I came across a rather interesting fact about warehouse managers in a study by Intermec. It said that 1 out of 6 managers who were in charge of a warehouse were not likely to review their workflow processes unless a customer complaint is raised. And, it’s not hard to believe. However, contrary to what one may be led to believe, it is not always their fault.
More often than not, you find yourself haunted by challenges like tight budgets, bringing down the operations cost, multiple delivery channels, etc. To our good luck, warehouse automation is already trying to lead you towards solutions.
Whether you are a part of the manufacturing industry or logistics as such, managing a warehouse is a full-time job, you do face challenges
. While smart warehousing innovations may be the remedy, the need is to first fully understand what your challenges are and why they haunt you so.
What Challenges Does a Medium and Small Business Warehouse Manager Face?
Here are those very logistic problems in managing a warehouse that stare in your face even when you try to do your best:
1. Budget is Always a Constraint
When it comes to medium or small business warehouse management, is only a dream. Warehousing is an area where businesses think they can make big savings by cutting expenses. The truth is that the scope is immense. That being said, budget is something you will always find yourself struggling with, especially if you are managing a warehouse in the manufacturing industry.
There is, in fact, a lot you can do by optimizing processes. It will, however, take some insight, some planning, and some discretion to develop processes that can actually fit into the meagre budget that you have.
2. Constant Struggle to Bring Down the Operational Costs
Operations budget is not something you get to decide upon. Nevertheless, it is you who will have to look into the everyday operations of your warehouse.
With the changing face of the supply chain, it is the customer service that has gained real traction. So, the constant endeavor now is to reduce costs of operations and utilize the same on maximizing customer service instead.
The key to reducing operational costs is by increasing productivity and maximizing asset utilization.
3. Ensuring Stock Availability and Shorter Lead Times in the Face of Smaller, More Frequent Orders
With the growth of e-commerce, warehouse managers are dealing with now smaller orders at a faster frequency. It is true even for most manufacturing warehouses because lead times now need to be shorter as the economy is run by supply, not demand.
This asks for increased stock availability and shorter lead times. This is why the higher-ups push you to increase the availability of stock, quicken the pick-up, and shorten the lead times.
The secret lies in improving your picking and packing strategies that can actually speed up delivery as well.
4. The Strife for the Perfect Order
Your business wants you to achieve something more than ever – more of perfect orders, more frequently. For warehousing, a very important is the perfect order metric. The number of perfect orders is, in fact, becoming a very popular performance measure.
A perfect order being the right product(s), in the correct quantity, in the right condition, delivered to the correct customer.
You will need to enhance your picking process, and go for options like bulk picking. There, certainly, will arise a need for better adoption and use of warehouse technology.
5. The Pressure of Seasonal Demand
Predictable sales are not a reality in the present-day scenario. This is why markets bank upon holiday season demand.
How much more space and time can you arrange in that case? This is, indeed, a time when you need to ramp up your resources. Some advanced insights into customer behavior through data analysis may be able to get you there.
Study the past; anticipate the future. It may not be accurate, but will be close enough for warehouse management. In fact, it is never too early to prepare for a surge in demand.
6. Dealing with Availability and Cost of Labor
When it comes to procuring, employing, and retaining labor you know what a task it can be. Phases of high employment in the region/country, unavailability of young candidates for employment, and ageing workforce are some of the major challenges that up the cost of labor.
You will, in fact, need to make changes that attract new and young labor force, reduce and curb redundancy of labor, and introduce measures like flexible working hours. All these changes can help you keep a motivated and hence a more productive workforce.
7. Managing the Never-ending Data with the Growing Pressure of Multiple Delivery Channels
Managing data manually can be an uphill tasks with a high error rate. By adopting warehouse technology with data mining capabilities, data can be managed easily and tangibly. Supply chain produces so much data that first needs to be collected and then analyzed.
Also, there needs to be the ability to track the goods throughout the supply chain 24*7. All this combined with the multiplicity of delivery channels that are an integral part of logistics makes it such a herculean task for small and medium business warehousing managers.
Warehouse management systems could actually be the answer to this riddle.
8. Ever-increasing Need for Stock Keeping Units Due to Variety in Stock
Because of the explosion in the variety of goods that cater to the consumers’ needs there is an evident increase in the number of SKUs. You need to have cost-effective pick locations that also work as reverse-warehouses. Managing so many units is not a piece of pie.
The solution is that you don’t have to stock everything. There is a lot of power in differentiation. Anticipating and analyzing customer preference can keep your warehouse at its best.
9. Being All This and Eco-friendly
To add to the operational woes of warehouse manager, come the environmental issues. Your unit uses a lot of renewable as well non-renewable resources.
While you are charged with responsibilities like reducing costs, managing labor, improving delivery and much more, you must also be aware of its impact on the environment.
Energy consumption, release of waste (tapes, cardboards, pallets, wraps), use of land and water – all become factors that you cannot and must not ignore. Efforts start from as small ones as switching the lights and appliances off when not in use, to checking if the activities relating to your unit are hazardous to the environment. The responsibility of saving, reusing, and recycling is one that you can never overemphasize.
If you found that the blog touches on the very areas where you need help, stay connected for more insights into warehouse management.