Archived Flow Team Process

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I was wondering what the process was for other stores when it comes to flow team. I'm in development to becoming a team lead and one of the things I'm expected to do is give suggestions weekly on how we can make our flow team process better. We don't technically have any major issues, just minor ones that I've noticed can be fixed with just a few changes. Anyway, I'd like to share my store's process and see if you guys have anything to add or suggest to make our flow team 'flow'.

We're a medium to high volume store with truck sizes ranging from 2000 - 2500. We receive only one truck, and we start the unload at 4am. We have two unloaders in the truck, along with 6 or 7 people on the line putting freight on its respected pallets. We have one team member on the receiving side. We have two pallet pullers while softlines grab their own pallets whenever they are called on the intercom. The unload takes about an hour and then the team is sent straight to the A run, following to B and so forth. We have one person in charge of C&D repacks, and also pushing them. We have one person sorting the HBA repacks, but the flow team pushes the sorted carts. Towards 8am, the only thing that is usually left is toys and sporting goods and they stay on flats.

During the unload, we have one person bowling out pets and chemicals, one person bowling out C&D, one or two people for market, and one person for HBA. After the unload, one or two people are sent to the B run to bowl out and push that area, which usually takes 45 minutes. Then the repacks for that area take about 30 minutes to push, and then they do stationary after. Stationary varies, it could take only 30min to sometimes an hour and a half. The HBA repack sorter goes and does cosmetics, which also varies like stationary. The C&D repacks are sorted and pushed and takes up to 8am, mainly because that repack sorter is bowling out the whole run before being able to start on repacks.

The only thing I really know about the softlines team is that they have about six people who push that whole side. They're sorting till about 6am, right before break. They never finish by 8am. They seem to get done around 9.

Baby is done by one person alone for the whole morning. They also take till about 8:30 or 9am.

Shoes is also done by one person. That area gets done before 8am.

Electronics has one person. She's super fast though. She gets done before 7:30am.


Whew, that's my store's process. Are you guys any different? Is there anything that can be done to be more efficient? The only thing that I can think of is getting a rotation set up for unloaders so that the same team members aren't unloading the truck. I think that's incredibly unfair and that takes such a huge toll on your body. No matter if one person is better and faster at unloading than others, it needs to be shared. My other suggestion is to have two people doing HBA repacks alone without the whole flow team. This can keep the team going without standing around trying to find where a facial moisturizer goes (we lack PDAs in the morning and have none for flow). With the two same people doing repacks, they can learn where things are located and go by what they know. And then the same two people who finish HBA repacks can go to Stationary and start on that while the B team is working on freight and small appliances repacks.
 
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Are there any areas you notice that consistently miss time lines? It can give you a good idea of where to start.
 
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People need to own their areas and be held accountable if they don't do a good job. Just like electronics and baby. When you do a wave, people slack off and generally don't care. One morning I had a PDA and was helping flow in grocery. I asked a flow TM what they do with stuff that has a second location at the cart well. She looked at me like I was crazy.
 
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Sounds good, a few things we do at my store. We have 1 repack person that does the repack break out for everyone in the store and she is breaking out HBO repacks while we unload. Once unload is done she stays ahead of the repack team breaking out while they work it out, we have 4 total on the repacks counting the break out girl. They are usually done with all repacks by 8am or pretty close depending on cosmetics. This allows your wave team to concentrate on just floor freight and where they were using time with the buggies in HBO they might be able to get another area done possibly.
Softlines should have 2 break outs, this is best practice but not everyone follows this. Your hanging should be 1 breakout with the folding being the other, and shoes in there somewhere I guess. This gets the breakout for us at least done quicker because they like to talk ALOT and when 1 breakout is done they can start working to get a jump on things.
 
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We very recently did the separation softlines that way, but were told to try putting both hanging and the other stuff onto one pallet instead of two. Softlines will work in one area, breaking out all the repacks together. It should be faster in case one area gets hit harder, but I don't really know softlines that well. I know one breaks off to do shoes and one or two will do baby hardlines after a while.
 
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We very recently did the separation softlines that way, but were told to try putting both hanging and the other stuff onto one pallet instead of two. Softlines will work in one area, breaking out all the repacks together. It should be faster in case one area gets hit harder, but I don't really know softlines that well. I know one breaks off to do shoes and one or two will do baby hardlines after a while.

Without actually seeing this and not knowing how it works for you I have no idea. However this doesn't sound good to me, I don't see a logical way they can breakout with efficiency because of the z-racks and the horseshoe carts, with the pallets being mixed they are going to have to do extra steps to get to one or the other. Where if its separated the horse shoe is surrounding the pallet of folding and the z-racks surround the pallet of hanging.

Now every store is different and what works for one may not work for another, this is just my opinion. I am in the same boat at you as well, I don't know much about Softlines, I try to stay away from there. ETL and I have walked the floor and just seeing them talk, and talk and talk was reason enough for us to separate them.
 
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Sounds good, a few things we do at my store. We have 1 repack person that does the repack break out for everyone in the store and she is breaking out HBO repacks while we unload. Once unload is done she stays ahead of the repack team breaking out while they work it out, we have 4 total on the repacks counting the break out girl. They are usually done with all repacks by 8am or pretty close depending on cosmetics. This allows your wave team to concentrate on just floor freight and where they were using time with the buggies in HBO they might be able to get another area done possibly.
Softlines should have 2 break outs, this is best practice but not everyone follows this. Your hanging should be 1 breakout with the folding being the other, and shoes in there somewhere I guess. This gets the breakout for us at least done quicker because they like to talk ALOT and when 1 breakout is done they can start working to get a jump on things.

I actually really like your repack method. Having a team of four people doing repacks alone for the whole store seems more efficient and it shares the workload. I feel also that with the same four people doing this job, they can learn where repeat items go from memory. The lack of PDAs in the early morning is always a headache. If we can get a team of repackers together, we could possibly be able to bowl out and push toys and sporting goods fast enough before 8am.

From what I know about softlines, it seems that it used to be how you describe best practice, but for some reason our team mixes the hanging and folding repacks together, even though we have two pallets on the line during the unload. I feel either we separate the pallets as best practice suggests, or we just keep one pallet on the line for softlines so that we can fit the shoes or onespot/checklanes pallet on the actual line. Both shoes and onespot/checklanes sits passed the line at the very end, making it where the pallet builder has to move around pallets and obstacles to get to them. This is only a minor setback, but still something we can adjust for better efficiency.

We don't really have an issue with softlines talking while working. Honestly, I think they all hate each other which doesn't help for team effort. I think we just have problems with them reaching their goal times since they tend to be the last group done with flow. They have more than enough team members so I think it's just more about creating a better plan with them or even trying out other team members over there. If my team lead and ETL allow, I may ask if I can work with them for a shift or two to better understand the process.
 
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People need to own their areas and be held accountable if they don't do a good job. Just like electronics and baby. When you do a wave, people slack off and generally don't care. One morning I had a PDA and was helping flow in grocery. I asked a flow TM what they do with stuff that has a second location at the cart well. She looked at me like I was crazy.

I completely agree with you. We get a lot of food avenue/checklanes products put on the market pallet and nobody seems to want to walk them over there. That's actually one of the suggestions I wanted to bring up to my ETL. I know a lot of the guys just stare at the department number and not the location while on the line, but I find it easier for me to look at the location of something and judge which pallet to put it on that way. Reason being that our store had remodel about two years ago and our department numbers are all mixed up now. With that in mind, if some of the guys on our line would give a glance at the location, we could better sort our pallets.

Our team lead has started auditing our backstock now while timing us. That has helped tremendously with getting items in their second locations.
 
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We recently fixed all the block numbers so they're nicely in a row with our pallets on the line. It's nice because it makes it harder for the no-so-smart ones to miss the giant 70 on the label. I'm not sure why you'd go by department number, it's the slowest identifier compared to the location and block number. Nothing should be ending up on market, the boxes should be marked FA or CL and we send that to the one spot flat to be given to the front-end people to do.
 
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How's merch protection? I'm looking to improve this aspect as it's TERRIBLE in my store

What do you mean 'merch protection'? Like damages from the truck or items getting stolen? Sorry! I haven't heard that phrase before. :]

I would imagine he is asking about how you guys are doing with keeping the white repacks in their designated cage and/or how you are doing with the empty package check or the amount of damages from not using step stools or boxes from falling off the line. Lots of little things their.
 
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Ah, I gotcha. As far as I know, we don't have problems with white repacks going directly to the electronics cage. We were having trouble with team members stealing in the truck, but they always get caught and terminated. Lately it hasn't been a problem. I'm not too sure about how the guys are doing in the truck while they're unloading. Rarely am I ever on the line. I'll have to bring that up with my ETL when we have our discussion tomorrow.
 
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I completely agree with you. We get a lot of food avenue/checklanes products put on the market pallet and nobody seems to want to walk them over there. That's actually one of the suggestions I wanted to bring up to my ETL. I know a lot of the guys just stare at the department number and not the location while on the line, but I find it easier for me to look at the location of something and judge which pallet to put it on that way. Reason being that our store had remodel about two years ago and our department numbers are all mixed up now. With that in mind, if some of the guys on our line would give a glance at the location, we could better sort our pallets.

Our team lead has started auditing our backstock now while timing us. That has helped tremendously with getting items in their second locations.

For some reason we have flow on the back of the line sorting backstock. I don't know why it's not a BRTM. (I guess we need them to pull.) They seem to sort by sales floor location, which doesn't always work out. Especially when items that are near eachother on the sales floor are on opposite sides of the backroom.
 

mrknownothing

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We get a lot of food avenue/checklanes products put on the market pallet and nobody seems to want to walk them over there. That's actually one of the suggestions I wanted to bring up to my ETL. I know a lot of the guys just stare at the department number and not the location while on the line, but I find it easier for me to look at the location of something and judge which pallet to put it on that way. Reason being that our store had remodel about two years ago and our department numbers are all mixed up now. With that in mind, if some of the guys on our line would give a glance at the location, we could better sort our pallets.

Our team lead has started auditing our backstock now while timing us. That has helped tremendously with getting items in their second locations.

When I was overnight and had to help flow, we would have a 3-tier in market that was specifically for checklanes and Food Ave. because they didn't separate it out on the line. Instead of going with the backstock and finding its way to the aisle full of challenge tubs, it would get pushed later when flow moved up to the front end. (Yes, our flow team pushed One Spot.)
 
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Ah, I gotcha. As far as I know, we don't have problems with white repacks going directly to the electronics cage. We were having trouble with team members stealing in the truck, but they always get caught and terminated. Lately it hasn't been a problem. I'm not too sure about how the guys are doing in the truck while they're unloading. Rarely am I ever on the line. I'll have to bring that up with my ETL when we have our discussion tomorrow.

Sorry for the vague question. I'm more curious about when security items that aren't electronics get pushed to the floor. Pots and pans, Dyson vacuums, chi irons, etc. Who applies the spiderwraps/blister tags before they are pushed? I'm constantly finding these items on the floor "bare" when I come in and it becomes an issue when we don't have AP in the building until after 8 am.
 
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When I was overnight and had to help flow, we would have a 3-tier in market that was specifically for checklanes and Food Ave. because they didn't separate it out on the line. Instead of going with the backstock and finding its way to the aisle full of challenge tubs, it would get pushed later when flow moved up to the front end. (Yes, our flow team pushed One Spot.)
That's what I'm talkin bout!
 
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Ah, I gotcha. As far as I know, we don't have problems with white repacks going directly to the electronics cage. We were having trouble with team members stealing in the truck, but they always get caught and terminated. Lately it hasn't been a problem. I'm not too sure about how the guys are doing in the truck while they're unloading. Rarely am I ever on the line. I'll have to bring that up with my ETL when we have our discussion tomorrow.

Sorry for the vague question. I'm more curious about when security items that aren't electronics get pushed to the floor. Pots and pans, Dyson vacuums, chi irons, etc. Who applies the spiderwraps/blister tags before they are pushed? I'm constantly finding these items on the floor "bare" when I come in and it becomes an issue when we don't have AP in the building until after 8 am.
When I came into my store merch protection was horrible but something I found that worked was putting a marker like the grey dots on all the items that are supposed to have merch protection. That way the flow team knows it needs some spiderwrap love. I'll send you the part number for the marker I got from SAP.
 
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The other store in my town has the bullseyes printed on the label strip. We still use the stickers.:(
 
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Ah, I gotcha. As far as I know, we don't have problems with white repacks going directly to the electronics cage. We were having trouble with team members stealing in the truck, but they always get caught and terminated. Lately it hasn't been a problem. I'm not too sure about how the guys are doing in the truck while they're unloading. Rarely am I ever on the line. I'll have to bring that up with my ETL when we have our discussion tomorrow.

Sorry for the vague question. I'm more curious about when security items that aren't electronics get pushed to the floor. Pots and pans, Dyson vacuums, chi irons, etc. Who applies the spiderwraps/blister tags before they are pushed? I'm constantly finding these items on the floor "bare" when I come in and it becomes an issue when we don't have AP in the building until after 8 am.
When I came into my store merch protection was horrible but something I found that worked was putting a marker like the grey dots on all the items that are supposed to have merch protection. That way the flow team knows it needs some spiderwrap love. I'll send you the part number for the marker I got from SAP.

Thank you, that would be very much appreciated!
 

Rock Lobster

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The best advice I can give when attempting to improve any area is to print out the Best Practices. Then go through and highlight anything that you see your area is doing differently than what the Best Practices says. I then ask myself, are we different because we improved upon this Best Practice, or are we different because we just plain ignored it? While the saying is true, "all stores are different" it is also true that all Best Practices are the same company wide!

Once you find your major differences, that is where you should begin! If you are executing everything to Best Practice, then there is nothing more you can do! If your trucks are still being worked after 8AM it is not because of the process, but because of staffing or talent management (or just a huge truck!)
 
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