With that in mind, we did our time study on the process of unloading a trailer at the SAMs distribution center in New Braunfels, TX. The time study was done on April 05, 2014 and all 30 cases were timed during a nine-hour period. We attempted to standardize the process as much as possible by following the same unloader throughout the day as well as only focusing on trailers that contained 30 pallets. We asked the unloader to avoid any trailers marked as “breakdown” or with more than 30 pallets. Because breakdown trailers differ so much from pallet-pull trailers, a different time study would need to be done to find the standard time taken for those different trailer categories.
After examining the process, we were able to divide it into four elements; opening the trailer, unloading the trailer, closing the trailer, and moving on to the next. Opening the trailer consists of scanning a barcode located on the door with a gun that notifies all management and yard drivers that an associate is currently unloading freight out of that particular door. This element starts as soon as the unloader dismounts from his forklift and proceeds to open the door and raise the dock plate. The element then stops as soon as his gun is holstered and he is back on his lift. The second element then begins as the actual unloading of the pallets is initiated. This element then lasts until the moment he must get off of his lift to begin the next element: closing the trailer. Closing the trailer simply consists of lowering the dock plate, closing the dock door, and “closing” the door in the system via the gun so that the yard drivers and managers know that it is safe to remove the trailer from the dock. Finally, the last element of the process is merely traveling from the door they just closed to the one they plan on opening next.
As stated earlier, we followed only one unloader in an attempt to help standardize the process as much as possible. We started at 5:30 am and ended around 2:00 pm; the exact times can be seen in the time study attached. Since this job is typically done in ten and twelve hour shifts, we wanted to get the most realistic data that we could possibly get. Assuming that the loader would slow due to fatigue throughout the day, we stayed a full nine hours to see if we were correct in that assumption. Note that there are several foreign elements in the time study because of the breaks that needed to be taken every few hours.
With that being said, we still noticed that even though every precaution was taken to standardize the process, a lot of variability still presented itself in terms of the type of freight that was being unloaded, the way the pallets were placed in the trailer, what kind of pallet was used, the weight of the freight, if load locks were used to stabilize the freight, if air bags were placed in between the freight, and how much room was available for unloading on the dock. It’s important to keep in mind that the unloader came across several broken pallets throughout the day, pallets in which under normal circumstances he would need change before sending them to shipping. However, in those special cases, we simply asked the unloader to set the pallet in the lane as if it were in good condition and another associate would change the pallet so as not to affect the time study. All of these variables play a significant role in the day-to-day tasks of the unloader and will be accounted for in the percent allowance located in the time study.
The rating for each element was done based off of the standardized production goals already set by the