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Warehousing: Best practices and innovations

Logistics experts and professionals go through a series of highly coordinated activities to ensure that we, as consumers, get the products we need, wherever and whenever we want them. One of those logistics activities is warehousing, which is familiar to all retailers and requires a variety of complex management, organization, and coordination strategies.

Looking closer at this aspect of the supply chain, we realize just how much detailed planning and management is necessary to achieve a successful logistics warehousing operation - making it as critical as other functions in logistics like freight forwarding or transport services.

Warehousing is so much more than just storing products in pallets and racks. In this blog, we will tackle everything you need to know about warehousing, from its role in an efficient supply chain operation, to the challenges and innovations in this sector.

Being aware of those elements as a business owner or operations manager, you can set the best practices for your warehouse or establish the right expectations when partnering with a warehouse service provider.
Warehousing Dubai Blog Cover - warehouse and forklift image

The role of warehousing in logistics and supply chain management

‘Warehousing’ and ‘storage’ are two concepts that are often being used interchangeably. The role of warehousing in the logistics and supply chain industry goes beyond providing a safe and secure storage solutions. Storage is just one of the many important facets in warehousing aside from analytics-based planning, execution, movement design and overall inflow and outflow management.

Warehousing, when done effectively, positively affects the other aspects of the business and product such as cost, quality, distribution and ultimately, customer satisfaction.

Product quality

Different types of products require different warehousing functionalities to retain their quality. Factors like temperature controlled, put-away and retrieval design, packaging or repacking, safety systems and many others are key to retaining the quality of a product before it goes out to the customer or end-consumer.

Understanding these product requirements helps in a proper assessment and allocation of the resources to achieve an optimized and cost-effective product handling.

Cost

Warehouse operations have associated logistical costs which may either help the business to be more cost-effective or the reverse. Here are some situations where an optimized warehousing strategy benefits a business:
  • Knowing how to balance the rate of supply against the demand of consumers lessens the possibility of items going to waste, and therefore also reduces manufacturing costs associated to it.
  • Having buffer stocks on hand or closer to manufacturing facilities reduces costs of going idle in production.
  • Retail businesses thrive off from assets in the form of inventory. A secure warehouse provides the necessary protection that businesses need to protect the cornerstone of their business- their products. This is very important for high-value goods but is also equally important for large quantities of products.
  • Having a warehouse in a bonded zone affects the cashflow related to certain inventories as it helps in deferring the payments of customs duties.

Flow of goods

Placing products in one central location facilitates the flow of goods, from receipt of the items from the suppliers up to the distribution process to manufacturers or end-consumers.

At times of an unexpected disruption in the supply chain, consumers’ consumption never stops. Businesses can use warehousing as a protection against these unforeseen circumstances in our global supply chain by covering the bases, especially for fast-moving goods like e-commerce products or fast fashion.

An effective logistics warehousing strategy also supports businesses  with the advanced planning  prior to a seasonal change.

Customer satisfaction

When factors that changed the consumers’ buying behaviour started to emerge, a new era of consumption arose. Today, the present trade economy revolves around the standards of convenience and speed. One of the longest standing drivers of this new consumer habit is the internet. The increased mobile and web connectivity empowered buyers to have on-demand access to all kinds of products via the internet. When it became easier to shop, consumers also wanted the items to be delivered faster.

These expectations directed to brands and logistics providers were further boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic when, aside from reasons of convenience, safety was added to the priorities.
96% of customers consider “fast delivery” to mean same-day delivery.
Warehouse efficiencies have a direct association to customers’ expectations because when a product is delivered at the most economical, secure, and fast method, customer satisfaction can be guaranteed.

Top innovative solutions in the warehousing sector and the challenges they solve

The main challenge in the warehousing sector right now lies in the capacity and flexibility to accommodate the ever-increasing consumer demands and the ever-faster requirement to fulfil these products. But these challenges are not necessarily something logistics experts mope about as there are innovative solutions available to take care of that.

Technology drives a lot of innovative solutions in warehousing and logistics these days. Most examples of innovative warehousing solutions that will be mentioned in this blog use the power of technology for automation, optimization, monitoring, and accurate reporting of warehouse activities. Businesses wanting to stay on top of the game should make sure that they apply the following top industry choices.

Warehouse Management System

Technology may have disrupted the consumer buying behaviour by making it easier and more accessible than ever to purchase, fulfil or return products. But technology also has its ways to aid the supply chain industry and solve this very challenge - thanks to the advent of Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). Warehousing service providers and retail businesses running their own warehouse operations should make it imperative to have a WMS as part of their complete supply chain management (SCM) strategy.

Click for your Warehouse Management SystemRSA Global – ClickWM (Warehouse Management System)

One of the numerous advantages of using a WMS is having the capability to handle excessive stock and inaccurate inventory resulting in unpreparedness for the demand. A WMS centralizes all data businesses need to respond quickly to their customers’ demands and implement a rapid product fulfilment while keeping an optimized flow of operations and usage of resources.

Cloud technology like a WMS offers the visibility that businesses need to understand and analyse the movement of inventory and make informed decisions based on real-time insights provided by the system.

At RSA Global, we offer cost-effective digital transformation to our customers by providing not only an intuitive WMS (ClickWM) but also by integrating it with our digital freight tools ClickSC (Click for your Supply Chain) and ClickRF (Click for your Road Freight). ClickSC is our freight management system and first API tool while ClickRF is our advanced transport management system. This set of digital platforms for international freight, e-commerce, road freight and smart warehousing is called Click Eco-System and enables our customers to have full visibility and control of key supply chain pillars using the power of a click.

RSA Global Click Eco-System CoverKnow more about RSA Global’s Click Eco-system. Watch it here!


Robotics and Automation

Automation is the present and future of the supply chain industry. Integrating robotics and automated warehouse systems with the human factors of operations enhances everyone’s efficiency and minimizes the chance for errors that both systems- humans and automations, may incur.

Some of the fastest growing cutting-edge technologies in logistics warehouses are the automated storage and retrieval systems and picking-sorting solutions. Using these technologies, warehouse operators and e-commerce fulfilment centres can streamline a faster and more efficient fulfilment process improving the overall customer experience.

Warehouse ImageSource: The Business Journals

Another robotic innovation in the logistics warehousing industry is the use of robots for cleaning. This is something that we, at RSA Global, use to uphold our value on safety. Cleanliness is one of the cornerstones of an organized warehouse. By using robotic cleaning machines, we can maintain a safe working environment for our employees resulting in a more productive labour force.

Other innovative warehousing solutions:

  • RFID
An RFID or Radio-frequency identification uses electromagnetic and radio transmission technology to track when an item moves in or out of the facility. RFID tags can be scanned from a distance and RFID readers can read more than one item at a time. This helps in tracking the item’s movements accurately and lessens the lead time produced by scanning items one by one.
  • Wearables
Warehouse operations require a lot of movement by the clerks and operators. Wearable technologies increase the mobility of warehouse staff while they also provide necessary data to analyse the operator’s movements within the facility. These data are then used to improve the routes within the facility and to decide when and where to dedicate warehouse equipment to enhance the speed of each transactions. Some examples of these wearables are handheld computers, activity-tracking bracelets, voice headsets and many others.

Best practices: warehousing and storage in logistics

The most efficient warehousing operations follow a set of best practices using a good balance between technological innovation and efficient labour force. As a business which owns and operates an in-house warehouse, you can implement and observe the following best practices. And should you be looking for a warehousing provider, it will help you to find out  what to look for in a potential partner.

Here are some of the best practices in logistics warehousing.

Prioritizing health and safety

One of the many values that RSA Global prioritizes is providing a healthy and safe environment for all our employees, particularly, our warehouse operators. Placing health and wellness plans keeps our disruptors productive and strong when serving our clients. An effective and happy workforce can then complement the competencies of the digital and technological advancements in our warehouses.

Maximize and optimize with the aid of technology

In this fast-paced trade economy, warehouses are expected to be equipped with an equally fast solution. It is imperative now for warehouses to have a competitive warehouse or inventory management systems to achieve a faster product fulfilment. 

Centralize information sharing through tech-integration

Warehousing is just one of the important pillars of a successful supply chain operations. If you are a business dealing with a lot of international and cross-border road freight shipments, having an integrated system for all the key logistics activities is not only ideal but even  necessary. These solutions provide a wider visibility across the organization and among the stakeholders.

Regular training programs

As innovation in the warehouse upgrades, learning curves steepen. That is why it is important to conduct regular training programs for operators on how to efficiently navigate through the advancing technologies being implemented.

RSA Global Warehouse Team

Allowing for disruptive feedback sharing

If there is anyone credible to share improvement suggestions, that would be the people on the ground. Hence, establish open feedback sharing from warehouse staff who might be experiencing any inefficiencies with the system. Management people may see different issues than operators, but the best thing is when both parties are able to pinpoint the problem and come up with a strong solution together.

Warehousing: In a nutshell

Warehousing and storage in logistics can be complex and expensive, especially for brands that are just starting out. There is always the choice to outsource all or a part of your logistics operations to a 3PL provider. Retail businesses deal with a lot of resource management, so choosing a trusted and reliable logistics or fulfilment partner is a must. Should you be interested in learning more about that topic, we recommend you read our article “What to look for in a reliable logistics company?"

Choosing a professional warehousing and fulfilment provider does not save you resources but also reduces the time-consuming part of fulfilling an order from picking, packing, shipping and replenishment of stocks. All of this could be taken out of your responsibilities, so you can focus on your core competencies.

At RSA Global, we offer a comprehensive warehouse solution for businesses from various industries including F&B, consumers goods, chemicals, retail, and e-commerce. Our customers can enjoy the strategic and accessible locations of our warehouses which are just in the bonded vicinity of Jebel Ali Port and Al Maktoum Airport in Dubai, UAE. Our customizable end-to-end solutions are backed by our tech-powered WMS and freight management platforms, giving full transparency and accurate insights for every supply chain decision.

To learn more about our tech-forward warehousing and logistics solutions, reach out to us now! 

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