Date of Submission
Industrial & Systems Engineering
The following project focuses on Woodstock Furniture & Mattress Outlet’s (WF&MO) distribution center located in Acworth, GA. After visiting the site and speaking with their management team, we were tasked with evaluating their current processes to get a better understanding of what areas needed improvement. Three inefficiencies were identified, in the CPU and knockdown area, which impacted the company’s customer satisfaction and inventory management. First, customers experience long lead times in receiving their items at the facility’s customer pickup area, which leads to high levels of customer dissatisfaction. Second, employees assemble products, also known as dropbox items, that are not paid for by customers to be assembled, which increases labor and costs for WF&MO employees. Lastly, there are chairs in the facility’s knockdown area, which do not receive labels from a box due to human error and undefined processes. As a result, WF&MO experiences lost inventory and attempts to fix the problem by reprinting new labels.
To begin identifying potential solutions for these inefficiencies, our team performed a time study analysis on the customer pickup area during peak hours. We recorded customer arrival time, order announcement time, the time an order was brought out, and departure time. Using these times, we created an Excel spreadsheet to determine inter-arrival time, order recognition time, order picking time, and loading rate time. Our team also created a list of recommendations to reduce lead times in the customer pickup area, which included installing an overhead sign to designate each lane of customer pickup and adopting a scheduling software, specifically Sign-up Genius, Microsoft Enterprise, and Google Forms. We processed these recommendations alongside our time study analysis data in Arena, a process analyzing tool, to determine optimal solutions for customer pickup. After analyzing the Arena results, our team determined the total number of employees needed to reduce lead times in the customer pickup area to be as follows: two front associates, three order pickers, and two floor loaders. Using this solution, waiting time for customers to get their items, excluding loading time, dropped to under 11 minutes. After modifying the Arena model to include scheduled pickups and overhead signs, our team performed a cost-benefit analysis to weigh the impact of each recommendation. Our cost-benefit analysis concluded that allocating two front associates, two pickers, and two floor loaders would provide a six-minute reduction in waiting time for customer pickup at a lower cost than the original solution. Our models indicated that adopting scheduling options such as Google Forms would reduce customer pickup time by 15 minutes, and overhead signs would increase service rates for customers.
Our team created two separate root cause analyses for the knockdown area, which included one for the dropbox item and the missing label problem. These analyses provided our team with a better understanding of the root causes in the knockdown area, and human error was a common cause of inefficiency in both processes. In addition to the root cause analyses, we filmed a set-up time comparison analysis of two employees each building one stool. We analyzed how each employee built the stool to determine if recommendations were needed to improve the process. Through our analysis, we discovered one employee completed their set-up time 28 seconds after their fellow employee due to a different approach to their set-up.
With this information, our team recommended designating two to three carts in the knockdown area to minimize how many times items are touched. In addition to this, we recommend implementing a workflow system between departments for incoming dropbox items that were not sorted earlier on in the shift to improve communication. Lastly, our team recommended investing in a video camera to perform a time-motion study, which would enable WF&MO to develop an SOP for the knockdown area.
Lindler, Elissa; Wolf, Nate; Hayes, Jeremiah; and Washington, Rachel, "Woodstock Furniture & Mattress Outlet Facility Flow Evaluation and Improvement" (2022). Senior Design Project For Engineers. 69.