Chick-fil-A Supply is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain. It is a warehouse located in Cartersville, GA that handles the distribution of all products that Chick-fil-A restaurants use in an area of the southeast United States. It was started in March of 2020, so it is relatively new. It runs all of the basic processes that a normal warehouse has like intaking inventory, processing orders from the restaurants, and loading trucks to deliver goods to those restaurants. It operates on relatively low number of SKUs and has to process the orders in less than a day.
The problem facing the client is in regards to their intra-day labor allocation system. Given the infancy of the warehouse, they have been using a fairly manual process of allocating floor workers to various tasks that need to be accomplished throughout the day. This has been working for them so far, but the warehouse is scaling massively to service more and more restaurants over the period of the project, from 91 at the beginning of the project to 215 in June of 2021. They are also planning on staffing many more employees per day, from 35 at the beginning of the project to 60 at full scale. The current process for allocating labor mid-day will not survive the scaling of the warehouse because the current process that warehouse supervisors use is very time-consuming and manual, taking up to 4 hours per day out of a supervisor's shift. Supervisors either use the current warehouse management system software to run reports, which is slow to run and often incomplete, or physically observe what is happening on the floor to collect data, which requires them leaving their office, which takes a lot of time. Additionally, the utilization of floor workers (68%) is too low to maintain a good pace going into full scale. By streamlining the labor allocation process for supervisors and reducing the amount of time they spend doing that, they will be able to make more intelligent labor allocations, raising the amount of direct work that the floor workers do, ensuring that the disproportionate amount of work they are intaking will be matched by the number of employees they will hire. If this does not happen, there could be massive overtime charges or restaurants could go without the necessary supplies needed to serve their customers. The main opportunities that our team identified were a lack of supervisor visibility into relevant data, and a few select indirect tasks that were not contributing to the floor worker utilization percentage (IWAIT and ISTART).
To address the problem of streamlining the supervisors' decision making process for labor allocation, we needed to consider several things: the warehouse, due to its infancy, was a turbulent environment that constantly undergoes process changes that could interrupt any process changes we recommend. Also, the supervisors have a very good decision-making sense that was being bogged down by a lack of information. These two factors lead us to believe that putting information in the hands of the supervisors would empower them to make the right decisions. The idea to increase the supervisor visibility into relevant data, therefore streamlining their process, was to deliver dashboards to the supervisors that show them metrics and progress of the dashboards, as well as ways to reduce the indirect tasks that do not contribute to the floor worker utilization percentage. The design of these dashboards was accomplished by interviewing the warehouse supervisors responsible for making labor allocation decisions, collecting feedback on desired features and tweaks that we could make to previously developed features.
Our deliverables were in two parts: first, the Tableau dashboards, which consisted of two Work in Progress dashboards that show overall progress of the warehouse in several different breakdowns, as well as a Labor dashboard that tracked more information about the specific tasks employees were working on and the summary of how individual employees are working throughout the day. The Labor dashboard also shows metrics related to the utilization percentage of both the warehouse and employees. The dashboards show information that supervisors needed to make important decisions, and have various triggers/alerts built in to them to show supervisors when some action needs to be taken.
Also, we created a series of dashboard navigation tools based on the alerts/triggers mentioned earlier to assist the supervisors in collecting the right information to handle certain types of situations, like if one section is too far behind another one. This will help make sure that supervisors are using the dashboards as quickly as possible, allowing them to make more and better intra-day labor allocation decisions, reducing the amount of time they spend on it, and improving the overall performance of the warehouse.
Value and Impact
The value of this project comes in three parts:
1. By increasing the performance of individual employees by making sure they are in the right place in the right time, there are many employees that were budgeted to be hired by the time the warehouse hits full scale that no longer need to be hired. This has been calculated to be 17 floor workers, totaling $1,099,142 in annual wages that no longer need to be spent since fewer workers can accomplish more work in the same amount of time.
2. By streamlining the process warehouse supervisors use to make labor allocation decisions, there were some supervisors that were budgeted to be hired by the time the warehouse hits full scale that no longer need to be hired. This has been calculated to be 6 supervisors, totaling $624,000 in annual wages that no longer need to be spent since fewer supervisors can accomplish more work in the same amount of time.
3. There was an option to purchase a software add-on package from their current warehouse management system provider for $190,000 annually that would provide some, but not all, of the features that our dashboards would provide. Our dashboards provide more features and information than this software package, which would have similar impacts in savings for supervisor and floor worker wages, but our dashboards accomplish these savings for free as they were developed by our team on a Tableau software that CFA Supply already has a license for, so it is at no additional cost to the company.
The total of these savings comes to $1,874,800 annually. Not only will this save the warehouse this amount of money that would have been budgeted, but it also establishes best practices for warehouse management that would be an example for future expansions of Chick-fil-A Supply warehouses in the future.