How can I manage and run warehouse operations effectively?
There are many reasons why you may be asking this question. Perhaps you have always run your warehouse operations but the complexity is increasingly getting away from you. Maybe you have just decided to stop outsourcing your warehouse activities, or you are considering whether in-house or outsourcing is the right solution for you.
For the sake of providing a useful answer, we’ll assume you have your own warehouse operations and need all the help we can offer. Next is of course the question of what motivates you. Is it costs of operations, negative impact on your business from warehouse operations, miscommunications and discrepancies in information between colleagues in the warehouse and those working with them, or perhaps just a gut feeling that a lot of the costs associated with your inventory are too high and even unnecessary? Or perhaps a more recent challenge, where there are simply no people to be found to work in your warehouse to sustain the growing amount of work? In our experience at BizBloqs, your motivation to improve and become effective is all that matters. The underlying reason will be automatically addressed as you take action to do better.
How to start addressing warehouse operations issues?
Effective warehouse management needs to address processes, warehousing capabilities, the optimization of your space, and the identification of how to process orders in the best way possible. Next, you will need to align all the people involved to embrace your changes and operate in the same effective manner.
So where do you start? First of all, it is critical to prepare your organization for all the right tools for the job. If we were to send someone on his way to fix things with just a hammer, everything that person will look at resembles a nail. Your challenge at hand requires a lot more finesse and significantly more insight.
Any digital solution is pretty much wasted until you have a firm grip on all the processes that are related to your logistic operations. From the moment an order comes in, through picking-packing-stickering and shipping, to tracking and in some cases handling a return, every step and action has to be clearly defined and digitized to optimize your operations. It is critical to start the implementation of these processes by standardizing and documenting them. Next, you need to seek feedback from the organization and make the necessary changes based on that input. From there, it is a matter of training everyone on these final processes and ensuring that everyone follows them from that moment on.
OPTIMIZATION OF SPACE
Our experts find it very satisfying to walk through the warehouse with new clients and clients-to-be. At first glance we often see immediate room for improvement with a few trusted tips and tricks from experience in the industry. Space is expensive and often not easy to come by, so it certainly pays to get the most out of what you have by applying best practices and tools that unlock the last of the hidden potential of any warehouse.
OPTIMIZATION OF ORDER PROCESSING
The customer order is at the heart of your logistic processes. After all, this is where your bought or produced goods finally convert to money and profits. On the other hand, there are many traps in the logistic process just waiting to eat heavily into your profits and most of them are well-hidden. Inventory itself costs money and if you lack real-time visibility of stock levels per item, how can you possibly replenish stock at exactly the right time? Almost always we see money wasted on lost sales (out of stock) or inventory (too many items in stock), because this is not something you can manage by gut feeling and practical experience. It’s a science and you need the right tools as well as optimized processes to get the most out of your order management tools. Also, such tools cannot stand alone in your organization. Instead, they need to be integrated with other key tools such as ERP and finance systems in order to have the level of insight needed to optimize those profits. Many of such connections are already part of the BizBloqs solution and the provider of your other critical systems are strategic partners.
TOOLS FOR THE JOB
If you are to achieve an effective and scalable operation for your warehouse, it is an absolute necessity to digitize as many things as possible. Implementing a Warehouse Management System (WMS) helps to take care of that. Documenting how you want your warehouse operations to run is not enough and digitization helps to fully enforce your desired behavior in the warehouse.
The right WMS helps you to identify all the processes related to your logistics and requires you to precisely define how things flow, as well as what human actions are allowed within your warehouse for the different roles you have there. A WMS gives a huge boost to the capabilities you have in your warehouse and the combination of this digital solution with the experience and expertise of the experts that implement it will help you make full use of the space you have.
An Order Management System (OMS) is an integral part of a WMS and in today’s world with very demanding customers, this is no simple luxury. Amazon in the US has spoiled the consumer with next-day and even same-day shipping, with immaculate tracking of the order until the goods arrive. This has set firmly in the mindset of the global consumer, whose expectations need to be managed as you optimize your operations to what is feasible in your line of business. This consumer mindset has spilled over into the Business-to-Business world of logistics as well, so it is more important than ever to make promises you can keep. You will depend heavily on your OMS to ensure you are keeping promises and to share insight with your customers about their orders.
Last, you will find that a WMS-digitized environment and well-trained staff reduces the number of people you need to maintain optimized warehouse management, or at least reduces the need to expand the number of people until your company growth justifies it.
WELL-TRAINED WAREHOUSE OPERATORS
In a way, digitization creates a level of contradiction when it comes to people. Rather than trusting them with a general task, such as picking, their efforts are guided every step of the way. Handheld scanners are used to confirm the right product is picked from the right spot and the WMS prints the label at the right place and moment to make sure it cannot go onto any other box than the intended target for example. It correlates directly with a huge reduction in human errors. It also makes it fairly easy to train new staff to handle the daily tasks and activities. However, just like with the processes before it is important to have very clear warehouse operator duties for every role. Also, your warehouse operations manager or supervisor now needs to be much more technology-savvy and have an open mind for innovation. If you achieve the optimal scenario, your warehouse leader is the one to propose the appropriate investment and response to the growth and increasing complexity of your business.
BizBloqs offers a WMS that is so feature-rich, there isn’t a single customer that is using all its capabilities. Such warehousing solutions are generally built to facilitate almost every possible scenario and BizBloqs made sure it would have a low or no-code solution for rapid implementation and deployment. You as the customer get to decide the type of picking tools to use, the insights that are important to you and your clients, the level of automation optimizes your cost-effectiveness etc. It is very important to study the various features and make the right selection to get the most out of your digitization. Of course, it is always possible to add new features at any point in time so you are ready to handle increased complexity or rapid growth without losing your effectiveness in the warehouse.
Initially many entrepreneurs are fully capable to manage the warehouse operations effortlessly with a paper/printed process and some guys that know what they are doing in the warehouse. Sure, there will be some occasional human errors or an order gets missed, but nothing that a quick corrective action can’t fix.
But then the business grows, multi-channel gets introduced or a new client has strict rules and conditions for their logistic supply chain. We also live in times where human resources are incredibly hard to find, so it is vital to do as much as you can with as few people as possible. The logistic challenges and bottlenecks often present themselves to the entrepreneur where there is no more time to lose in addressing them.
Our experts are always keen to meet new people and thrive on visiting unique logistic scenarios. Don’t hesitate to give us a call and start your journey towards a transformed digital experience, reduction of operational costs and the unlocking of a wide range of new features and capabilities.
Want to know more:
- Which of the following is a function of warehouse management software?
- How can warehouse management reduce costs?
- What is warehouse management from the view of logistic management?