Written by Darren Seckman, IT Help Desk Supervisor
Operations Engineer II Roland Vazquez-Molina is no stranger to the pursuit of excellence and continued education. A mastermind of curiosity and improvement, Roland leaves no stone unturned—no matter how unorthodox the solution may be. Roland is never afraid to ask “why?” and has made a career of finding opportunities in the obvious.
In Roland’s continued development of his education and engineering license, he is required to participate in “personal development” hours. This can include teaching, attending classes, and other development opportunities, such as submitting research to a professional journal.
Roland was recently working on a warehouse sequencing project at Dot Foods Georgia. In a conversation with Director of Warehouse Operations Nick Bowman, Rowan decided this project would be a great submission for case study research and analysis.
You might be asking yourself, “What is warehouse sequencing?” Roland defines this as “How does a material handler know where to go for their next task? Which aisle are they going to next?”
Conventional sequencing in the Vidalia warehouse is very similar to how a car radiator functions—in an up and down fashion moving through the aisles.
Roland wanted to test how the warehouse would flow if material handlers moved, or sequenced, their picks in a circular motion rather than in the traditional radiator path of travel. In this way, no matter where a person is in the warehouse, they are always at a shorter distance to their next task. Think of it this way: If we, as consumers, started in the middle of a grocery store, rather than at a specific aisle, we would be closer to every other part of the store when we begin shopping.
Roland then started researching the theory to see if anyone in the industry had attempted a warehouse sequencing change like this in the past. The results? Roland could not find a single bit of evidence that this had been attempted before. He then submitted a case study to the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (ISE) for other engineers to evaluate and review. The change in warehouse sequencing proved to be successful, and Roland’s case study was published in the April 2021 issue of ISE Magazine.
“There are some specific things that made the Vidalia distribution center (DC) a good candidate for this approach that are not necessarily present at all sites,” said Bowman. “We intend to look at another site that might benefit from a similar approach. But, without doing the analysis, we don’t know if it will have the same benefits.”
If nothing else, Roland’s work is proof that the boring and obvious could be the next big thing that takes Dot to the next level.