How Continuous Improvement Became Part of Our DNA

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The supply chain landscape is evolving, and the key to staying ahead lies in your 3PL partner’s ability to innovate, adapt, and grow. NFI’s Supply Chain Engineering team has harnessed these elements to create a continuous improvement strategy that brings value to our employees and customers.

At NFI, continuous improvement is more than a practice; it’s a guiding principle that permeates every employee, business line, asset, and initiative within our organization. Our culture of ongoing enhancement creates a mindset of operational excellence, develops our people to succeed, and helps us to identify and invest in new technologies – all to deliver a leaner and more efficient operation.

Creating A Mindset of Operational Excellence

NFI One Program Navy Logo

Continuous improvement drives us to consistently seek growth, refine processes, and innovate for the betterment of our team and customers. Team members spanning all levels are empowered to examine their roles and processes with the goal of finding opportunities for enhancement; this is the basis of NFI’s One Program. Through this process, teams strive to streamline operations by eliminating unnecessary tasks. As operations become more optimized, work is completed more efficiently, resulting in quicker and more cost-effective outcomes for our customers and creating a mindset of operation excellence amongst our associates. This is a cornerstone of the One Program. Since participating in this program, team members in Distribution, Fleet Services, and Human Resources have instituted Lean methodologies to:

  • Reduce lead time
  • Minimize costs
  • Simplify complex processes
  • Improve their quality of work
  • Enhance employee engagement
  • Remove waste

Developing Employees to Succeed

NFI’s approach to continuous improvement involves creating an environment where employees from all levels collaborate to understand the intricacies of an operation. During this process, we use labor management tools to gather data on how long it takes to perform a task and compare individual performance against this data. Through labor management, we create a data-driven culture of accountability and increase employee engagement by implementing a formal coaching program. This program embodies a collaborative approach where leaders engage with associates throughout their workday. During these sessions, associates openly share their challenges and ideas for improvement. Together, they work to identify and remove obstacles, fostering increased efficiency and an enhanced work experience. This two-way dialogue ensures that employees’ voices are heard, and meaningful changes are made to create a more positive and productive work environment. 

Since enhancing our labor management functionality in over 30 facilities in under three years, we have increased efficiency by over five percent, resulting in more effective employee-manager engagement as well as providing associates with the opportunity to earn incentives for exceeding expectations.

Investing in Cutting-Edge Technology

Our customers and team members are at the center of our continuous improvement journey, each playing a pivotal role in helping to shape technology investments. Our team pilots many projects to ensure innovative ideas have real-world application in NFI and customers’ operations before rolling out solutions on a larger scale. We focus on implementing automation in the most labor-intensive tasks to enhance employee safety and provide opportunities for upskilling. From augmented and virtual reality wearables to inventory-tracking drones and autonomous robots, our innovation portfolio reflects our efforts to build workspaces that are people-led and technology-enabled.

NFI’s Innovation Categories
Machine Learning and Vision / A.I.AnalyticsAR / VR WearablesLocation / Proximity Detection
Bots/computers that make decisions and predictions

Image capture and automation processing
Predictive analytics

Real-time analytics

Immersive overlay technologies

Visual process control

Leverage proximity to execute process tasks

Real-time location systems
Robotic AutomationAutomation Vehicles and ElectrificationInternet of Things (IoT)Automatic IdentificationSafety
Digital and physical machines that operate autonomously

Process automation
Full and Semi-auto vehicles

Human assisted tasks

Electrification of assets
Smart devices connected

Process/machine ecosystems

Utilization of technology to eliminate manual touches

Scannerless workflows RFID
Ergonomic improvement

Incident mitigation

Human assist
Boston Dynamics’ Stretch Robot

Last year, NFI announced an agreement to deploy Boston Dynamics’ Stretch robot within our Savannah warehousing operation. Stretch, a mobile robot, automates the unloading of trucks and containers to create a better work environment for our employees. With its addition, our team members spend less time performing physically demanding tasks such as bending and stretching overhead and enduring container temperatures of 100 degrees or higher. This change has created a more comfortable and manageable work atmosphere for our team members and has increased productivity and efficiency within our customers’ operations.

Through the intersection of people-driven initiatives and technological innovation, NFI’s journey exemplifies the potential of a culture dedicated to continuous improvement. By creating a culture where everyone is empowered to enhance their workplace, we cultivate more streamlined networks and deliver cost savings that directly benefit our customers. Interested in learning more about how NFI can transform your supply chain? Connect with an expert for more information.