Non-manufacturing activity ticks up for the month of April

Non-manufacturing goods continued to climb last month.

Non-manufacturing goods continued to climb last month.

There has been a lot of focus on how the manufacturing sector has been faring as the economy continues to face tests. However, there are other aspects of material handling that don’t include manufacturing that analysts continue to monitor as they try to come up with a comprehensive picture of the economy. Finished products on hand trucks in wholesale trade or retail continue to get pushed from warehouse to point of sale.

According to Modern Materials Handling, non-manufacturing growth ticked up in April by 3.5 percent to a 57.5 reading, which is growing for the 93rd consecutive month. Only one aspect of this group decreased, while 17 industries experienced growth, making for an overall positive report. Analysts tell the news provider that this news bodes well for business activity and for what managers have in store for the future.

This figure also beat analysts’ predictions. According to Economic Calendar, the original consensus for April had clocked in at a reading of 55.8. New orders of non-manufacturing materials also increased to a 62.4 reading in April, up from 58.9 in March. The source reports that mirroring what was seen in the manufacturing report for April, exports also strengthened in the non-manufacturing space.

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Retail sales, driven by ecommerce, continue to climb

Do you place a priority on your online supply?

Do you place a priority on your online supply?

Consumer confidence can have a major impact on the material handling industry, as workers have to make sure the warehouse is running smoothly and every aspect of the supply chain is being addressed. It goes beyond loading up pallet trucks with inventory and shipping them to the right location, material handlers also need to make sure there is enough supply in the warehouse to meet demand.

According to Modern Materials Handling, retail sales continued to see moderate growth during the month of April as online retailers played a major factor in driving consumer demand. The news provider reports that ecommerce sales alone were up 1.4 percent from March and by 9.4 percent since last April.

The news provider also reports that on a three-month basis, retail sales have increased by 2.6 percent annually. As retailers start to think about proper distribution in inventory, it may be wise to frontload more goods to the ecommerce distribution centers as opposed to store backrooms.

According to CNBC, store sales are continuing to fall as online platforms ramp up market share. While there are still some stores, such as home improvement and other DIY places, that continue to do well, retailers are finding they need to increase their support in their online ventures.

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How are you approaching material handling innovation?

How much of a priority do you place on innovation?

How much of a priority do you place on innovation?

Are you taking an innovative approach to your material handling operations? It goes beyond doing preventative maintenance on your equipment such as pallet jacks and lift trucks; while it’s important to have a thriving equipment fleet, you also need to stay productive from a technological standpoint.

The material handling industry isn’t alone. According to Modern Materials Handling, every industry is trying to think about how to stay innovative in an effort to be as productive as possible and take a larger portion of market share. If you’re known as an efficient material handler, you may be able to strike better partnerships with other suppliers and keep costs down while bringing in business. Innovation isn’t just about technology, it’s about the whole idea of outside-of-the-box thinking.

While software can help improve overall logistics, one aspect of innovation that companies should not forget about is safety. According to Automation.com, you want to be innovative in employee safety, which can help keep workers compensation costs down and help your bottom line. By being innovative in your equipment, you also want to think about innovations for your training. This can help keep costs in check and production up as you reduce the risk of losing employees to accidents.

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Think about packaging in material handling

Are you packaging inventory correctly?

Are you packaging inventory correctly?

When grouping together alike inventory in order to move them seamlessly with hand trucks, you need to make sure you’re being as efficient as possible. This line of thinking not only goes for moving inventory quickly, but also thinking about packaging solutions.

According to Modern Materials Handling, too often warehouses make the mistake about not choosing the right containers for their material handling storage needs. This means that space goes unused, and bulky containers make it more difficult to shelf multiple things on the warehouse racks. In an effort to be as efficient as possible with your containers, the news provider suggests taking a look at the total weight capacity and measurements of a container. By knowing the size and weight of your inventory, you can fill the containers smartly, ensuring you’re not wasting valuable space.

Properly packaging your inventory can also help with the overall speed of the supply chain, as the news provider points out grouping all like items together prevents a holdup on either side of the supply chain.

According to Multichannel Merchant, if you’re able to reduce overall processes – and limit the amount of shipments – you can reduce overall costs of your warehouse operation. By streamlining packaging, you’re able to keep things moving at an efficient rate.

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Is inventory management a priority?

Are you looking at optimization technology?

Are you looking at optimization technology?

Are you paying attention to your inventory management system? In an effort to stay competitive, many companies are trying to improve their delivery times and offer high-quality service. This means that everything from the pallet jacks to sorters need to be in full working capacity. However, have you looked into the modern inventory management offerings?

According to Manufacturing Business Technology, companies need to make looking into innovative technologies a priority. The news provider reports that one mistake a lot of managers make is simply looking at the production of the floor and setting that as a priority. However, it’s important to see how the flow of inventory is being managed, as this can be a good indicator of whether or not you’ll be able to keep up with production. If your employees are struggling to find specific items, it could lead to a slowdown in delivery.

Modern Material Handling suggests looking into different optimization tools and testing out how your supply chain is operating. However, you want to make sure you’re picking tools that require little intervention, because then it takes away from the human operations of your business, whose talents could be used elsewhere in the warehouse. If you’re able to find solutions that integrate into one platform, this can help streamline your processes further.

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Investing in quality assurance pays off in the long run for companies

What quality assurance steps do you take?

What quality assurance steps do you take?

Are you taking the time to inspect each piece of inventory that makes its way through the warehouse on a pallet jack? Taking the time to ensure high quality with all of your goods can go a long way in earning customer loyalty and ultimately driving profit margins within your organization.

According to Supply Chain Dive, making the investment in quality control can reap major rewards for companies in the long run. The news provider reports that this process should be set up for every aspect of the supply chain, from the creation of the product, to packaging to ultimate delivery. If any part of the experience is ruined, it could have lasting consequences in customer loyalty.

However, if there are some issues that creep by your quality assurance even after you have a plan in place, the news provider suggests going the extra mile for customer service in order to win back any customer loyalty that could have been lost from the issue.

According to the Small Business Chronicle, there can be quality assurance issues from outside providers as well, such as delivery companies, so it’s all the more critical to make sure there are standards in place before going into a partnership.

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Think about different ways to improve warehouse efficiency

Are you thinking about your warehouse and how to optimize?

Are you thinking about your warehouse and how to optimize?

How efficient is your warehouse? While you may have the right material handling equipment in place such as pallet jacks, hand trucks and forklifts, if your team isn’t communicating you could be slower than you realize. Efficiency is all about collaboration and communication, and while additives like software can help, it’s still important to have a well-rounded warehouse plan.

According to the Moderate Voice, the modern warehouse is only optimal if it has a communication plan in place, strong team work and is highly organized. If people are unable to work together or effectively communicate, there is a chance that processes may be repeated twice. Additionally, if your warehouse isn’t set up appropriately, you could slow yourself down. The news provider reports that you need to use every part of your space efficiently, which could mean stacking materials and organizing them in a way that’s easy to find.

Designing the perfect warehouse takes a lot of consideration. According to Inbound Logistics, you also need to be able to think about outside effects like the location of the warehouse. If you’re unable to properly get materials in and out of the warehouse based on location, you may slow down your production.

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There’s still room for workers in the warehouse

You need to be able to fulfill deliveries correctly.

You need to be able to fulfill deliveries correctly.

The material handling industry has experienced a lot of changes over the past several years, but one issue that has remained consistent is being able to find and retained workers with the right skillset. While there has been a lot of talk about the warehouse becoming more automated, there is still a need for human talent on the workforce to oversee the materials being delivered on the hand trucks.

Quartz reports that while a lot of the building processes in the warehouse can be done by robots, the actual packaging should still be completed by workers. This can help provide a layer of quality assurance as companies look to keep their customers satisfied in a very competitive market. When fulfilling orders, it’s important to have someone checking to make sure all the right materials are going where they need to. However, building components can be increasingly automated as technologies have advanced for certain processes.

Bloomberg reports that ecommerce and its unique ordering is what keeps people working in the warehouse. Because customers are looking for specific items within their orders, it’s critical that there is someone available to individually package each order. This helps reduce the risk that an order is sent incomplete or to the wrong individual.

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Supply chain flaws could lead to a loss in money

Are all moving parts of the supply chain reputable?

Are all moving parts of the supply chain reputable?

Omni-channel strategy is more important than ever, with everyone from the suppliers to the delivery companies to the material handlers working together to deliver the best product possible at an efficient pace to the client. However, a disruption, even the smallest instance of not having the right materials on the lift truck and delaying production, could affect overall revenue.

According to Material Handling and Logistics, challenges within the cross-channel system have led to revenue losses as companies look to increase their market share by providing the most efficient service. However, problems within the chain and customer dissatisfaction can lead to a loss in sales. The news provider reports 45 percent of suppliers have lost at least $1 million in revenue due to challenges within the cross-channel system. This means that any innovations need to be made in an effort to get all of the moving pieces of a supply channel on the same foot.

However, reality dive reports that industry leaders have found that by investing more of their margins into their ecommerce, they’re able to make strides in preventing supply chain fiascos from occurring. Making sure all managers of each aspect of the supply chain are on the same page is critical, so it’s important that when choosing providers, you do your research and make sure everyone is reputable.

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Do your research when picking a supply chain partner

Do you have a good partners in your supply chain?

Do you have a good partners in your supply chain?

Those in the material handling industry know the importance of having an efficient supply chain. With consumer demand higher than ever and companies trying to compete for market share, having a strong supply chain is a necessity. It goes beyond having the right material handling equipment such as pallet jacks and hand trucks, you need to have a strong team in place.

According to DC Velocity, it’s all in your supply chain research. You need to look into different providers throughout the supply chain and consider a lot of factors when choosing a partner. The news provider suggests looking into value, common interest and the potential partner’s processes and overall strategy. This can help you ensure that your supply chain goals align.

You also need to remember that recognition matters. According to Business 2 Community, look at a potential partner’s certifications to ensure that they are knowledgeable enough to comply with regulations. Additionally, if they have any certifications in using advanced technologies, they may be able to keep production going at an efficient pace.

The news provider also suggests looking into the financial information of any potential partner, as a poor revenue model can be an indicator that you should avoid going into business with them.

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