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New Facility: Warehouse Moving Day

Oct. 1, 2005
Planning, and lots of it, makes the difference for Diebold's move into a new distribution center.

Diebold, Inc. needed to move, as quickly as possible, 24,000 SKUs valued at $50 million to a new 165,000 sq.-ft. Global Service Logistics Center 30 miles away.

"We were committed to moving our facilities without losing shipping time or missing orders," explains Dan Pittman, manager of materials and distribution. "Our goal was to make the move as transparent as possible to our customers."

Because its global business is expanding, Diebold, Inc. (North Canton, Ohio), a worldwide supplier of automated teller and electronic voting machines, decided to consolidate a warehouse and repair center into a single facility. The move will increase productivity, order accuracy and response time to customers, says Bob Fletcher, director of global service logistics.

The move planning process started eight months prior to the scheduled move date. The first step was determining the timing. Diebold managers decided to move over two consecutive three-day weekends.

"A different move schedule may have caused prolonged logistical issues, such as missing parts and the inefficiencies that would have come with operating multiple facilities over a longer period of time," Fletcher explains.

Next, Trommer and Associates (Akron, Ohio), which assisted Diebold with facility design and planning, recommended bringing in outside support to supplement its staff and manage the move. After a bidding process, Diebold contracted Anchor Enterprises (Cleve-land), a material handling engineering and services company, to plan and execute the move. Its president, George Archer, who has moved distribution centers for 28 years, says planning for a move needs to start when companies are considering the equipment that will go into their new facility. Trommer's president, Donald E. Kuzma, agrees. He points out that if facility planners are able to work with movers at this stage, they can make adjustments in the warehouse to make the move much easier.

Anchor Enterprises' first step was to complete a preliminary cost estimate that Diebold could include in its project budget. The mover's costs include organizing the move, trucking, labor and equipment such as crates, boxes and pallets. Diebold supplied most the labor for the move. Its costs included overtime for its employees, security, and food and drink to sustain them during the move.

From the start, Archer had regular meetings with Diebold's move team. The meetings kept everyone up to date on the move's progress. As the move day drew closer, he would leave them with tasks to accomplish, like reducing their inventory as much as possible and later tagging items with their current and future location.

"We really push the fact that this is going to be a team effort between Anchor and Diebold. It gives a certain amount of comfort to those involved," Archer explains. "You have to keep the customer in a comfortable state of mind because it is a drastic thing to make a move like this. People get nervous about it, especially when it is $50 million worth of inventory."

A big part of moving successfully is creating a planagraph and a blueprint that shows exactly where each piece of inventory will be located and the type of storage media in which it will be stored at the new facility. Such a tool can take six or more weeks to develop.

Thousands of hours were spent preparing for the actual move, Diebold's Pittman reports. The move team wasn't limited to those who worked in the ware-house—employees from all areas and at all levels assisted. The teams started tearing down rack a month before the move to create space for a staging area. A military-style chain of command established roles and responsibilities on the day of the move. There was a general with lieutenants, traffic controllers and emergency technicians at the old and new locations. Different color vests indicated rank.

"We encouraged associates to ask questions during the planning phase, and to follow the general's directions during the actual move," Pittman says.

Organized chaos is the best way to describe the move days. About 130 employees worked 10 to 12 hours days each move weekend. Diebold employees packed and putaway inventory; Anchor Enterprises manned the docks and loaded and unloaded the trucks, 350 truckloads total. The move took place in July, so pallets of bottled water and soft drinks were strategically located at both facilities. The hot weather did not dampen employees' spirits.

"As we reached the end of the move and associates learned about and observed our progress, the groups would literally cheer. Everyone took pride as they started to see progress," says Charles Metsker, manager of Diebold's new Global Service Logistics Center.

Diebold achieved its top goal for the move—no injuries. "We also strictly defined who could be in specific areas during the move process and used barriers to restrict access," Pittman says.

A few problems occurred during the move. A gas-line break in the area blocked traffic. Another challenge was the relocation of slower-moving products. Parts arrived at the new location faster than anticipated, and some of the storage racks were still being assembled.

Diebold managers's advice to other companies moving to a new facility is to emphasize the planning process. "You can never spend too much time planning or start too early," Diebold's Fletcher says.

Diebold employees in the staging area of the company's new Global Service Logistics Center.

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