Situation

State Schools’ Relief is a charity that provides school uniforms and shoes to disadvantaged children across Victoria. They were founded in 1930 during the great depression to aid those in need. The service is available to all public schools where requests are submitted to SSR via an online application portal. Clothing is then delivered anonymously through the school to promote each child’s dignity.

SSR support 1 in 50 children state wide every year. However, with the reduction in government family support payments and cost of living on the rise, they are forecasting a 500% increase in demand to approximately 70,000 students over the next few years. With the expansion of operations, SSR decided to relocate into a warehousing facility – an environment which was new to them. This required detail layout planning and coaching on new OHS responsibilities.

Challenges/Improvement

Schools were often disappointed with incorrect or missing deliveries of requested uniforms. Key causes were stock shortages, stock misplaced and inexperienced volunteer errors. Work flow was very uneven which, on many occasions, resulted in volunteers either waiting for instruction or overburdened with too many items to pack at once. The latter proving a major problem with quality control, where pack contents and destination checks were often rushed.

Execution

Once onsite, TSSC Australia tackled the challenges in 4 focused objectives:

  • First, by studying the order process, all possible errors were identified and recorded as standard check items before approval. This included a simple inventory check to ensure stock is available.
  • Second, the pick and pack process was streamlined into an Heijunka system that ensured a level workload throughout the day and assisted with ‘next day’ workforce planning.
  • The third objective was to ensure an efficient warehouse layout to support minimised walking and robust picking operations based on high vs low demand clothing items. Safety was key, where critical ergonomic and environmental hazards were identified and countermeasured, e.g. shelving brought down and floor stock raised up to safe pick heights.
  • Finally, to ensure a sustainable operation, all efficiencies and safe working practices were captured in revised work instructions for reference and future training of new volunteers.
  • Results

    By applying concepts of the Toyota Production System to clothing distribution, the leadtime for picking and packing a student’s order was reduced by 70% from 768 seconds to 234 seconds. The resulting 344% increase in productivity allows SSR to support an additional 32,000 students per annum. Additionally, TSSC Australia and State Schools’ Relief will continue to work together to further increase capacity in order to achieve their goal of supporting 70,000 students by early 2016.