Rina Redelinghuys, CQuential WMS Customer Services Executive reveals the challenges posed by the complex warehouse management environment and how they are met.
I have worked in this industry for many years. The one thing that I can attest to is the speed of change and the impact this has on warehouse managers who are mandated with continuously looking for ways to improve and become more competitive. There is an ongoing trade-off to drive service excellence while maintaining operational costs to deliver against customer expectations.
The following are the main objectives of the modern warehouse:
In a series of articles, I will share tips around how the warehouse manager can achieve operational goals in the shortest timeframe.
The following areas will be discussed:
Supply chain professionals constantly search to find ways to reduce the overall cost of getting products from source to consumption – warehousing is no different. It requires the warehouse manager to take a holistic view of the operation to drive cost reduction within the facility.
Having said that, it is also important not to favour short term measures over long term sustainability and growth. It’s recommended that warehouse management executives still need to invest in new technology and infrastructure if they are to remain relevant and competitive in the long term. This investment will ultimately drive down costs and improve efficiencies.
To achieve overall cost reduction, the following areas should be considered:
Inventory Visibility – Visibility of the operation and inventory is critical to drive down operational costs. The benefits of improved inventory visibility are the following:
The objective of any operation is to utilise the full cube of the warehouse. This will drive down the storage cost per item, which in turn reduces the overall landed cost to the customer.
There are several options that a warehouse manager can explore to improve the utilisation of the warehouse:
The storage setup needs to be reviewed continuously to ensure the business gets the best utilisation of the warehouse space over time.
It is also important to contract services from a warehouse specialist regarding designing a layout that aims to drive storage optimisation. The specialist will be able to validate the current storage setup versus industry standards and suggest a layout that will work for your specific operational needs.
Cross docking is the transfer of product from the supplier directly to the customer reducing the need to store and handle the stock during the fulfilment process.
This type of model is well suited to the following operations:
The Benefits of cross docking:
Cross docking removes the storage link which eliminates the storage component within the supply chain. This type of model works and if implemented correctly will have a significant impact on cost reduction across the supply chain.
Catch my next piece which will reveal what is part science, part creativity – effective slotting.
Warehouse and inventory management are two crucial functions found in most supply chain companies. The competitive landscape is fierce, so it should be every business owner’s desire and ambition to get these two functions as streamlined and automated as possible.
In a recent article by NETSTOCK, they provided much food for thought on using solutions like spreadsheets to manage your inventory and warehouse. They explained why this is not sustainable or scalable for any business that intends to grow. We’ve collaborated on this article with Inventory Management experts NETSTOCK where we unpack symptoms that could indicate it’s time to look for a fit for purpose system in your warehouse and inventory divisions. This article will explore factors to take into consideration when investigating the vast number of tools and applications that are available, so that you can make the right choice for your business.
Let’s start by looking at your current systems and processes.
Inventory Management experts, NETSTOCK suggest that by answering the questions below in relation to what your existing inventory solution does or doesn’t provide, will determine whether you have a need that is currently not being met.
Now that you have a better understanding of your inventory management needs, let’s move on to look at your current warehouse management systems and see if they meet the mark.
We at CQuential provide some useful questions that you should be asking to help identify whether you have a need for a fit for purpose warehouse management solution.
At this stage you have most likely identified the need for one or both solutions – where to from here? There is a massive selection of available products, so it’s imperative that you have a solid plan in place before you begin. It’s critical to involve all the heads of your divisions, not only your warehouse and inventory management. Sales and marketing will have useful contributions to make, especially on the inventory management system requirements. Collaboration and communication are key.
Your ERP system is the foundation of your finance and operations and should be factored in. Of course, if you are not satisfied with your existing ERP, that is an entirely different scenario, but if you are, you would ultimately want to choose solutions that already have an integration to your ERP. Even if your ERP is an on-premise ERP, it’s wise to consider cloud-based tools when managing your warehouse and inventory. Cloud-based systems not only cut down on your IT expenses, but they give your staff 24/7 access to your operations. As we have all seen with the COVID19 pandemic, being able to carry on business functions remotely is of utmost importance.
You have narrowed down your choice of platform to cloud-based solutions and identified the players in the market for these solutions, now you can go deeper into product features, functionality, and capabilities.
By answering the questions below, you should be able to eliminate some products from your list and be left with a few to investigate further.
By now, you probably have one of two possible product offerings that fit your requirements and budget. The next step is to select a Partner that you can work with to provide the implementation, training, and ongoing service and support.
Many product vendors deal directly with the end customer, but if they don’t and instead use a partner network, they should be able to make recommendations. They know their partners’ strengths and weaknesses and can recommend ones they feel would be a good fit for you in your industry and your company culture. If this is not an option, get online and research partners for yourself.
Most partners will have online demos, but consider asking for a personal demo either online or physical if time and location permits. Keep your requirements gathering simple at this stage. A full-blown set of system specifications takes a significant amount of time, effort, and skill to put together. You can delve into the detail later when you have narrowed down your list of options.
Take the following into account and rate them accordingly:
The way the demonstration is handled pre, during, and post, will be a direct representation of what you can expect if you were to select them as your partner. Although this is not a necessity, it will help if your chosen partner has the same outlook towards running a business that you do. How do they approach customers? Are they proactive? How do they communicate? How agile or rigid are they? Do your business objectives align with theirs?
The final step is to firm up on your full set of system specifications. Make sure that these are thoroughly identified and agreed upon and that the partner can deliver on them. Select an employee that will be dedicated to managing the full project. Not only from the implementation and sign off but also from the entire change management process with users and all relevant stakeholders. If you put the right steps in place, with a well-thought-out project plan, there should be few disruptions to your business.
Once your users have settled into the new systems, and you start to see the dramatic improvements in efficiencies as well as the financial ROI and time savings, you will wonder how you ever operated without your new tools and technology.
Talk to us at CQuential and start your journey towards finding the right Inventory and Warehouse solution today.