As a manufacturer, you’ll already understand the importance of your warehouse within your business. As the place where raw materials arrive and are stored, as well as where finished products are kept before shipment, your warehouse is a hub of activity. Without effective warehouse management, your entire set-up could descend into chaos — with disastrous consequences for your supply chain.
So what are the principles of effective warehouse management? In this blog post, I will examine the key focus points for manufacturing warehouse management before commenting on future technology that is set to impact the sphere.
Striking the stock level balance
Manufacturers face a continued and difficult balancing act when it comes to maintaining stock levels in their warehouse. On one hand, holding too much stock ties up your cash and if left unused or unsold, can result in significant losses. Operating a warehouse with minimal stock levels can be problematic too, as you may not have the supplies needed to fulfil orders readily available, causing delays to the end customer.
In order to achieve this balance, it’s imperative that you have complete visibility over what is leaving and entering your warehouse. This allows the early identification of potential issues before they arise — for example, you can identify products that are selling slowly and alter your business strategy accordingly.
This is made easier through ERP software with stock control or warehouse management capabilities, allowing manufacturers to maintain the optimum stock levels for their business requirements.
Efficient sales order & transaction processing
Without the correct management procedures in place, delays to sales orders can occur. In an industry where time is money, all manufacturers need to prevent this disruption to the supply chain in order to avoid delays in revenue generation.
With more avenues for ordering than ever before, including online, email, post, fax and telephone, it’s imperative that a clear, streamline process is in place. By instilling this as standard within your business, you will be able to process manufacturing orders more quickly regardless of how they are placed. This, in turn, will improve the speed of revenue generation and order fulfilment, enhancing overall customer satisfaction.
Of course, there are more transactions that occur in your warehouse than order processing. Whether it’s receiving new goods, picking, packing or shipping, there should be a streamline process for each of these activities to support the effective management of your manufacturing warehouse.
Greater control of stock movement and storage
Ultimately, the items stored in your warehouse are cash. Whether they’re raw materials or end products, they are all business assets. The smooth-running of your business, therefore, depends on accurate stock level detailing and the correct fulfilment of orders. This hinges on the correct storage and movement of stock.
For example, if your business sells the last of a particular product, but lags in your software show that it is still available, it will impact the customer satisfaction levels that you are able to achieve. Even the layout of your warehouse has a part to play; items getting ‘lost’ can cause obvious issues within your business.
Implementing such a system can be complex, yet with the promise of increased profit margins, it’s a move that is well-worth making.
The future of warehouse management
As the latest technology trend disrupting the manufacturing industry, we have discussed the Internet of Things in great detail on our blog — and now it seems that not even the warehouse is safe from the interconnectivity of devices.
IoT has mainly impacted inventory management, including the traceability of items within a warehouse. For example, RFID tags can be attached to items to store relevant data needed for stock control, packing and shipping. On a larger scale, satellite trackers can be used to track an item’s whereabouts anywhere in the world.
Overall, IoT helps businesses achieve the core principle of effective manufacturing warehouse management: increased visibility. Trackers and tracers may sound like something from a sci-fi movie, but it’s clear the benefits they bring in terms of traceability through the supply chain.
So what does the future hold for warehouse management? Research from the Boston Consulting Group suggests that our dependence on the IoT will grow in the coming years, estimating that there will be 1.2 million robots in US manufacturing alone. While employees will undoubtedly still have a role within the manufacturing warehouse, the growth of robotics and smart technology will improve efficiencies, freeing up employee time to focus on more pressing matters.
From efficiencies that can be implemented now to future developments set to streamline processes even further, it’s clear that the effective warehouse management is key within the manufacturing industry in order to increase efficiencies, maximise profits and, ultimately, drive customer satisfaction.