our main storage room from top to bottom.”
In consultation with Ronald McDonald House staff, Carolina Handling associates determined the most often used items in the storage room, those who need access to them and how often. The room’s main aisle was redesigned to make toiletry kit components more organized and accessible to volunteers tasked with building the kits.
Plastic bins with lids were replaced with wide cut-out front opening bins for faster, easier picking. Bin sizes were determined based on size and type of component, with a label bearing the name of the item attached to each bin. Extra kit items were placed in bins on a rack off the main aisle for easy retrieval when replenishing.
Larger items such as bassinets and strollers that are checked out by house occupants were moved from a secondary aisle to the main aisle for better access and retrieval.
Three runs of shelving were reduced to two, allowing better traffic flow around racks. Cleaning supplies used by staff were consolidated onto a dedicated rack, opening additional shelf space for items such as laundry detergent used by families staying at the house.
Additionally, the portion of the room used for pop tab collection and storage was reworked with rack shelves set at bin height to give them a natural fill line and to prevent overloading. Bins were placed on a mobile rack, making them easier to move when transporting them to the recycling center.
“This was our first step helping Ronald McDonald House of Greater Charlotte optimize their operations,” said Joe Perkins, executive vice president of operations at Carolina Handling. “This first phase will help them operate more effectively, take care of more families in need and help change their thoughts around standard work and optimization.”
Here are the RLM steps designed to improve workflows and save time and money:
Gather and Analyze Data. Through a proven process of gathering data via visualization, organization and standardization, lean management can help operations gain visibility into the current state of an operation. Managers should regularly evaluate the data collected from their operation to evaluate and adapt warehouse operations accordingly.
Visualize Improvement Opportunities. Lean management methods are based on the philosophies of achieving the elimination of all waste in pursuit of the most efficient methods. This process begins with visualization. Visualization aims to make a situation easily understood merely by looking at it and can be accomplished throughout a facility with data displays, label and location markings and tool displays. Through visualization, an operation can share information, communicate standards and identify defects quickly.
Empower Your Employees. Lean management teaches workers to spot inefficiencies, errors or potential defects by providing them with practical tools to share their ideas and develop impactful, long-term solutions. By giving employees the opportunity to implement change throughout the organization, employees are more engaged, which results in higher morale and workforce retention.
Establish Standardized Work Processes. Standardized work creates clearly defined employee expectations and ensures consistency of labor and materials. By establishing standardized work processes, organizations can help eliminate or reduce non-value-added steps, resulting in higher operational effectiveness.