Using Peak Season for Next Season
Taking stock of your operations after peak season can set you up for future success.
For most companies, peak season is just around the corner, and that means you are ramping up according to plans you carefully laid out. From now through the end of the year, you’ll be managing volume that will increase up to 20 percent over the rest of your year. If nothing else, this time will allow you to see what works and what doesn’t in the final 100 feet of your operations.
One of the key areas for a successful or unsuccessful peak season is scanning, labeling, applying and manifesting (SLAM). If you can pick your products but can’t pack them, for instance, you won’t realize your needed revenues. Even worse, you may be hit with penalties from carriers and customers. During any season—but especially during peak season—packing, sorting and getting your packages out the door is critical.
Once you enter peak season, it’s easy to focus all of your attention on simply getting through. But for next year’s success, it’s a good time to pay attention to what’s working and what isn’t. To the best of your ability, noticing and documenting any issues will be helpful to your strategizing for next year.
Once you’ve made it through peak season, you’ll understandably exhale as volumes return to normal. While it’s tempting to rest and let normal operations take over, take advantage of the slower period and do a thorough review of how your peak season ran, both its successes and failures.
A good approach is to involve a wide array of operations management personnel in the review. Bring in human resources, for instance, to review the number of employees you used throughout peak season. Let them know if it was enough or if you could have used more hands on deck, and together, make a plan for next year bearing in mind that information.
Also consider what pieces of automation might have made operations run more smoothly through peak season. What is the cost of that automation versus simply adding more labor? Evaluate the costs over time—how quickly could you receive an ROI and how does that compare to today’s high labor costs and shortage of workers?
You should also look at any financial penalties you might have incurred for missed or incorrect shipping. What might be the cost/benefit of automation that could have prevented those errors? Packing, sorting, and labeling your packages correctly is never more important than at peak season, so knowing how you could have improved in that regard is essential.
Ultimately, you want a SLAM system that can take items and put them through the system in a fully integrated manner. Scanning, weighing, making labels that are carrier compliant and then sending it all off to sortation, kitting and carriers is your goal. Only when your SLAM operations flow smoothly can you ensure you are ready for the highest demands of the year. If you didn’t accomplish that this year, take stock, make a plan from the lessons learned, and look to have all your improvements in place long before peak season swings around again next year.
To learn more about MHI’s SLAM industry group: www.mhi.org/slam
More information about Scanning, Labeling, Applying, Manifesting: