Warehousing is a great logistical art and one that requires global mindedness and an ability to think holistically and systematically. A successful warehousing business must have all cylinders firing, including logistics, movement, project management, financials, human resources, information technology, legal, security and marketing and branding.
The first thing to consider about establishing warehouses are what the needs of your clients might be; what would your warehouses be used for? This will inform the way they are designed, location and dimensions.
Certain products are perishable and require storage in sensitive environments, such as perishable items like food, medicine or horticultural products. What size and dimension are the products that you will be storing? Do they need to be transported as individual items or in bulk? This is important as moving equipment must be able to handle the nature of such goods.
Security is also of vital importance as you must be able to provide your customers with a guarantee their merchandise will be protected. In the event of any failure, the liability will fall to you.
How do different departments work together?
Projects management is the central nervous system of all warehousing operations. It is here that orders are monitored from before arrival to storage to onward transiting. Schedules, budgeting and oversight of different tasks happens here.
Delivery deadlines and storage timeframes are handled by the logistics team. Personnel understand delivery routes and options and interact with the clients, suppliers and other contractors.
Identifying customers and markets to approach or advertise to, and understanding how the competitors operate in the same market is the job of the marketing team. They have the ability to make deals with customers and to ensuring there is a steady client base.
Acquiring equipment and supplies is the job of the purchasing department, while ensuring the existing infrastructure is in good condition is the maintenance team’s responsibility. You will need a finance and accounting team to do feasibility studies and cost-benefit analyses, as well as doing all the legal tax returns (if required) and balancing the books.
Your human resources and IT teams offer support with recruitment and training, and compliance with labour laws, and installing technological systems to ensure all goods that transit through the warehouse are logged into a database using the best, most up-to-date software. Meanwhile, the legal department handles all contracts related to operational matters, as well as any labour law or other disputes that arise.
Day to day operations
Care must be taken to maintain the facilities and equipment that you are using. This means taking into consideration weight of goods on the shelving units and floor weight capacity; weight of vehicles that are admitted onto the site; number of vehicles allowed in operation at any one time, maximizing the layout of the warehouse to ensure the most streamlined and efficient movement of merchandise; a team of well-trained and safety-conscious professionals in order to protect merchandise, equipment, facilities and personnel.
It is also mandatory to have the approved fire security systems in place and regular drills to ensure staff and personnel are prepared for any event.
It is also recommended that management continually review and evaluate the systems and structures in place to reach maximum efficiency. Mark your progress against your business plan and evaluate whether you are reaching your targets on your pathway to creating a network of warehouses.
A helping hand
One further way to ensure you reach the goals you have in mind is with the help of external consultants. When businesses need to reconfigure or consolidate efforts, it can be difficult to see what the problems are from the inside looking out. Consultants, who are experts in streamlining businesses, can come in with a fresh eye and monitor, review and evaluate what aspects can be changed in order to take your business where you want it to go.
Specifics of what a consultant may look at could be data management, information flows, software and technology usage, human resources and management policies, or rebranding and corporate communications strategies.
Good luck as you embark on working in a challenging but rewarding sector!