May 09, 2020

The warehouse manager’s challenges

  • Pressure to reduce operating costs
Companies are targeting the supply chain as an area where costs can be reduced further and as a result pressure is increasing on transport and warehouse managers to reduce costs whilst also increasing customer service. This has resulted in companies evaluating outsourcing options also as reviewing their own logistics operations.
  • Achieving the perfect order
A recent key performance indicator (KPI) introduced into the availability chain is that the perfect order metric. A perfect order is deemed to be one that has been delivered on time, in full, in perfect condition and accompanied with the correct paperwork. This metric includes many of the present supply chain performance measures, and providing everybody uses an equivalent parameters it are often adopted together of the leading supply chain measures and a differentiator between companies and supply chains. If we ever get to a paperless transaction we may have to exchange the fourth metric.
  • Shorter order lead times and stock availability
Order lead time is the length of time between the placing of an order and the receipt of the item by the customer. Order lead time can be a significant differentiator between competitors. For example, if your favourite cereal is not on the shelf of the supermarket, you're unlikely to attend for subsequent delivery but will search for it in another store or choose the closest alternative, whether from the same brand or a different brand. Online consumers are likely to choose the quickest delivery method providing the quality and costs are alike. The quality of products is such that competitive advantage is gained through fast, timely and accurate delivery. With the internet providing price transparency through a proliferation of price comparison websites, competitive advantage is now gained through offering the simplest service by whatever channel the buyer decides. The most effective warehouses are people who have reduced lead times whilst maintaining quality at a reduced cost.

  • Delivery through multiple channels

Companies are increasingly delivering via multiple channels to reach customersmore effectively. The pressure on the warehouse is brought about throughhaving to present goods in a variety of different ways. These include direct delivery of single items to the top user, multiple SKU orders direct to store and bulk orders to retail distribution centres. Each has its own different pick requirement and is probably going to believe different equipment. Order lead times also will vary, as will the tactic of delivery.
  • Smaller, more frequent orders

Manufacturers and retailers are continually striving to scale back inventory whilst retail stores are looking to extend floor sales space and thus reduce the quantity of inventory held available rooms. Just-in-time methods, increasing internet sales and initiatives such as efficient consumer response (ECR) and quick response (QR) are resulting in smaller, more frequent orders. This again necessitates changes in warehouse operations, with a move faraway from full-pallet picking to carton and individual-item picks.

  • Greater fluctuations in demand

The days of predictable sales are long gone, with consumers rather than manufacturersflexing their muscles in the marketplace. Seasonality remains a factorin terms of market sectors like fashion, while pre- and post-Christmas salesare now stretching warehouse resources to the limit because the rush to urge product to stores intensifies.
  • Increases in stock-keeping units

During periods of high employment many countries are seeing labour ratessteadily increasing and paired with the very fact that variety of nations havean ageing population it's becoming harder to source experienced warehouse operatives. Additionally, working in a warehouse is not seen as being the most glamorous of occupations and this deters a number of young people fromentering the industry. Warehouse managers got to come up with ways to draw in new staff.Many workforces are supplemented with the introduction of staff from abroad. In these circumstances companies need to look at employing bilingual supervisors and contemplate the use of new technology such as voice-directed processes. There is also the added challenge of health and safety, ensuring that foreign staff are ready to read and understand instructions. Another way to draw in staff is to be flexible on working hours. This can include shifts that coincide with school hours or with spouses’ work hours, like twilight shifts. The length of shift also can be varied to coincide with worker preferences. This can also attract student workers. Although potentially difficult to arrange , this will prove beneficial within the end of the day .

Labour cost and availability

Environmental issues

Data and information transfer

Lean warehousing

People management

People challenges

Attracting and retaining warehouse employees

An ageing and constantly changing workforce

Operating hours


Warehouse audit

Quality systems

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