This year, warehouses have found themselves increasingly dynamic environments as events in the 2021 global supply chain have impacted local businesses. When thinking about longevity and sustainability for your warehouse, having flexible and scalable processes in place are essential. Warehouse management needs to monitor and track changes in the business environment and adopt responsive solutions.
Over the last 12 months, the erratic demand seen, such as varied labour requirements and costs, and inaccurate inventory information, require robust systemic solutions to keep warehouse managers on top of these changes and aware of gaps requiring attention. Warehouse managers need to spin the plates of maximising performance whilst balancing trade-offs under uncertain conditions - a problematic task indeed! So what are the main challenges for warehouse management in the current climate, and importantly, how can they be resolved?
Fluctuations in demand are posing severe challenges for warehouse managers. We saw sales dip due to the recent global financial crisis resulting in significant cost problems for warehouses due to increased inventory levels, whilst others found themselves scrambling to fulfil.
This has not affected all industries equally, and the problem highlights the challenge of managing fluctuations in demand due to external forces.
Managing seasonal demand requires timely and accurate information about manufacturing, retailing, and the industry; this is no secret. Gaps in data between the warehouse and other relevant entities or the industry limit the ability of the distributors to monitor and respond to changes in demand effectively.
To navigate a pandemic requires intuition and a rapidly adjustable system! Warehouses must use accurate and timely information in planning and forecasting demand and provide supply chain visibility.
Rearranging products to match changes in demand can help minimise the negative impacts of seasonal demand. This kind of rearrangement involves correctly positioning items by placing the products with high demand at the correct height and front of the picking aisle and at the right height during the current season.
Accommodating erratic demand goes beyond layout and picking. This problem requires correct management of transportation networks and strategic sourcing of transportation services. These long-term solutions will build long=term capability with strategic value for the distributor.
Efficiency and accuarcy in handling inventory in warehousing go together. Inaccurate inventory can cause problems such as maintaining improper stock levels and buildups of obsolete inventory. These then lead to picking issues when pickers rely on wrong information, leading to inefficient processes. Other impacts of inaccurate inventory can include lowered productivity, increased expenses, and corresponding lost revenue.
The solution here could be with automated systems, offering real-time, accurate information. The technology used in managing warehouse inventory is critical to success because the value of the automated system is just as good as the quality of the system itself.
It’s common for warehouse employees to handle products several times due to the nature of the warehousing process, and then Covid hit. Warehouse workers pass the same ticket via multiple staff; this has suddenly become a health risk and needs to be rapidly reassessed.
Whilst necessary in some instances, these redundant procedures are time-consuming and increase the cost of labour and create a health and safety risk. Implementing barcode technology streamlines the warehousing process. Removing redundant processes whilst maximising your resources. Automated systems are fast evolving and trends globally are compelling warehouse managers to maintain up-to-date systems to rapidly adapt, ensuring they thrive, not just survive.
Efficient use of space is critical in warehousing, especially in 2021, where we are trying to do more with less. Poor storage space and inefficient use of available space are common problems in warehouses with poor facility layouts. Undesirable warehouse design is a primary concern for managers as there is a direct correlation to a potential negative impact on profits.
Optimise your warehouse layout, considering both the floor space and vertical space available for use. Additionally, maximising the use of space, a well-designed layout maximises equipment and labour use, accessibility to all items, security of all items, and staff safety. Forklifts allows for a configuration that maximises both the total horizontal and vertical space. Ensuring your highest-selling inventory is easily accessible and streamlining dock-to-stock processes.
To find out how Ikon can help optimise your warehouse, get in touch.
Warehouse managers are constantly striving to increase productivity whilst minimising employment costs in a labour-intensive environment.
Warehouses use valuable equipment and employ large labour forces, which presents a challenge that is mainly unique to warehousing operations. Warehouse staff ranges from cleaners and packers to managers and administrative personnel.
With Covid, warehouses suddenly needed to adjust shifts, ensure social distancing, account for logistics fluctuations and manage a vulnerable workforce.
When thinking of reducing the cost of labour, the impact of shifting this on to other costs needs to be carefully considered. Two top strategies for addressing labour-related problems include; maximising available labour and replacing labour with automated systems. The latter can make people nervous, so developing the right mix of expertise is essential and through workforce planning, can help managers hone the necessary skills for successful labour practices.
Combining the right skills and motivation, through practices such as excellent working conditions, training and flexible hours, strengthens employee productivity and the performance of the warehouse.
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