5 Tips for Warehouse and Distribution Center Management Success You MUST Instill Today
In 2016, total e-commerce sales reached $394.9 billion, and initial findings suggest 2017 will surpass last year’s sales, reports Scott Stone. Thus, warehouse and distribution center management will face added pressures to do more this year with the same, if not fewer, resources. But, according to third-party logistics (3PLs) provider, Cerasis, effective, successful distribution management should take advantage of technological advancements and encourage innovation to meet demands of e-commerce and omnichannel sales.
To improve warehouse and distribution center management in your company, instill these five tips in the minds of your team members and company contacts.
Warehouse and Distribution Center Management: 5 Tips for Success
1. Use Technology to Work Smarter, Not Harder.
Distribution center management technologies have advanced light years beyond the standard, pencil-and-paper tracking. Modern technologies can automatically identify products, reorder product and much more. However, it is up to warehouse managers to implement and use these technologies to work smarter, not harder. Additionally, robotics can help reduce the workload on employees.
Meanwhile, new systems can provide better benchmarking and management of overall systems. As explained by Manhattan Associates, peaks in warehouse operations, especially during the holiday season, can increase nine-fold. This means every aspect must be managed and controlled.
2. Optimize Slots, and Organize Your Warehouse.
Speaking of control and optimization, all slots should be organized to reflect items commonly ordered simultaneously, and slots should follow a logical, value-based system. Reslotting and otherwise organizing the warehouse should be an ongoing process that strives to keep relevant, profitable products within reach and found near packing stations. This pairs well with omnichannel sales strategies as well.
3. Control Both Inbound and Outbound Freight Effectively.
Warehouses must effectively manage inbound and outbound freight concurrently. All vendors should know their responsibilities, as defined by the inbound freight management guide. In addition, vendors should work with warehouses, including integrating systems, to promote lean warehouse practices, including just-in-time stocking. If vendors do not meet expectations in the guide, warehouse managers should have the authority to enact penalties or consequences against the vendor.
4. Consider Outsourcing Systems or Operations to Handle Surges.
Sometimes, third-party fulfillment or partnerships can help handle surges in operation, explains Curt Barry of Multi-Channel Merchant. Outsourcing can include utilizing software-as-a-service (SaaS) systems or working directly with third parties to increase your resources, such as temporary laborers or equipment.
If outsourcing any labor resources, remember to give proper training and orientation to your facility. Proper training reduces delays caused from temporary workers not understanding how your facility runs. Furthermore, conduct routine meetings with temporary laborers, in addition to regular staff meetings with internal staff, to ensure consistency and better collaboration on the warehouse floor. You may also use a labor management software to track both internal and external staff performance.
5. Focus on Visibility and Lean Warehouse Practices.
Visibility in your warehouse requires dedicated asset tracking, data collection, analysis and application, and continuous improvement across all employees and operations. A focus on warehouse visibility also begets lean practices and better inventory control. Of course, lean practices also have implications for budgets as well.
Set a budget for warehousing operations, and stick to it. All team members and managers should understand their roles in staying within budget. Of course, there will be times when a budget simply does not cut it. However, you should track this information and use it as a reason for ensuring 100-percent visibility across your enterprise.
Although these distribution center management tips can help your organization succeed, you should also bring your systems together through an integrated system. This will reduce redundancy and increase productivity. For some, working with a third-party integrator (3PI), like Veridian Solutions, may be the best way to achieve integration with speed to market in mind.