Saturday, February 26, 2011

Column #55 - You must be smarter than that

Customers needing parts… new system don’t work, what ever are we to do? For the next 4-6 weeks, I can recall sending my men into the warehouse to pull a part from the brand new shelf, write it up by hand and then take it to downtown Jackson’s UPS store to ship it out. It was not a fun time. One of the real ‘burners’ was that the head of P-C sent out a nice little letter to our dealers about the situation – did he accept responsibility for too little testing? Nope. The letter told everyone that there was a deteriorating situation in Memphis that caused an earlier than expected start date for the new warehouse. Problem was, this was a bogus deflection because Memphis had been working off of Jackson’s time table- not the other way around. It was just one of many side-steps by the ‘new guys in charge’.

The real problem was that there had simply not been enough system testing to ensure that it would work properly. It took an untold amount of man hours with extra systems engineers working almost around the clock, to finally begin to see some daylight at the end of the tunnel. In my opinion much, if not all of this could have been avoided by the easy fix of hiring the most experienced person to manage the new warehouse, but the personal bias curse, prevented that…and we suffered for it.

In the grand scope of things, the people who were trying to move out of the 80’s, skip the learning curve of the 90’s, and jump right into the 00’s of paperless warehouse management systems were way in over their head, but they had too much pride to admit it. They had neither the education, nor experience, to pull this off. Case in point: early on, my guys and I detected a trend in the warehouse management team - they thought the ‘system’ was god. By that I mean all of the computer-generated instructions were followed…even when they made no logical sense.

Check this out- at that time there were 23 or 24 Factory Service Branches and once a week, the warehouse would pack up a 4x4x4 export box with all of the parts they had ordered and ship it out. OK, so along comes the new system, a bunch of new Delta parts and you must remember the difference in the 2 companies: Porter-Cable = portable power tools, Delta = stationary woodworking machines.

Stay tuned next week for the continuing adventure…

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