A Guideline to Change Processes: Material Handling and Storage

                            By: Garry Knight

Any company making changes to their operational projects, such as ordering a new forklift or processing machinery orders, will agree that this is a challenging procedure. It is important to acknowledge that the difficulty in the procedure does not lie in the process but in the change. From a supplier’s perspective, it is complicated to implement change when no change stipulations are available in the contract or estimation. Larger estimations should present with terms and conditions of change, but this is not always the case.

From a client’s perspective, it is significant that the change is implemented to ‘get it done’ in the way it needs to be done. The change may come before analysis of any change and this can have a negative impact on the project. This article will provide information on the guidelines to change procedures.

1. Identifying the Change

When changing processes in a company, it is important to identify where the change is coming from. Is it originating from the operations crew or senior management? Perhaps the staff triggered change, or was it the supplier? Make sure you do your best in locating the source early to avoid disruption in the processes. If you find the source of change early, you should be able to save a significant amount on cost; as well as prevent any overruns on schedules caused by extending project times. It is also recommended that you measure the level of change and note how it affects sales baseline. This is the expected result of the overall project.

2. Examine the Impact Carefully

When dealing with change processes, it is important to ask specific questions. How does the cost, quality, scope or schedule change; and does the change affect the overall result of the project (the performance baseline). Analyse what impact will new training methods or re-training staff on warehouse equipment or servicing pallet trucks and forklifts will have on the long-term efficiency of the company.

3. Creating a Change Request

Using a revised quotation, an updated proposal, an end-user request form, a sign-off sheet, and other documentation that different parties can review or reference, it is possible to create change requests. The process of all changes in the future should follow this procedure.

4. Assessing the Change

It is important to assess the change as it progresses. This can be done by asking certain questions, such as will the change affect the project in a significant manner? Will it act as a separate project or as part of the existing project? Furthermore, is the change essential to the functioning of the company?

An example is the requesting of wire mesh decks as an alternate and assumedly safer racking option for pallets. If this change request was conducted halfway through the production of the racking pallets, would it have included safety bars? Would all of the stakeholders be aware of the safety bars’ operations and would they be aware that the project was focusing on the safety aspect of the pallets? We should also note that ordering wire mesh decks is not a common change and may not be required at all once the idea had been explained to different stakeholders involved.

5. Looking for Options

It is essential that you consider all the options when requesting a change. What can be done differently versus the change request? What are the opportunities for the request and are there any threats?

Consider this example: the management team has approved a pushback raking system. All was in place, but no equipment had been scheduled for production due to implementation being set for 15 weeks in the future. If you are searching for ways to reduce costs in this project based on an unforeseen event, you might consider the concept of double deep racking. This will not only reduce cost but can also improve installation time and reducing lead time. While double deep racking may not offer an equivalent density level, it will offer advantages above the current project. The design will not change too drastically and it will have a simpler system will be used.

6. Consider the Approval of Change

Any revisions or small changes must be approved by the customer and supplier. Large changes require approval from the customer senior management or supplier. However, for approval to be gained from the supplier, it will be necessary for them to consult with engineers, manufacturers and other company partners.

From this point, we will update documentation as required and send the results to the relevant stakeholders. We will always do our best to manage client change requests and use a professional approach to track the requests whether they are small or large.

Marion Perdomo

Marion Perdomo