The COVID-19 pandemic has created unforeseen problems in the supply chain. Just visit the paper products aisle at a nearby grocery store and you’ll see first-hand the results of these challenges. While it’s worrisome to be short on toilet paper, having a shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) is a matter of life and death.
Indeed, healthcare and other front-line workers depend on protective clothes, masks, gloves and other supplies to properly and safely do their jobs. If they can’t access PPE, the lives of their patients – and their own lives – are at risk.
In many cases, the bottleneck has been with the manufacturers. They simply cannot keep up with demand. But in other situations, it has been a distribution problem.
While warehouses and distribution centers tend to operate very efficiently, the massive increase in demand has caused processes to break down. Warehouses optimize for their normal, day-to-day volume. They are not designed to handle double or triple the throughput that is being thrust upon them because of the pandemic.
However, some warehouses have remained efficient and have quickly adapted to the spike in volume. To be sure, they’ve experienced some pain. It’s no easy task to expand warehouse hours, quickly ramp up staffing, and constantly deal with frenzied clients. But even amidst all the chaos associated with the pandemic, they’ve been able to continue to operate in a controlled, streamlined manner.
They’ve been able to maintain efficiency because they utilize Opendock dock scheduling software.
Opendock allows warehouses to set a schedule for each dock door. They then allow their carriers to book dock appointments, just as if they were booking a haircut. It’s a simple process, but it has a profound impact on warehouse operations.
An inbound supervisor at $9 billion healthcare distributor said, “Without Opendock during the COVID-19 volume surge, it would have been a catastrophic failure.”
By utilizing dock scheduling software, warehouses are better able to “load level.” This means instead of all the trucks showing up on Monday, for example, when trucks arrive is spread more evenly over the week. Warehouses that operate the more traditional first come, first served model are not able to easily load level. Thus, they are among the ones struggling to deal with the jump in volume. Indeed, one large food distributor recently reported lines of trucks at the warehouse spanning more than two miles.
Plus, with the clear visibility into the incoming loads that dock scheduling provides, warehouses are able to optimize their staff planning. If you know exactly what’s coming and when, you can more appropriately schedule your team.
So while a shortage of toilet paper is definitely a problem, no one is dying because they have to use facial tissue instead. However, if hospital workers and other first responders do not have sufficient access to PPE, people may die. But the good news is that many warehouses that distribute healthcare products are using the Opendock dock scheduling system. This is allowing them to quickly and efficiently distribute products to those who need them most.