Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Logistics of Joel's New Christmas Toys


Well Christmas has been and gone and I hope you had a good break whatever faith persuasion you have.  With Christmas came toys for Joel, my two year old son.  Joel is articulate for a two year old but we have yet to discuss warehousing but he is clearly developing his own views and trying to communicate them through his toys.
Joel’s mother and I prefer a centralized storage system with a just in time logistics (JITL) approach to toys being available for play.  Joel however likes to disaggregate his toy stock and has a number of places that he likes to preposition “stock” for immediate use later on.  Both of these approaches are valid and widely used in aid and development.  Some employ a hub and spoke system and some go galactic with satellite stores orbiting a stellar  central warehouse.
The key is to know your supply needs to work out which is appropriate for you.  The Logistics Project frequently advise on just this subject. Joel has not sought this advice even though he is on good terms with one of the principal consultants.  Despite this he has achieved some successes in his decision making but also some more worrying logistical developments.
Joel’s quick wins
It became obvious at an early stage that small rubber toys that could squirt water were rather specialist and this category became known as “bath toys”.  Bath Toys were removed from the Ma&Pa central store and taken to the bathroom a specialist storage facility for toys that are good in the wet.
NO COLOURING PENCILS
Joel also works with controlled substances, mainly crayons, pencils, play doh, paint and generally sticky stuff.  These items need specialist storage systems and expert supervision in their use.  To store these items with the main “stockholding” of toys would have limited the access to the non controlled items meaning there would be less playtime facility on uncontrolled items.  By negotiation Joel and the controlled substance authorities found a spot in the understairs cupboard that both were happy with.  In this way all the responsibility for the controlled substances passes to the warehouse provider.
Joel’s tough lessons
Joel was clearly passionate about prepositioning “play stock” but hadn’t thought through his strategy.  He stumbled in a few key areas:
  1. Accessibility - down the back of the sofa was not a good choice although it seemed relevant at the time, for low value and unimportant items such as building blocks there was no imperative to move the sofa to use this play stock.
  1. Inventory -  Joel disaggregated his stocks from Ma&Pa central stores without having an adequate system for recording the new locations and the locations he chose were not intuitive.  The fire truck under daddy’s pillow was not discovered until well after the toy town fire department needed it.
  1. Consumption - Joel likes to lump all of one category together in one area, in some places such as the bathroom that made sense but in other areas he hadn’t considered consumption.  All the soft toys in his play tent was OK until he wanted them in other locations where they were inaccessible.  Equally all the Lego blocks upstairs required a large heavy lift capacity (aka Daddy) to move them downstairs for general play.
Now Joel is only two and in my eyes is growing to be a pretty neat little loggie, and if his toy fire chiefs hat becomes a real one in times to come these logistics skills will still be of great operational use.  If this little story left you bamboozled as to what I am talking about you may need a storage audit.  If you find stock missing, arriving late or your movement costs being exorbitant it may mean you need to look at how and where you store things.
It is just a couple of days to 2012 so we would like to wish you all the best from all at The Logistics Project.

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