This summer, a Georgia-based manufacturer of medical scrubs employed three ISyE undergraduate students as interns to help build a more efficient order fulfillment process.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the company experienced increased orders, shipping more than 20,000 units daily from its Lithonia Springs warehouse. The interns — fourth-year Mary Claire Solomon and second-years Gabi Falcone and Annie Robinson — knew their project was crucial to fulfilling the high demand.
They focused on implementing a process to quickly fix short orders, which are orders that can’t be completed in the first round of picking because an item is missing. The previous process of resolving short orders took five days or more, and as a result unresolved orders piled up.
Before devising and proposing ideas, the team conducted extensive research and worked in the warehouse, which was vital to optimizing the distribution process. While following social distancing rules and wearing masks, the students worked side by side with warehouse employees.
“We knew that getting scrubs to the doctors and the nurses in the field fueled their success,” Solomon said.
The outcome was a process they called “order hospital” in which a select group of trained pickers investigates short orders to ensure items are not in inventory and then determines if a replenishment is on the way or needs to be ordered. The remaining items in the order are delivered to the hospital; the missing items are delivered once they have been restocked.
As a result of this project, short orders can now be fixed in just one day and the number of orders that go through the inventory control team has decreased significantly.
H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering