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Three features that can make or break a warehouse

Posted by Mark
January 18, 2014 in Features

To the layman, a warehouse will appear to not be a great deal more than a place for stocks of items to be kept, with a metal shed type structure being all there is to it. However, whilst an accurate description on one level, that level is only a base one.

Getting everything right, those all important features that make or break a warehouse, is where the devil is. It is, after all all in the details.

There are three areas which deserve to be focused on more than others of course and, understanding these can really make a difference.

1. Location, location, etc

It vital to get the right location for your warehouse but, the most important aspect in this respect can vary considerably between businesses.

For example, many will want to choose a location close to their customers. This is a sensible way to do things of course but, for firms with customers over a large geographical area is not always practical.

In such cases, choosing a location which has excellent links to roads is sensible. Again, dependent on the practicalities for individual businesses, it may also be necessary to get a location which is close to other components of transport infrastructure, such as airports, sea ports and railways.

Another driving force behind the selection of a warehouse’s location include how the business is being delivered. If it is a high end customer base for example, an equally profiled location should be considered. Conversely, if a low cost service area, other concerns are promoted.

2. Capacity and flexibility

Whilst getting the right location is paramount, sometimes hard decisions need to be made regarding the existing facilities. For example, a firm may well have found the perfect location some years ago but, through expansion or increased demand, now finds itself without enough space for day to day operations.

Quite apart from the health and safety issues of working in a cramped environment, it can prove to be incredibly costly. If not addressed in a timely fashion therefore, future plans for growth and even sustainability can easily become threatened.

It is costly to move though, even if a good location is found. In such cases, many firms big, small and gargantuan have found success instead by developing their existing sites.

In many cases, this can be extending the facility or by creating a new facility on the site of the old one. Alternatively, simply using wasted space within the current warehouse is an effective way forward, with the installation of a mezzanine floor for example.

3. Management

Perhaps the most critical aspect to get right with a warehouse today is the Warehouse Management System (WMS). This not only needs to be robust and enterprising, but also needs to monitor throughput accurately.

With the right data, a warehouse is, in essence, an easy beast to manage. Without it, it is nothing more than a large shed.

Taking the time, and expense, to invest in a good WMS will always reap rewards, ensuring inventory levels are kept in check, inbounds and outbounds are adequately monitored and future projections best state future requirements.

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