The Shipping team outside Mini-Circuits’ Deer Park, Long-Island facility.
The shipping team at Mini-Circuits’ Deer Park, Long Island facility processed over 100,000 orders and over 200,000 unique line items in the 2022 calendar year. That’s almost 400 orders picked, packed and shipped from the warehouse every business day, all year, before factoring in company holidays. On-time delivery is one of the company’s core performance metrics. Our ability to process and ship orders fast has a direct impact on customer experience, our competitive position in the market, and the company’s bottom line. That’s a lot of pressure for the team members on the ground.
Customer expectations for delivery time have accelerated with the evolution of the digital economy. While Mini-Circuits operates in a different market than e-commerce giants like Amazon, Ali Baba and the like, the trend is still the same. Customers have increasingly limited tolerance for delays in their project timelines waiting for parts to arrive. Complicating matters, global supply chain constraints and staffing shortages have strained the ability of virtually every manufacturer to keep up with the new pace of play.
When Senior Warehouse Manager, Nabil Mahmood joined Mini-Circuits in 2019 at the twilight of the pre-Covid era, he went onto the warehouse floor and processed orders like every other member of the team.
“You can’t really understand what’s going on until you actually work in the department,” says Nabil. “That’s true with whatever you’re doing, not even necessarily in shipping. In the beginning, my thought process was to make sure I was fully involved in everything that we’re doing.”
That hands-on approach to leadership and problem solving allowed him to analyze existing shipping processes physically and systematically, identify inefficiencies and collaborate with the team to define the tools they needed to improve. Make no mistake, the team was already operating at an extremely high level – improvement is a constant process when every second counts.
The changes were still on the drawing board when the pandemic turned the world on its ear in early 2020. Shipping members were suddenly on the front line, risking their health to come to work every day, ship orders on time and keep Mini-Circuits’ essential business strong. It would be one thing if business slowed while the world went into lockdown, but instead, the opposite happened. Demand for wireless technology surged, customers were ordering parts to pad inventories, and Deer Park was shipping orders as fast as production could manufacture them. Despite the formidable forces working against them, between 2020 and 2022, the shipping team succeeded in implementing several improvements with some impressive results to show for it.
With the help of Programmer Analyst, Peter Hoey and the AS/400 team, we worked with a third party solution provider to implement a new solution designed to increase operational efficiency by reducing the time between order completion and shipping prep. Even a small lag multiplied over hundreds of shipments per day creates a significant bottleneck in the process. With the new automation, shipping commences almost instantaneously once the order is packed.
“The new process is very convenient,” says Luke Bernales, who started as a shipper in 2020 and became a team leader in 2022. “We are always setting our goals straight to satisfy the customers’ demands. The higher the pressure, the better we perform. Without the help of all the members in Mini-Circuits (AS/400, Sales, Production Control), It wouldn’t be possible to reach our goals. Teamwork and positive environment are the keys to success.”
All members of the Deer Park shipping department are cross-trained so anyone can step in and process orders without hesitation for surge capacity or if team members are ever out sick.
The results speak for themselves. Average order processing time is currently half of what it was in 2019. Non-technical order returns due to shipping errors, while few to begin with, are now almost non-existent. The team’s impact on customer satisfaction is greater than ever.
The members in Deer Park’s warehouse are the last stop in the journey Mini-Circuits products make through our operations. In that sense, they’re the closest to the customer, and the work they’re doing every day has an especially sensitive role in customers’ perception of our service. The improvements they’ve made in a relatively short period of time and the level of performance they’ve achieved is an example to the entire organization of the culture of quality, speed and constant innovation that sets Mini-Circuits apart in the industry.
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