Weekends create bottlenecks at distribution centers that are tackled on Mondays as orders are processed, picked, staged and shipped to customers. Humans completing processing activities are impacted by adjusting to returning to work, more prone to errors and less efficient.
Most supply chain managers are unaware of this impact, Yao said, but they can take steps to counteract it.
Strategies include increased staffing on Mondays (or any day returning from a break, including holidays), fewer Monday meetings and non-fulfillment activities, better training, additional pay or mood-lifters such as free coffee or motivational talks, and double-checking Monday work.
The most effective way to reduce the Monday performance gap is integrating technology solutions, such as automated order-processing systems, said Yao, who found that use of electronic markets can improve Monday performance by as much as 90 percent.
For example, technology reduces the Monday performance gap by 94 percent in order-to-shipping time, 71 percent in complete orders fulfilled, and 80 percent in the portion of shipments that have incorrect numbers of products.
Technology was most useful in orders of specialized, less frequently purchased or high-value products, about which employees might be less knowledgeable.
“Technology is more helpful in substituting for labor when humans are more prone to making mistakes,” the researchers said. “Computer-to-computer links avoid potential human effects resulting from the weekend break.”
After all, for computers and machines, Mondays are just another day.