Warehouse Operations Management
Warehouse Operations Management requires a systematic and process driven approach to maintain order and efficiency within a warehouse or distribution centre. Well designed operational processes can improve profitability, reduce waste and facilitate improved management of variability.
Within warehouse operations management the focus for operational process improvement is on the efficiency of moving material and the utilisation of resources such as people, handling equipment and facilities. The material movements and utilisation must also be balanced to the service level requirements. All warehouse operations should look to continuously monitor and improve efficiency in order to control cost and deliver the required service.
How Our Warehouse Consultants Can Help
Developing efficient operating processes requires fact-based analysis combined with a pragmatic appreciation of business constraints. Whilst there are numerous different methodologies including Kaizan, Six Sigma, TQM and variations thereof, they all focus on a core approach; continuous focus on being organised, methodical and efficient.
Our warehouse consultants are technically skilled in the assessment of processes using a range of methodologies. They also bring considerable knowledge of the realities of day-to-day warehouse operations, gained through direct experience in managing logistics operations. There are many areas where our Warehouse Consultants can support improvement in Warehouse Operations Management, including:
Cycle time in the warehouse is the total elapsed time taken to complete a process, such as putaway of goods, order picking and pick-face replenishment.
In many warehouse operations the actual processes followed by personnel demonstrate a wide range of counterproductive and non-value add actions. Identifying and eliminating these actions is a major opportunity for service improvement and cost reduction.
Using appropriate elements from Lean and other process control methodologies, our warehouse consultants can map the existing processes, identify opportunities for improvement, develop recommendations and support clients with the implementation of those recommendations.
Typically the main counterproductive and non-value add actions our consultants see in the warehouse environment are:
- Unauthorised batching of activities i.e. order picks which adds delay
- Excessive administrative requirements for exceptions management
- Lack of synchronisation between processes i.e. order pick and order pack
- Poorly designed forms and procedures
- Poor understanding of, and training in, WMS functionality
- Limited cooperation between functions i.e. picking and loading bay
All warehouses, regardless of the velocity of material movement, require an efficient layout. The layout of racking, pick routes, walkways, marshalling areas and loading bays are a key driver for the cycle times associated with warehouse activities. Further to the layout, the location of material within the layout is also a critical factor in ensuring cycle times are efficient.
Our warehouse consultants are able to optimise an existing layout through detailed modelling, and they are then able to generate full CAD schematics and equipment requirements to support the implementation of any required changes. You can read more on layout improvement in our Warehouse Design section.
It is not just working capital that over-stocking ties up, but also space. Reducing inventory, whilst balancing inventory levels with the level of product availability required, is a key element in ensuring that the space within a warehouse is efficiently utilised.
Our consultants can undertake a full review of inventory, establishing the optimum levels required and designing new inventory policies to ensure the optimum levels are achieved and maintained. You can read more about our inventory consultancy in the inventory management section, or you can read about our approach to reducing inventory in our inventory optimisation section.
In conjunction with cycle time reduction, our warehouse consultants are able to produce, validate and implement new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the warehouse and supporting operations.
The SOPs will cover each activity relating to material movement and order management within each functional area including putaway, replenishment, pick-face control, order picking, damaged goods control, returns, marshalling and perpetual inventory checks.