A team of 6 River Systems employees on-site to help during peak.

Keep the excitement of the holidays in the right place: with the consumers.

Rich Otterman Last Updated: November 27th, 2019

A team of 6 River Systems employees on-site to help during peak.

For many shoppers, the holiday season excitement begins today — Black Friday.

For distribution center operators, the season brings the challenge of meeting peak volume and service demands.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasts that consumers will spend upwards of $731 billion this holiday shopping season, including $167 billion (23%) on e-commerce purchases.

Leave the excitement to the shoppers

6 River Systems (6RS) strives to help its customers make holiday peak a non-event through strategic planning and predictable fulfillment performance and throughput.

For operations with significant peak impacts, the collaborative planning process begins in the summer. That’s when 6RS’ solution design, customer support, hardware, and reliability teams begin conversations with customer operations leaders.

Typically, the facility GM, fulfillment leader and project leader participate in the meetings. The customers share their volume projections, potential operation impacts, obstacles, and peak objectives. Some facilities even mimic peak conditions by delaying order picking to create volume spikes. The insights gained through these efforts help operators to determine what changes may be needed to handle the increased volumes.

Labor impacts

6RS works closely with customer operations teams to understand their labor plans. This includes calculating the number of additional collaborative mobile robots, Chucks, that are required within the facility to support peak.

In facilities requiring additional Chucks, our team ensures that the new robots can work smoothly within the warehouse footprint and drive throughput. When that analysis is complete, the additional Chucks are built, delivered, and then deployed.

Process impacts

While most operators are concerned about picking activities, the pre-peak collaboration also revealed several other process challenges. Most notably, solutions designers found “breaking points” in replenishment, order packout, and other functional areas.

This review allowed 6RS to identify and resolve potential peak process issues in a controlled environment, making sure that the operations are prepared for — not surprised by — peak.

Peak tune-up and execution

In addition to strategic planning and stress tests, 6RS completed preventive hardware maintenance inspections and repairs at all sites expecting significant peak impact. During peak, 6RS will work with the facility leaders to address any unforeseen volume increases, fulfillment-related issues, or requirements changes.

This holiday season, 6RS plans to leave the excitement and surprises to the shoppers.