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How to Make Daily Product Counts Faster

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Industries Retail How to Make Daily Product Counts Faster

This topic contains 11 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Chris Seider 3 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #55212

    Douglas H

    Hi everyone,
    Quick background, I’m currently working on my green belt cert, my dad is a black belt and has been guiding me But I dont have much help on this current quest so asking your advice.

    Where I currently work ( I’m not in a six sigma role and wont be getting a six sigma job for a while)
    We need to complete product counts twice daily, even for a 4 or 6 hour shift. It is retail company, and we have to count roughly 750 items each day. It takes about an hour so most shifts 2 hours are spent counting when it really should be used helping customers.
    Ive done everything I can to decrease the time it takes. Everything is meticulously organized and labeled. All my zones are clear and obvious.

    Asking for any input on how to reduce the time it takes to count.
    Thank you in advanced, I am a member of The forum but on mobile and couldnt login for some reason.

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    #199174

    JB
    Participant

    Assuming you have no flexibility in counting fewer items, or counting less frequently – I think your only other option is to look for the waste in the current counting process and brainstorm solutions for reducing that waste. Walk the counting process carefully looking for the 8 wastes (waiting, over-production, rework, motion, over-processing, inventory, transportation, talent). From the talent standpoint, maybe there are certain staff members that are just naturally quicker at it? Or, staff members that have a slightly different counting process/method that could be leveraged to other staff?

    Just some ideas…. Interested to see what others think as well.

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    #199175

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    Daily counts by hand….sounds highly non value added.

    I wonder the reason for this expenditure. This can’t be happening at ONE store location can it?

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    #199176

    Douglas H

    Here’s a little more info,
    Its a sunglass hut, I have to count every single frame in the store at open and close. This location is inside a macys and is partially staffed. I come in generally 10am-4 or 6pm so the store is always open when I’m there. No chance to count while customers arnt inside.
    All Utah Sunglass Huts are doing this double daily count.
    I am lucky my store only has around 750 frames. Most actual stores (not inside macys) stock around 1250 frames.

    I am going to ask higher ups if there is any way I can reduce my inventory, we have a lot of pointless stock. Triples and duplicates of frames people never buy. (ive been with the company 1.5 years at this location and know what people buy)
    But I doubt they will listen to me and i doubt I will be able to reduce my inventory.
    Any time I sell something they replenish it within a week and also sometimes send me a few extra.

    I have done what i can to reduce motion during the process. The store is small, walking around to check the display cases is easy, as long as everything is full I know all the numbers off the too of my head. Its counting the back stock that is painful.
    It is located directly behind the cash wrap (desk and cash register) so its extremely close to where I do the count.
    There is only one other employee besides me and he is brand new, he seams to be fairly quick at it, but 1 hour average is still too much.
    I am going to start documenting as much as I can.

    The back stock glasses are bagged and in boxes, clearly labeled, and about 25-30 per box. Yesterday I received some larger bags and double bagged frames in the hopes that counting by twos and handling less bags would be faster.

    This might become my green belt cert project and if I do it right it could be implemented company wide. Thanks for the help so far. I will start documenting as much as I can asap.

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    #199177

    Shelby Jarvis
    Participant

    So far, you have received good input and questions. Possibly a clue exist in your previous statement. If I read it correctly, you stated that it is relatively easy to count the displays due to being able to see if all the frame locations are full. The lesson is that if inventory is visual it is less of an issue to count.

    You should work with your team to see if it is possible to make counting your stock visual. Some ideas to help the brainstorming:
    * Speak with other stores to see how they handle this. Maybe they have a solution.
    * Can you orient your fast moving frames together and your slow moving frames together?
    * Can you place seals on the packages that must be broken to provide the product to the customer? Then you only count the packages with broken seals.
    * Can you make a special location to place packages which have sold during a shift? The concept is if something sells, then the inventory is counted. If it doesn’t sell and it is sealed, then it is not likely to have changed.
    * Can you implement cycle counting? This concept is counting a sample of items each day and through a period of time, all products are counted. (This will require approval from your leaders.)

    One, some, or none of these ideas may work. Some are repeats with slightly different applications. the key is, if you assemble your team you should be able to develop ideas to test.

    Good Luck

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    #199181

    Glenn

    Do you have to count by frame type? Why not just count the gaps in the display and subtract? As long as they tally to sales?

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    #199183

    T

    You Six Sigma guys are a trip!

    Consumer stores count inventory to ensure they’re not being lost/stolen – while it’s tedious, ensuring that no employees are taking items (or being taken by the customer) adds value.

    I feel like the structured, problem solving methodologies of Six Sigma have you all thinking inside the box.. It’s simple, it’s taking too long for him to count the products that they offer – let’s not turn this into an engineering battle to show how smart we can be..

    I like Shelby’s response (sure, it’s the only response with any help) visual counts. Maybe you can look into a way of placing identifiers across your display that would easily be checked to see what was there and what is now not there. Almost like a Kanban system that your team manages/participates in just by doing their daily duties.

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    #199184

    JB
    Participant

    I hope I’m not the only one that finds it funny that some variation of a visual Kanban is “outside the six sigma box thinking.” ;-)

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    #199185

    T

    JB – it’s not out of the box thinking but gets him on the right track.

    But hey, if that doesn’t work, let’s evaluate the 8 forms of waste! Then, we can see who’s the most talented at COUNTING sunglass frames.. JB’s six sigma expert idea, hire people who can count.

    That sounds about right..

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    #199187

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    T,

    Respectfully, I’d say you need to look at the definition of waste or muda. Counting items doesn’t provide value to the customer who’s buying sunglasses. No one I know of is willing to pay for inventory control so minimizing the time and expense is a good idea but don’t tell me that the value of sunglasses increases every time it’s counted.

    Glenn’s idea is nice on reducing the non value added time of counting.

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    #199188

    T

    Chris,

    Again, overthinking it.. It’s a sunglass hut, they’ve obviously had issues in the past with frames being misplaced/missing. This is not a policy that they’ve put in place to increase value for the customer.. this is the part that gets me upset with Six Sigma.

    This is a policy that they see as critical to their business (why? we don’t know..).. I think Douglass was looking for a Six Sigma methodology that helps with quick inventory counts – he doesn’t need an EFMEA or lesson on the 8 forms of waste. As Six Sigma professionals we often like to propose a massive change to processes.. I think this thought process has pushed us away from being able to implement common-sense small changes that make sense to their business, which is a sunglass hut.

    Let’s not be quick to overcomplicate the counting of inventory but try to simplify the tedious task.

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    #199192

    Chris Seider
    Participant

    T,

    Interesting perspective on me overthinking. All I’d say is it’s not my role as a change agent/leader to not point out wasteful activities and question their validity. My past clients are glad I challenged the status quo because of examples that include a 20% increase in throughput with a simple manpower change on a production line.

    It would be improper to say the chairs on the Titanic needs to be arranged so I could count faster. My point is that if counting inventory to measure shrinkage is the largest problem in the stores, then go ahead and work on the original premise but I suspect other issues exist that might be considered.

    Your point is understood but comes across as a bit rough but I guess that’s what a blog is all about..an exchange of ideas.

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