Imagine that a heat-sensitive movie camera is placed within the ceiling joists of your distribution center looking down at the warehouse floor plan for one full year. Imagine that the camera visually records every labor activity performed over the course of the year. Now further imagine that this recording can be replayed in high speed such that the human labor shows up as red heat concentrated at the busiest areas of the operation. This analogy serves to provide the reader with a basic understanding of a warehouse heat map. It is essentially a tool to help managers understand the concentrations of warehouse labor over time. The heat map provides a powerful visual image of where efficiency opportunities may exist within a warehouse operation.
If you understand where people have been working within the building over an extended time period then you have taken the first step towards obtaining the information needed to improve operational efficiency. The next step is to study the effect of making changes to how and where the work is performed. For example, what is the impact on labor productivity if an alternate slotting strategy or a new warehouse layout is deployed? In the past, these types of questions have been challenging to answer with any degree of certainty. Today, the heat map accurately identifies in advance the exact amount of labor to be saved if changes to an existing warehouse operation are made. Yes it takes time to build a warehouse heat map, but the rewards of this approach far outweigh the time investment because it's always better to test an idea than it is to rely on guesswork.
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