I'm posting this to generate genuine debate.

I've spent 30+ years in warehousing, the last 15 years in management positions with some of the UK's best known companies (in-house or 3PL services). I'm absolutely amazed and confounded by the way in which the vast majority (talking 85%+) of non-food warehouses measure their performance / productivity levels and then go on to use these same values to plan workload and staff requirements. These operations will use one, or both, of the following:

A simple calculation Units Handled divided by Hours Worked provides a basic guide to productivity. This is usually tracked over time and used to calculate the resource needed to complete the daily workload (eg: the average UPH for the picking operation is 100 units per picker per hour, the operation needs to pick 100,000 units in 12 hours, to complete this they will convince themselves that they need 84 staff picking).

Essentially the same as UPH / CPH but using cost rather than time. The calculation total cost of picking divided by number of units picked provides an average cost per unit despatched. The aim will be to drive the cost part of the calculation down so that the average unit costs less to despatch than previously.

These are both nonsense measures for the following reasons:

1. Both are retrospective measures - by the time the calculation can be completed accurately the day is over and the result is known.

2. Both measures have built-in inefficiencies - both the Units per hour achieved previously and the Cost per Unit that results are influenced by the work rate of individuals. If, previously, 10 man hours were spent talking about last nights Football / Baseball etc. then the management team are, effectively, building this wasted time into every subsequent day.

3. Neither measure reflects what could have been - there is an inherent acceptance that the operation is as productive as it can be at this point in time. This is very rarely true.

4. There is no account taken of difficulty - I could pick 100 units from 2 locations, Joe could pick 100 units from 50 locations, a single UPH measurement would expect us both to take exactly the same time, despite Joe having to travel to an additional 48 areas of the warehouse.

To my mind there is one, and only one, accurate way to measure and plan warehouse performance - by using Time Study data along with a monitoring system to capture who did what, when and at what level the individual performed. This allows the management team the opportunity to compare individuals workers, teams or entire shifts to determine

There is, of course, a cost to introducing and maintaining a Time Study based system, along with problems of integration and designing a monitoring system, but these are fairly minimal once you consider that an unmeasured warehouse is, on average, 10% - 15% more inefficient than one using Time Study data

How do you measure your warehouse productivity and then plan your staff requirements?

I've spent 30+ years in warehousing, the last 15 years in management positions with some of the UK's best known companies (in-house or 3PL services). I'm absolutely amazed and confounded by the way in which the vast majority (talking 85%+) of non-food warehouses measure their performance / productivity levels and then go on to use these same values to plan workload and staff requirements. These operations will use one, or both, of the following:

**UPH / CPH (Units per Hour / Cases per Hour).**A simple calculation Units Handled divided by Hours Worked provides a basic guide to productivity. This is usually tracked over time and used to calculate the resource needed to complete the daily workload (eg: the average UPH for the picking operation is 100 units per picker per hour, the operation needs to pick 100,000 units in 12 hours, to complete this they will convince themselves that they need 84 staff picking).

**CPU / CPC (Cost per Unit / Cost per Case)**Essentially the same as UPH / CPH but using cost rather than time. The calculation total cost of picking divided by number of units picked provides an average cost per unit despatched. The aim will be to drive the cost part of the calculation down so that the average unit costs less to despatch than previously.

These are both nonsense measures for the following reasons:

1. Both are retrospective measures - by the time the calculation can be completed accurately the day is over and the result is known.

2. Both measures have built-in inefficiencies - both the Units per hour achieved previously and the Cost per Unit that results are influenced by the work rate of individuals. If, previously, 10 man hours were spent talking about last nights Football / Baseball etc. then the management team are, effectively, building this wasted time into every subsequent day.

3. Neither measure reflects what could have been - there is an inherent acceptance that the operation is as productive as it can be at this point in time. This is very rarely true.

4. There is no account taken of difficulty - I could pick 100 units from 2 locations, Joe could pick 100 units from 50 locations, a single UPH measurement would expect us both to take exactly the same time, despite Joe having to travel to an additional 48 areas of the warehouse.

To my mind there is one, and only one, accurate way to measure and plan warehouse performance - by using Time Study data along with a monitoring system to capture who did what, when and at what level the individual performed. This allows the management team the opportunity to compare individuals workers, teams or entire shifts to determine

**objectively**who is performing at an appropriate and acceptable level and who isn't, action plans can then be agreed to address any under-performance. This also allows managers to identify and correct any under-performance before it has an effect on the days output.There is, of course, a cost to introducing and maintaining a Time Study based system, along with problems of integration and designing a monitoring system, but these are fairly minimal once you consider that an unmeasured warehouse is, on average, 10% - 15% more inefficient than one using Time Study data

*(figures taken from the UK Institute of Industrial Engineers)*.How do you measure your warehouse productivity and then plan your staff requirements?

## Comment