Do you have a leadership in the warehouse that is adapted to the modern approach of warehouse production?

What kind of leadership do you have in your organization at the warehouse? Is there a leadership that encourages development and innovation? Or is it a leadership that prefers “business as usual”? If you have not thought about this before, it’s time to do that regardless of where in the organization you are. It definitely affects your company’s market position.

It is a crucial issue in order to conduct competitive logistics which in turn affects the competitiveness of the entire company

Historically, the warehouse logistics has not been particularly high priority in many companies. The approach has often been, “a warehouse should just work and keep it orderly and give a good service.” How you did it or how efficient your warehouse could be was not interesting. Senior management accepted the cost without questioning. This philosophy lasted as long as companies made money and continued to increase its turnover and profit in an uninterrupted pace.

But in the increasingly fierce competition that exists as well in these uncertain economic times companies begin reassess warehouse logistics. Every dime you can save on logistics is a margin enhancer therefore many companies begin to have the same approach to a warehouse as a production unit. Order lines or process lines is something that can be seen as a part of production and you need to constantly measure the pace and analyze the cost of this. It is essential to constantly develop your “production methods” and to benchmark your warehouse to see if it is competitive.

With increased demands for continuous improvements and efficiency you need a different leadership. In the past, the requirements of a warehouse manager or supervisor could be, that they had a sense of orderliness and was service minded and of course had a good memory for part/item numbers. Today it requires modern leaders who are very good at motivating their staff and encourage innovation, is technically interested in software and automation and have a great competence in lean. As you can see, a modern leader in logistics need to be much more multifaceted than before.

When senior management decides to focus on warehouse logistics and its costs, the first thing they should find out if they have the right leadership at the warehouse. The existing leadership, do they have the right ambitions and skills to work with a more production-based leadership. It’s not easy to just switch if you have worked in a certain way in many years, you must also have a genuine interest in change management. It requires a more active leadership and you must be quick to give feedback and motivate. You have to work a lot more with the KPI and expand the number of KPI to measure costs in a more nuanced way because you need to be able to justify and explain the costs more frequent for senior management.

As I wrote earlier, you must as the warehouse manager have an interest in technology, both software and hardware to be able to visualize what you can apply in your own business and what advantages you get of it. To get the staff to run faster and faster, thus continuously increasing productivity is a method that has long been rejected, it is about finding those famous time thieves and work smarter. To do that you need to be innovative

In some cases, you must change the warehouse manager or supervisor to get the desired skills. It is important not to ignore this fact, although there are tough decisions. Times change, and with it leadership. Those leaders who do not manage to adapt their leadership often hold other valuable skills that are important to keep but maybe on some kind of support role.

Finally, if you going to streamline your warehouse logistics look at the leadership first. Do you have leaders that have the skills and is motivated for change management and production-based leadership? Then it is time to look at the investments in WMS and maybe automation. If you do not have the right leadership in the warehouse the risk is that your ROI calculations becomes a huge fiasco when the investments are in place.


Roberth Karlsson

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