A warehouse is a place or facility that is set aside to store manufactured goods, raw materials as they wait movement to other destinations where they can reach the final consumers. In other terms, a warehouse is a store, where companies keep the goods or materials intended for developing other finished products (Richards 2014, 6).
The warehousing function is essential for any enterprise; therefore, the need for hiring a manager to oversee the many activities. According to Richards (2014, 36), the warehouse manager is supposed to supervise the receipt, storage, and the dispatch of goods to their intended destinations. An analysis of the three large roles means that warehouse managers not only manage processes, but they are also responsible for ensuring that people function effectively. The management of people entails the planning and supervision of work in the warehouse, including the assigning of roles. This means that the manager must supervise activities in the warehouse on a daily basis. Another role entails liaison with the customers as well as employers regarding the availability of space for storage of goods. The manager also reviews the operations of the warehouse based on the schedules of shipping. Lastly, a warehouse manager conducts inspections of the entire warehousing system, resulting in improvements where necessary.
Every company dealing in goods often aims at embracing strategies that are essential for delivering goods to the customers efficiently. The storage of products is an integral part of the active system of inventory management. This happens under warehouse operations, where firms ensure that goods or raw materials are shipped at the right time and availed to customers or for manufacturing other products. The initiatives that are central to prudent management of warehouse include receiving, inventory movement, shipping, and warehouse safety.
Companies that source for goods from distant locations should have a shipping dock, with clerks to ensure that all products have been received and all inventories secured. The clerks maintain a receiving log to ensure the receipt of expected inventory. The arrival of inventory should be accompanied by the movement of the goods within the warehouse. This entails the use of qualified and licensed handled to operate book and fork lifts. Proper organization and handling of goods, more so under the first in, first out (FIFO) system, ensures that there is proper flow of goods from into and out of the warehouse. Shipping is another vital practice in inventory management (Richards, 2014, 126). Warehouse managers have to ensure that goods leaving the warehouse are safe. Various means of guaranteeing security have been devised, especially for goods that are fragile, including packaging and insurance. Lastly, warehouse safety should be taken into consideration. Besides the goods, the management of the warehouse should have a checklist of all the employees, with the goal of providing safety equipment to each one of them. Additionally, the administration should ensure the machines and equipment are in the best conditions to enhance efficiency while reducing risks that are associated with faultiness.
Warehousing is an elaborate function when examined in the context of enterprise management. The processes of warehousing include receipt, storage of goods, picking, and shipment of inventories. The first process is receipt, which has various tasks, including unloading of goods, sorting, identification, inspection to ascertain quantity and quality, preparation of products for storage and the actual storage of the goods (Richards, 2014, 58). Receipt is an intense process, which clears the way for other critical processes starting from the storage of goods.
The second process is storage, whose essence is to establish an inventory of items. According to Richards (2014, 95) storage includes the collection of goods from the reception area, transfer to the storage area, temporary inspection, and the transfer of the goods to the shipment area. Some of the critical influences of the process include the technologies employed, the storage requirements, and the space available and the urgency of orders. Order picking accompanies storage. Here, the focus is on the orders, where all elements emphasized by the customers are considered. Picking orders are assigned to employees based on radio terminal, picking list, or batch terminal among other methods. Key considerations include the order index, name, detailed location, and quantity.
Lastly, there is shipment, which is the movement of goods from the warehouse to the exact destination. In Richards (2014, 99) view, the most important activities are packaging, inspection, and loading. This enhances the rate of approval of order receipt by customers.
The management of operations in a warehouse can be a difficult task, especially when it is done manually. Warehouse management system (WMS) implies a digitization of warehouse operations. Richards (2011, 137) defined a WMS refers as a technology application, which aids warehouse managers in managing and controlling the activities in the warehouse. Some of the core functions of WMS is to guide inventory recording and put away, advising on the need to replenish shipments, and optimizing the storage and shipment of orders.
As noted in the definition, a WMS is an IT-based technological tool that is essential for managing the day-to-day activities in a warehouse. The first reason for having a WMS is that it helps to reduce errors in inventory management. Reliance on humans can at times cause setbacks, considering they tire and can cause errors deliberately or nonintentional; thereby, causing losses. Secondly, WMS speeds up the amount of activities and transactions. In essence, humans can be slow when operating based on papers. A paperless system such a WMS can increase the productivity of workers, by helping them to complete many transactions with a high level of accuracy. Another benefit of WMS is the reduction of the costs of managing a warehouse (Richards 2011, 138). For example, an enterprise with a highly functional WMS may need to hire a relatively low number of workers as opposed to one without it.
The way a firm runs the warehouse functions can determine the success or setback of the enterprise. Warehouse management entails various logistical functions, which are highly integrated, and whose success depends on the nature of coordination. Most of the challenges that are witnessed in warehouse management arise from data management (Richards 2014, 43). The first challenge regards the accuracy of inventory, where there is a likelihood of understocking of overstocking due to the lack of full visibility of inventory by the manufacturers. Secondly, inventory management can fail due to redundant processes, especially the long process of documentation. Various technological options have been advanced to address his challenge. Another shortcoming is the utilization of warehouse space. This is also tied to the issue of warehouse layout. The organization of the warehouse, for instance, arranging fast moving goods near the front, can help optimize the utilization of space. An odd design of the facility can confuse when it comes to the movement of items; as such, affecting the entire supply chain system that is tied to a warehouse. Last but not least, the location of inventory can be a challenge, more so where warehouses are located far from the customers. This culminates into a cost issue, in turn, affecting profitability.
Richards, G., 2014. Warehouse management: a complete guide to improving efficiency and minimizing costs in the modern warehouse. London, Kogan Page.