I have written in previous articles about my point of view regarding warehousing. I want to call warehousing “warehouse production” because it is more and more important for companies to have a cost-effective supply chain. It is a margin enhancer and sometimes the only way for some companies to be competitive. And if you call it warehouse production you make an important statement because everybody knows how important it is to measure and follow up a production.
If we see the warehouse activities like a production it is important to also use real time monitoring and visualization like in a modern production. In a production line you can often see big screens with important information about production goals and what pace you have and issues that need to be solved. A modern WMS have the same features and is a important tool to use in the warehouse departments.
If you have read my previous articles you also know I am a big fan of job rotation in the warehouse. When your staff don´t have any fixed positions or departments you can move resources where it is best needed. If you work with “floating” staff real time visualization is a great tool, your staff know exactly why you move them. Sometimes they can take own decisions before you even have time to react. Your staff have a much greater sense of ownership when they can follow in detail what is happening in the whole warehouse. Communication is one of the most important issues in a warehouse. If the staff don’t know the reason behind a decision it is a big risk you will have a frustrated staff with a lot of questions or maybe they focus on wrong tasks and sub-optimize the warehouse.
Information is very important in a modern and complex warehouse and my advice is to invest in real time monitoring and visualization tools if you don’t already have it. I can promise that you will see increasing efficiency in every department of your warehouse. You as a leader will have an easier communication with your staff. You do not need to argue for your decisions in the same way, the staff only need to look at the screen.
If you company are going to invest in a WMS, look if the system supports real time monitoring and visualization and how flexible the tool is. It is important you can configure the tool and adapt it to your specific needs . It is a great management tool especially if you need to take quick decisions. It is easy to communicate the pace you set for every process in every department. And the sense of ownership is an important factor if you want a loyal staff who take full responsibility for the processes in the warehouse.
Real time monitoring and visualization is just as important in a warehouse as in a production unit, if you want a cost-efficient warehouse. More and more companies begins to understand the saving potential in warehouse production.