This client’s growth left them out of room and with inefficient packing areas. At SSI, we built them a reliable system, allowing them to reduce manpower while increasing productivity.

The Who

Checker Distributors is a family-owned business employing about 150 employees. They supply over 100,000 different types of sewing and quilting products to mom-and-pop shops throughout the US, Canada and Europe.

SSI has worked with Checker since their first steps into automation, helping them integrate 30 horizontal carousels to greatly improve their picking efficiencies. As their growth continues, they needed equipment and a floor design that could accommodate the increases in their outbound shipping operations.

The Challenge

Create an efficient packing area that reduced wasted movement, improved employee morale and was implementable while Checker continued operation uninterrupted.

We needed an answer that eliminated the need for so much movement and kept the company in their existing space.

Their growth required that they add packers and there was no more room to do so. Given the fast pace of the job and being boxed in, the employee turnover was a nightmare, hiring 120 people per year for 24 positions.

Checker was spending time and money hiring and training people they couldn't retain. We knew we could devise a plan that would create a more satisfying work environment for their employees while maximizing the facility's efficiency and effectiveness.

“The extra steps our old system required were killing us, we couldn’t keep up.”

– Jim Steedman, Operation Manager

The Results

Our plan allowed Checker’s production to decrease from 2 shifts to 1 shift – even with an increase in volume.

They were able to do more work with 20-30% less manpower.

Our design also gave employees:

  • better light to work in
  • •efficient work areas
  • better tools to do the job

With SSI, Checker was able to experience organic growth while retaining more employees.

“The process really worked for us.”

– Jim Steedman, Operation Manager

Proposed Plans of Attack

Checker already had some thoughts about what would fit their needs. SSI worked with these ideas, and collaborated with Checker employees and management to develop a design that everyone was comfortable with.

We proposed a realistic solution that included:

  • maintaining operation during the equipment install
  • tying into their existing conveying system
  • a system designed for extra growth and non-linear production.

This type of system was equipped to take up highs and lows, curtailing wasted resources and manpower.

What Made SSI the Best Choice

As part of the big picture, we looked at the solution we proposed and talked about when it might not work anymore. This way we knew the limits of what we were doing and what steps we could take to eliminate huge issues down the road.

Our plan ultimately yielded:

  • something that allowed for change in the future
  • comprehensive implementation without shutting them down for more than one day
  • no wasted money on high-tech equipment that wasn't right for their facility

Implementing the Solution

Checker’s solution took about a year to completely implement. SSI provided over 30 designs for consideration.

Our final design contained a lot of automation and enabled Checker to go from two shifts to one, even with an increase in their volume.

We not only train on the equipment we sell, we service it. Systems are like tools and we realize that sometimes there’s a learning curve with employee usage. We’re one of the few integrators that services equipment we install.

How It Works Now

So, how did Checker increase their volume and completely eradicate an entire shift?

SSI's plan:

  • resulted in fewer human touches
  • gave Checker the ability to introduce incentives and bonuses
  • provided increased consistency in employees
  • delivered consistency in their packing

We love the relationship and familiarity we’ve developed with Checker and we’ve enjoyed providing the tools with which their success will be built.

“SSI put us in the best position to grow our business.”

– Jim Steedman, Operation Manager