Meet The New, Leaner Fulfilment Department

Meet The New,  Leaner Fulfilment Department

There's so much that goes on behind the scenes, we kinda lose track of all the tweaks we make here at Scale Model Scenery to the way we do things. It’s not often we get a chance to reflect on how things have changed over the years or which changes have really made a positive effect on the way things run. Being a small team and usually being rushed off our feet we’re all a bit too busy to stop and think about it.

When we moved into this unit in June 2020 it was a completely bare shell… now we have a laser room and dedicated zones, for want of a better word, for each department, such as kit packing, fulfilment, dispatch etc. And they all kinda tick along nicely most of the time. But occasionally, usually when we’re away from work and doing something totally different we have a brainwave! And everything changes.

I’m honestly not sure how this one came about, though… possibly through a random discussion about implementing a few LEAN ideas after we’d finished processing a day's orders. We were looking at the shop floor and how it flowed and noticed a lot of paths crossing during picking and packing orders. How we’d not spotted it before I’ve no idea, but it just hit us all of a sudden.

While orders are being picked, whoever is working the fulfilment shift walks back and forth to the stock drawers, which is fine and works very effectively. The shelves with ballast and glues sat behind the picker though, which means a lot of pirouettes! Then once an order is picked the picker would have to walk around to the bench behind the packing bench to put the order in the queue for packing. Whoever is packing, then takes the order back to the packing bench (doubled-up journey) and packs it, then puts it on the dispatch shelves which sat behind the packing queue bench (another doubled-up journey). So any given order went back and forth probably 4 times between various benches before it actually ended up in a mailbag… And our static grass stocks were kept (temporarily for about 2 years) above the packing bench, which meant every time we needed static grass the picker had to either ask the packer to pass them a bag, or they had to walk around to the packing bench, ask the packer to move out the way so they could grab the required stock… Daft really when you think about it… so we had a shuffle around.

Instead of back-to-back benches and lots of doubled-up routes, we set the benches up in kind of a big “M” shape, with the glue & ballast rack to the left of the picking area. Static grasses were moved to sit above the picking bench (they may move again shortly). The area between the picking bench and stock drawers is now perfectly clear. Picked orders are then placed on the centre bench between the picking & packing benches. This bench with the order queue on is now easily accessible from both sides. 

Orders that are ready to pack are then taken one by one to the packing bench, packaged ready for dispatch and then placed on the shelves at the far right of the big M. The final step is labelling and dispatch which is now located at the bottom right tip of the M. This simple change has dramatically reduced picking & packing time and made the whole process flow much better. We’ve only shaved off a few seconds from the processing of each order, but when you multiply it out, it massively adds up.

4 seconds per order @ 100 orders a day = 2000 seconds per week

2000 seconds per week = 104,000 seconds per year

104,000 = A whopping 28.8 hours per year!

That’s equal to 3.6 working days!
That's just bonkers!


Leave a comment
Your email address will not be visible

Ohh extra days holiday for staff.

Or extra doughnut 🍩. Which ever they fancy

Please treat previous comment as fun

@Colin Dale Ha! Don't tell them ;-)

Your patient packers picked a pile of packets prior to precisely packing precious products previously placed on poorly positioned perches preventing premium performance.

Did I understand that correctly?

I was informed by a US TSA airport security agent recently of an acronym - the 5 ps. - used in the US military:



Prevent ts



Far too “gung ho” I’m afraid.

I preferred your serendipitous observation.

Well done, team at SCM...lovely newsletters and great Christmas layout videos to cheer the saddest of modeller!! Happy Christmas shunting to you all...x