Posted by: Matthew Molinari | June 11, 2012

The Logistics of San Francisco

I spent this last weekend in San Francisco and the one thing I noticed relating to supply chain and logistics issues was the parking. It’s no surprise that parking in a big city can be difficult but there are lots of little logistics items that actually go into it if you think about it.

 At the hotel we stayed at there was a parking garage located under the hotel with a small drop-off area for customers to unload or pack up their cars. At first appearance, the space was too cramped and the entrance to the garage was in the wrong spot relative to where the cars were being dropped off. However, the valets had it down and there was never any congestion in the small space regardless of the demand being put on the system.

I think this shows one critical aspect of logistics that people sometimes forget about – experience. Sometimes, we rely too much on technology and figures to configure our operations and forget that the workers on the floor can have incredibly valuable knowledge.

This is similar to a kaizen approach which allows production workers to stop the line when they see an issue that is hurting production levels. Previously, this type of behavior was unheard of in the operations industry because operations decisions were supposed to be made by management and not those on the floor.

The people who see the day-to-day operations know what works and what doesn’t because they see it in action. Good planning can be a great tool but seeing the steps in action affords you additional knowledge that only becomes available once those plans are put into place and tested.

One of the best ways to learn about how your business operates is to actively seek the opinions and experiences of those who help run it. The valets running the operations probably aren’t logistics experts but they know what works best for the business because they experience what works and what causes problems.

What ways do you listen to your front line employees and use those suggestions to better your business?


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