All Stacked Up and Rooted
by Samir Kadam
Revisiting the vital basics of warehouse operations to ensure they are not left out in a bid to modernize a warehouse.
Up until a decade ago, a warehouse was not much more than a godown- a basic four-walled structure with sub-optimal sizing and inadequate ventilation. These were complemented by the lack of appropriate lighting, racking system, hygiene and safety standards. To add to these, the godowns lacked vital technological solutions that help run the facility. But in the last few years, there has been a monumental leap in the industry which marked a new dawn for the industry.
The Indian warehousing sector is getting progressively redefined from the traditional concept of godowns to modern-day automated set-ups. In the real sense, Supply Chain Management is witnessing a paradigm shift towards large logistics parks with state-of-the-art facilities.
Today in the logistics industry, the warehousing sector is witnessing a great boom. Warehousing companies in India are increasing their capacity, expanding their footprints, adapting new concepts to keep pace with international standards, and in some cases, exceeding them. It seems easy to carry on adopting newer technology to make life easier, but there is a learning curve that prompts one to stop. The tech-implementations that are being made are not just a giant leap forward, but also strategic in nature, ensuring no solutions are force-fit to problems that might not exist. This lowers the operational pressure immensely while saving time and vital resources. This only comes with industry expertise that the country seems to be developing at a lightning pace. New-age warehouses and warehousing operations are built with the foundation of decades of relevant experience, and with experience, come the modern warehouses.
Modern warehousing forms an integral part of the Supply Chain Industry where goods are not only stored for safe-keeping but several value-added services are implemented to process inventories. The game of modernization is all about ensuring the ease with which core warehousing operations are processed. In a bid to accomplish this, several major logistics parks have been developed and some are currently under development across the country around the major logistics hubs of Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and NCR.
Modernizing a warehouse is perhaps the best thing to happen to supply chain, but while doing so, it is important to keep the basics in mind. Maintaining a reliable, safe and modern warehouse can be possible for operations of all sizes and budgets, provided that the basic practices are followed. These include:
- Safety – With the increase in the number of warehouses across the country the number of fatal injuries in warehousing is increasing year after year. Because of this, it is important that we, as a 3PL player, pay close attention to common warehouse operational pitfalls, including machine training procedures, faulty infrastructure, facility maintenance issues and others.
- Material Storage – Warehouse Operations preaches the importance of storing all materials in standardized bins or pallets and in locations that are strategic and well-labelled. It also recommends that the operations which can implement cross-docking procedures in order to reduce cycle time and material handling costs.
- Communication with the Planning/Engineering Team – Too often organizations experience communication breakdowns between the personnel working on the floor and those working in the corporate office. While a planning team might be aware of external factors impacting the inventory cycle, the warehouse might not learn of this until the 11th hour. They can act as a bridge to mitigate such downfalls. This common scenario can be remedied by more frequent and efficient communication within a cloud-based software system.
Modern warehouse operations have evolved into a rather inclusive field, but that does not mean that the basics have changed; always put the customer first, focus on fulfilment times, and keep a regimented study on facility safety and organization. By following these steps, you, too, will have the tools you need to run an efficient enterprise.