Supply chain management and logistics is taking centre stage in many companies today. There is a realisation that in the majority of markets it is not only companies competing but their whole supply chains.
Until recently the areas of warehousing and distribution have not been seen as core to a company’s operations and as a result have not always attracted the cream of management talent. Experienced managers have tended to fall into roles such supply chain management, logistics management and warehouse management from areas such as procurement, I.T. and even HR. Having landed there however the majority have stayed because of the challenges and the variety of work compared to other management roles.
Outsourcing in this area has also been popular as companies look to buy in expertise and look to reduce costs. As a result in-house managers lack the basic knowledge to assist them in ensuring that their warehouses are equipped, not only in terms of fork lift trucks but also trained labour and technology, to play a significant role in the fast changing markets we experience today.
The effective management of warehouse operations and inventory control are critical to the supply chain of any organisation. The ability to maintain a smooth, constant and efficient flow of goods and services to industry and in today’s e-commerce world, the individual consumer, provides a significant challenge to warehouse and logistics managers in terms of processes, organisation and cost.
Managers are continually trying to balance increasing customer satisfaction with reducing inventory levels and cutting costs.
The warehouse has always been seen as an expensive cost centre however it is fundamental to achieving the perfect order – on time, in full, damage free and with the correct paperwork. Very few companies are in a position to supply on a Just In Time basis and therefore the storage of products becomes inevitable especially within a global economy.
The fundamental aspect is to ensure that the minimum amount of stock is held to satisfy the majority of demand at an acceptable cost. This results in a number of trade-offs within the warehouse which must be balanced to ensure maximum efficiency.
Technology continues to advance in this area with sophisticated software and hardware products being introduced into the market. Warehouse automation is increasing in popularity along with both voice and robotic technologies.
These areas, amongst many others, are crucial in today’s fast paced economies and warehouse and logistics managers need to be kept abreast of what’s happening in their field such as the introduction of new equipment including automation, warehouse technologies such as cloud solutions and likely future challenges such as 3D printing.
There is therefore an increasing need for warehouse management training to assist the new breed of supply chain and logistics managers.
Courses can include face to face learning with an experienced trainer, in-house on the job training and distance learning.
As Michael Chang the tennis player said “You can work really hard, but if you’re not training in the right way you’re not going to improve and get to the level that you want to”.
Gwynne Richards produces and runs warehouse management courses on behalf of companies and organisations including The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, UNI, 360 International, Terrapinn and Universities including Warwick, Westminster, Hong Kong Polytechnic and the Singapore Institute of Management. He has also co-produced a distance learning course for Informa. Gwynne has also published warehouse management books and a logistics and supply chain toolkit which are available to purchase from Amazon.