EVOLVING DCS

ORLANDO, Fla. -- In addition to discussing ways to reduce fuel costs for transportation into and out of their distribution centers, retailers and wholesalers at FMI's Productivity Convention & Expo here delved into ways to cut costs inside their DCs.Here are some of their insights:* While manufacturers may want wholesalers to use slip sheets for unloading, Mark Foster, vice president of supply chain

ORLANDO, Fla. -- In addition to discussing ways to reduce fuel costs for transportation into and out of their distribution centers, retailers and wholesalers at FMI's Productivity Convention & Expo here delved into ways to cut costs inside their DCs.

Here are some of their insights:

* While manufacturers may want wholesalers to use slip sheets for unloading, Mark Foster, vice president of supply chain for Supervalu, Minneapolis, said they do not work well for his company. "Supervalu's research has shown that slip sheets can create unloading issues and may increase the potential for product damage," he said. Instead, "We're looking at roller blade sleeves."

* In a number of warehouses, Supervalu has established an activity-based pay system with standards. "We have found that activity-based pay enables drivers to increase their productivity via self-motivation," Foster said.

* Voice-based selection continues to prove valuable to food distributors. "Voice [picking] will be a part of what we do. We've had it in a lot of facilities for a number of years and have seen an increase in productivity," said Bill Parry, vice president of logistics for Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh. Foster agreed. "Since integrating this technology into our system, Supervalu has experienced a tremendous uptick in efficiency, including improved productivity and quality," he said.

* Giant Eagle executives are evolving their concept of the distribution center from a "batch" environment to more of a "flow-though" environment. "We have to understand that the days of the old traffic concepts are gone. We have to be part of the efficient flow of goods and information," Parry said.