When you work with logistics and especially warehouse production, the conditions are completely controlled by the customers’ demands, it is important to understand and accept that. I regularly meet colleagues who are frustrated with their complex flow and order structures with no regard for efficiency. Often the warehouse management arguing with sales organizations and senior management trying to change the sales conditions to the advantage for warehouse production.
In my opinion that is completely wrong way to go. Warehouse management needs to accept the Customers’ demands, without customers and sale there will not exist any warehouse and no jobs. Stop fighting about order structures and so on, instead start to use the brains to develop the warehouse flow and optimize the warehouse for current conditions. Warehouse management’s most important task is to develop and adapt the warehouse production to ever-changing conditions, with other words: continuous improvement.
There is a reason “agile” is a trendy word right now. Customers buying behaviour is changing and there is a paradigm shift with e-commerce and omnichannel. The whole supply chain needs to stay focused and agile with total cost control in the whole flow. This places very high demands on warehouse management. Higher skills are required with a great ability for innovative thinking and leadership that takes advantage of the skills of the warehouse workers. We need to find new productivity enhancement measures. It is not the right solution to get the staff to run faster or find a cheaper force.
We need to utilize technology to the maximum. First, we need the right technology for the purpose. It is completely wrong to use a primitive WMS that is a “homebrew” product. That is, in fact, the opposite of agile. E-commerce and omnichannel requires top of the line WMS. A competent and well-established product with a big customer base. In this way, you secure a lot of features and innovations from colleagues in the business who use the same WMS, with other words you do not need to invent the wheel again. You also need a competent and well established TMS for an easy handling of different transport modes that e-commerce often requires also for total traceability. Something that even well-established WMS often missing is a good labour-management module. I do not know why too me it seems strange because labour costs are often the greatest post in a warehouse budget. If you are working with e-commerce, you are often handling small in-orders and out-orders and you need to be agile, move staff to avoid sub-optimizing. An LMS is an important and great tool to use for that kind of work. My previous article was about LMS so if you want to know more about LMS read that. You find a link below.
It happens senior management don’t even understand the increasing warehouse costs when implementing e-commerce, a good LMS is a great tool to describe the increasing labour costs and visualize for senior management how you often handle more tasks with a lower value for each task. That is often the consequence of e-commerce.
That is why you need top of the line competence, software and hardware in your warehouse. Stop fighting sales organizations implementing more liberal order structures and e-commerce. We are talking about the company’s survival. Put your energy on developing and adapting the warehouse for future demands.