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Warehouses – the smart investment


2020 played witness to shifting supply operations, adapting to changing customer demands, adopting new technologies within distribution facilities to accurately manage inventory, and the advent of increasingly prescriptive analytics solutions to better predict future requirements. Enter 2021, and these changes are swiftly becoming the new normal ways for how businesses are expected to function. The Supply Chain Network explores these changes, their benefits, and just how crucial this state of reinvention is, for the survival of the supply chain industry…


Accurate inventory management

In 2020, online shopping and eCommerce sales and soared. Restricted by traditional retail methods due to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, according to the Office for National Statistics, online retailing accounted for 31.4% of total retailing compared with 28.6% in October 2020, with an overall growth of 74.7% in the value of sales when compared with November 2019.


As this rise in demand directly implicates supply and fulfilment, there has never been a greater need to address accurate inventory management and delivery, than ever before. For many, the level of e-commerce ordering for many companies has rivalled or exceeded the level of online orders seen during the holiday season.


Assisting this sudden need for quicker and more efficient fulfilment of orders of goods stored in multiple facilities, many facility managers may choose to implement supportive technologies. Innovations such as RFID and barcode scanning which can serve to increase inventory visibility and accuracy, resulting in cost-effective fulfilment operations.


Increased reliance on warehouse technologies

Collaborative tools, wearable technology, and robots all continue to support warehouse operations all over the world. Traditionally using technology was predominantly to gain efficiency and control over warehouse operations and fulfilment accuracy.


While this still rings true, the Covid-19 pandemic has additionally forced many to employ technology within their facilities to cut labour costs, reduce human contact and adhere to social distancing guidance, and to increase the efficiency of time-consuming manual processes, impacted by increased pandemic demand.


Working to overcome productivity and labour challenges, warehouse operatives can improve their productivity by using wearable scanners and mobile computers, while also managing the health and safety measures required of staff under the Government guidelines. Most Technology devices can also provide facility managers with data regarding staff performance, process efficiency, and stock levels, which can further contribute to the constant improvement of warehouse operations, and in turn customer satisfaction.


Prescriptive analytics solutions

While the pandemic and the subsequent effect on the supply chain industry could not be predicted, some trends can be monitored in their infancy and planned around to avoid disruptive disaster. After all, increased visibility into operations ensures companies can quickly adapt their processes to manage unexpected demand or supply shifts.


One way for businesses to forecast for potential problems is to assess their data more regularly. Whereas businesses and warehouse operatives may have traditionally only analysed their inventory data by month, many are shifting more towards planning inventory on a weekly basis. This pivotal approach enables warehouse operatives and business managers to better locate trends and then use this data to predict a possible flood in demand due to a specific increase in a product’s popularly, or a casual effect due to a global pandemic. To achieve this crucial level of visibility, many businesses are quickly adopting prescriptive analytics solutions.


By studying patterns of behaviour, prescriptive analytics solutions analyse operational data and use sophisticated algorithms to identify any performance areas which require improvement.


Designed to produce comprehensive reports, the best prescriptive analytics systems help businesses within the supply chain industry to quickly establish their operational inefficiencies, enabling them to swiftly implement improvements.


Now is a very good time to rethink inventory management approaches.


Find out more…

The Supply Chain Network team is expecting a busy 2021 and is keen to hear from Warehouse Consultants looking for Associate work. Specialising in all aspects of warehouse and network design, check out www.scnuk.com to learn about the work that we do. If you feel you could fit into our team then e-mail Ian Maughan at ian.maughan@s-c-network.org.


Ensure you are ready and future-proof your business plans and warehouse design. Email: admin@scnuk.com or call: 01423 815 941

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