Warehouses come in many different shapes, sizes, and support a wide variety of services. Whether your facility is for direct-to-consumer (DTC) eCommerce, manufacturing products, or solely distribution, warehouse managers are responsible for ensuring that their depots correctly fulfil their business’s current needs whilst also showing consideration for predicted growth trends. The Supply Chain Network explores the different ways that you can reach your distribution facility fulfilment goals in 2021 while also making plans for future business developments.
1. Assess your current capacity
Storing inventory is costly. Warehouse overheads include your electricity and ground rent, amongst other utilities. Minimising these costs is key to the cost-efficient running of your facility, and the effective management of your stored stock.
Assessing your current warehouse capacity will enable you to plan your space with different items in mind. It may make sense to store more fast-moving goods than slower selling stock due to obvious differences in supply and demand.
From understanding the different ways that items may need to be stored (cold storage for fresh produce, ambient storage for durable goods) to exactly how much space is required within your facility. Recognising key differences between numerous inventory items’ specifications and their fulfilment demands is critical.
Following your facility audit, capacity increase options such as mezzanine floors and narrow aisle racking may become suitable options. Alternatively, it may be preferred to expand inventory storage by acquiring or renting new distribution facility premises altogether.
2. Improve inventory storage areas
Unless your warehouse relies entirely on the cross-docking of specific stock, you may want to make improvements to your supply chain management.
Effectively planning your facility’s space will allow you to create the most efficient routes for your staff and stock and save you precious money and time. As an example, you may decide to prioritise allocating fast-moving stock to a more easily accessible location at the front of your warehouse to reduce the time it takes to load and unload these items.
Another option would be to audit your current inventory storage solutions and implement a ‘bin location’ solution. Segmenting your warehouse into several easy to identify ‘geographical locations’ can improve ease of access for staff and robots to pick and pack more orders, more efficiently. In addition to this, even more, successful operations could be achieved by clearly labelling stored inventory for quick and easy recognition and improved pick accuracy.
As an added benefit, storage improvements could even provide you with more space for materials handling equipment and increase staff safety within your facility.
3. Implement technology for order accuracy
While identifying your different inventory and improving your facility’s storage are valid improvements that can enhance your warehouse’s fulfilment goals, one vital tool which cannot be ignored is the use of technology to best manage your warehouse fulfilment operations.
Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are a necessity for providing key players within your supply chain the information they need that is integral to them optimally servicing your facility’s operations. Supplying real-time data, accurate demand forecasting, and suggestions for ongoing optimisation, a WMS is key to you reaching your facility’s fulfilment goals. More advanced digital innovations may include the use of autonomous robots for order picking, automated guided vehicles (AGV), and integrating all your facility’s digital platforms including your ERP and WMS within IoT.
To successfully achieve your facility’s fulfilment goals, you may choose to combine the use of both a WMS, alongside a digitised visualisation tool such as W2MO. Tools like these can support a comprehensive overview of all core information in the logistics network. Various reports for product flows, transport volumes, and costs create the basis to identify inefficiencies and potentials. It can enable transparency, whether you want to secure your production supply, optimize your distribution network or monitor and control the capacities of your supply chain. Innovative and powerful algorithms boost your efficiency.
4. Adopt a flexible approach
If this year has taught us anything, it is that resilience and the ability for businesses to adapt and grow under new pressures and within new circumstances is crucial for survival. Adopting a flexible approach to reaching your facility’s fulfilment goals can begin with anything as simple as auditing your facility’s current operations to analyse which processes would be more accommodating of the introduction of new procedures.
An added benefit of this first step is discovering the strengths of your SOPs and knowing where improvements need to be made within your facility, whilst also highlighting any weak links lurking within your workstreams.
For many warehouses, during the pandemic, operational elasticity has proven a remedy for successful business continuity. Whilst the smaller initial tasks to adopting a more flexible approach to your supply chain management can be managed by in-house staff, the expert consultants at Supply Chain Network Ltd have the knowledge and experience required to successfully implement the improved processes and systems specifically required by each of their clients’ individual facilities, now and in future. Appraise your current situation and plan for your long-term goals with Supply Chain Network Ltd.
Be successful in 2021
Experts in all aspects of warehouse and network design, SCN understands the importance of remaining competitive in a dynamic industry and the critical data analysis required to achieve this.
Specialists in Warehouse Design and Fit-Out, the SCN team can help you reach your facility’s fulfilment potential in 2021 and beyond. Visit www.scnuk.com to learn about the work that we do and to ensure you are ready and future-proof your business plans and warehouse design. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 01423 815 941