Unloading General Merchandise with Destuff-it™


The management team at one of Canada’s largest general merchandise retailers was seeking to improve productivity at a distribution centre serving 488 stores. Demands to maximize operational capabilities caused the retailer to seek out innovative solutions to semi-automate the unloading process for floor loaded containers. Some of the company’s inbound docks were equipped with powered roller conveyors to assist workers, however, greater efficiency was required. Shipments of product varied from boxes to tires to poly-wrapped items. Because of the physically demanding requirements of the job, there were many worker injury claims.

Typically, the retailer unloaded containers using three workers: one removed the boxes from the container and two workers palletized. An average unload time for a container was 12 hours (36 man hours).


The Solution

The company was introduced to the Destuff-ITTM through an existing relationship with a supply chain integrator and an on-site trial was arranged at one of their facilities. The trial compared two side-byside identical containers, each filled with 2,400 boxes weighing approximately 30 pounds each. There were two teams unloading.

The team with no ergonomic assist worked with a stack of pallets and manually unloaded the boxes. To reach the top of the box wall, workers would use a step stool.

The team with the ergonomic assist had one worker on the Destuff-ITTM inside the container and two workers at the end of powered roller conveyor, connected to the ergonomic assist. Workers involved in the trial reported less fatigue using the Destuff-ITTM than the typical unload method because lifting motions were minimized with workers being placed in a more ergonomic position for handling boxes at all elevations.

  Conventional Unload Method  Unloading with the Destuff-it™
No. of People for Current Unit Rate 2 3
Average Time to Unload Container 17 hours 5 hours
Container Unload Rate (per hour) 142 480 
Total Man Hours to Unload Container 34 hours 15 hours

After analysis was completed by the retailer, they stated that using a Destuff-it would save the company $403 per container. This was a significant improvement to their bottom line.