When you work in a production-based facility and run out of a critical MRO product, it can have a detrimental impact on your operations. Having a reliable, high-quality, MRO supplier deliver your necessary product just-in-time makes all the difference. But what goes into the process of getting it into the customer’s hand? From when you place the order to the moment you receive it, a well-run distribution center serves as the hub to connect customers to their industrial supplies.
Recently, members from the CoVest team received a behind-the-scenes distribution center tour at our long-term MRO supplier partner, Grainger, at the 300,000 square foot facility in Macedonia, Ohio to learn how it all works.
Although this Grainger distribution center is just a stone’s throw away from the CoVest headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, products are shipped far beyond the city limits, and across a large geographic network. This distribution center’s reach encompasses parts of northern Indiana, western Virginia, western New York, lower Michigan, half of Pennsylvania, and most of Ohio. In addition to the 14 U.S. warehouses, Grainger also has facilities and operations around the globe.
Stocking over 142,000 MRO and industrial items, the Macedonia site sees up to 12,000 products being packaged and shipped per day. While this is merely a fraction of the 1.5 million MRO supplies available throughout the Grainger network, it’s the efficiency of their facilities that makes it possible for Grainger to get products to their customers quickly and accurately.
How Grainger Ensures High Quality Service
There’s no question about the size and complexity of Grainger’s distribution centers. From moving high volumes of small items like batteries to large material handling equipment, the distribution centers must be extremely organized and maximized efficiently, for space and order picking workflows. Macedonia’s facility has received many noteworthy recognitions by excelling at three key attributes: quality control, speed, and accuracy.
It starts with selecting high-quality MRO products from trusted industry-leading brands. Before an item makes it to the distribution center, Grainger starts by having a comprehensive supply chain network of high-quality products. With such a wide assortment of industrial supplies, a dedicated team assesses inventory when it is received in the distribution center to ensure quality control, safety and proper storing. Product shipments range and can require different specialized handling based on labeling, whether it contains hazardous material, or how much the shipment weighs.
With a strong focus on safety, quality control is particularly important for Grainger products. PPE items are often highly specialized with different quality requirements depending on the application. From anti-vibration gloves to electrical-insulating gloves to flame-resistant gloves, offering an assortment of products to meet quality standards is critical for an employee’s safety on the job.
Any warehouse worker knows how much of a difference the right pair of shoes can make. Whether you need overboots, plain-toe work shoes, or safety-toe footwear, Grainger has the high-quality footwear you need. The Macedonia, OH facility stocks over 15,000 different shoes ranging in type, style and size, ensuring that quality meets comfort for any job.
With over 1.5 million industrial products available and a commitment to keeping your operations running smoothly, Grainger must move items at top speed while ensuring they are accurately connecting the buyer with their desired supply. Fortunately, order processing moves quickly with the help of Grainger’s advanced technology. Utilizing conveyor belts and a computer system that issues and tracks orders as they make their way through the warehouse, an order can begin in one module, and within minutes, arrive for final packaging and delivery.
Grainger also helps reduce the complexity of purchasing, managing, and utilizing inventory from the moment an online order is placed. Not only does technology aid in the speed of orders, but it also minimizes issues that can arise between order and delivery. With every employee having access to order data at their fingertips, each warehouse worker can instantly check order information and accuracy at each step within the packaging process.
Another method to ensure accuracy is Grainger’s use of audits. From comprehensive new hire training to various points within the warehouse, accuracy is a critical step as a product makes its way from a shelf to a customer’s facility. Because one order could make its way through several sectors of the facility with an item being added at each station, each package undergoes one last audit before being placed in a delivery truck. It is the responsibility of those working in the consolidation area to review each order, checking for accuracy, before finally sending the package out the customer.
Grainger’s expertise in warehouse inventory management extends beyond their own operations. Grainger also offers services to Members including MMRO, storeroom redesign and VMI services. These services help customers take control of their own inventory to ensure accuracy, efficiency, and cost management within their own facilities.
Why it Matters
All of the effort Grainger puts into creating a fast, efficient, well-run distribution center is to make certain their customers are receiving the best service and high-quality MRO supplies – accurately and efficiently.