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Best Practices for a Robust Warehouse Management

In the fast-changing world of commerce and transportation, the role of warehouses and inventory facilities becomes more and more important.

Why does warehouse management matter?

All forward-looking companies that manufacture or retail goods think about delivering better customer service for their customers. The great service often suggests fast delivery, which includes order fulfillment time combined with transit time. While a lot has been already said about route optimization and faster transits, fulfillment strategy can often be overlooked. Warehouse and inventory management is crucial for faster, efficient order fulfillment. A well-thought out fulfillment strategy and warehouse organization process let companies operate faster and increase productivity.

What is warehouse management? 

Warehouse management is a complex series of activities, steered toward maintaining and reviewing all of the processes within the facility. Warehouse management includes:

  • Setting up the warehouse and inventory
  • Optimizing facility space to fit the maximum volume of products in a properly sorted way
  • Maintaining the required equipment
  • Picking, packing, and shipping orders
  • Control and maintenance of the entire warehouse performance

What are best practices for proper warehouse management?

There are many different ways to improve your warehouses’ operational performance, as well as boost the efficiency of order fulfillment. Here are some tips on technologies and strategies you can use to improve your company’s warehousing:

  1. Make sure you are using the space efficiently. Re-organizations of storage planning are useful, as you can define the misused or extra space in your facility. The more optimized your warehouse space is, the faster the shipping process will be. A great tip is to sort your products in the following way: high-selling ones should be put near the packing section for easy access, and all the other goods should be sorted according to demand.
  2. Use a robust warehouse management system (WMS). This is software for tracking, documenting and keeping everything organized. WMS is an essential tool for any company who wants to take its performance to another level. Choosing a well-oiled management system matters, as it helps simplify the process of order circulation.
  3. Automation. Digitization and new technology are affecting all industries, especially the logistics sector. In a global supply chain, innovations are driving progress and warehouse automation lets companies enhance the operational performance with robotic systems, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Such shifts may be hard to implement and can even disrupt the fulfillment process, but the end result is believed to be worth the efforts. Automation makes operations much faster, eliminates manual tasks and collects data more efficiently.

Final thoughts

After all, a thorough analysis is key. Discuss with your team all of the major drawbacks and pitfalls of your current warehousing strategy, and define a action plan. Who knows, maybe updating your warehouse management strategy will be a major uplift for your business!

Whose WMS To Use When Outsourcing to a 3PL?

An efficient warehouse management system (WMS) is an invaluable part of a company’s distribution strategy. As omnichannel fulfillment becomes increasingly more popular and complex, WMS systems are too. Companies need to be able to plan and optimize orders quickly and accurately.

However, most companies will struggle with the decision of using their own WMS or using that of their logistics provider.

In an ideal world, the company would manage all of its information within a single WMS platform to increase efficiency and visibility. This could happen with their own WMS or the 3PL’s.

Companies may choose to stay with their own system for the sake of integration and cost controls. Jim Stephens, chief information officer at Port Logistics Group, says “[companies] may not want to invest the time and IT resources to integrate with a new WMS, or fear that they will lose control of how the system is updated and upgraded over time.”

A good 3PL will recognize the importance of this decision. It’ll work with clients no matter which WMS they choose to use. Of course, there are pros and cons to both avenues.

Using the Company’s Own WMS wms

When a customer decides to retain its own WMS, the 3PL must provide a trained staff with the expertise to accurately execute operations. The team should be skilled enough to act as if they were an extension of the customer’s supply chain network.

Although utilizing the customer’s own system optimizes their visibility and increases consistency within the supply chain, it has its drawbacks for the 3PL when the customer experiences dramatic spikes in volume, as it makes it more difficult for the 3PL to quickly move staff to and from accounts to deal with the abrupt change.

Companies also choose to use their own WMS to ensure data and operations uniformity when working with multiple warehouses and logistics services partners. Some supply chain professionals attest that there is a loss of control when they utilize the 3PL’s system.

Using the 3PL’s WMS

A logistics provider increases its ability to move labor around on the customers’ behalf when it uses its own WMS across all customers and facilities.

Change is a constant in many industry verticals, and keeping up with the changes entails system modifications that can be costly. When the 3PL uses its own WMS, it eats that cost. The customer would have to foot the bill if they chose to stick with their own system.

Every customer is different, so 3PL’s must be, and have become, skilled in integrating data from all of their customers into one system – their own.

When it’s all said and done, there are three major advantages to relying on the system of the logistics provider. They include faster implementations, relief from the burden of updating the WMS. Also, it means more flexibility in changing locations in the future.

But, these advantages are contingent upon the skill of the provider’s IT staff. Without an IT department that possesses the competence to integrate quickly and adequately, these benefits are immediately negated.

Bottom line?

The decision of which WMS to use is not one that should be taken lightly. The pros and cons of both avenues are undeniable. However, the most important issues need to be identified and addressed upon the initial contemplation of a business relationship. Only then will the relationship be beneficial to both the logistics provider and the customer.

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