Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Logistics - Warehouse Management - Part II

In this session we will learn about the factors which influences the Warehouse Decision Making in an organization.

The success of your business depends on logical warehouse plans because this allows you to make the best use of available space. It will also facilitate better inventory control and efficiently coordinate the movement of products in and out of storage.

The decisions related to warehouse are involved at Strategic Level, Tactical Level and Operational Level.

Strategic Level Decisions : These decisions are taken by the company top management, have the long lasting impact on the operation of the warehouse and involve major investment. For example decisions like

• Warehouse Ownership Decision (Role of Private, Public or Contract operations)
• How many warehouses and where to be located ?
• Material Handling Equipment selection

Tactical Level Decisions : Tactical Planning is the process of taking the strategic plan and breaking it down into specific, medium term actions and plans which involves significant investment.

• Facility Layout (Sizing of the warehouse areas and storage Layout) and its equipment
• Stacking Norms, Replenishment schemes and batch sizing

Operational Level Decisions : Decision and policies related to the real-time operation of the warehouse.

Initially we will focus our attention to Tactical Level decisions ie Facility Layout and Stacking norms.

As a Logistics Manager, you have an existing warehouse that you would like to optimize or you're moving to an entirely new facility, a thorough plan will ensure that your company's most important needs are met while still staying within the budget. There are several steps in creating a comprehensive storage strategy.

1) Goal setting. Before you design the warehouse, it is better to understand what your warehousing needs are and set some goals for the new design. Is your main objective to reduce your warehouse costs, or to offer better customer service (e.g., faster shipping or delivery of products)? Perhaps you simply want to get the most space you can out of your facility at the lowest price possible. The Goal setting should be in align with the company's objectives. For example FMCG consumer durable company (Sony, LG) whose objective is to offer good service to their customer. The Logistics Manager should design larger warehouse to keep more stocks and deploy material equipment handling for faster shipment of goods.

2) Information gathering and analysis. Now that you are aware of your goals, it's time for a fact-finding mission about your operation. You'll want to gather information regarding

Types of items that must be stored. For example Hindustan Unilever manufacturing food products like Tea, coffee, Kwality Ice cream, Annapurna Atta and Toiletry products like Domex, Vim bar, Rin etc. In the warehouse food products should be kept separately from toiletry products. Warehouse Manager should follow the guidelines issued by Food & Drug Authority while stacking the food items. In the FMCG company freebies are provided along with items to promote sales. HUL may plan to give ordinary Cricket bat autographed by Sachin Tendulkar during IPL cricket match along with Annapurna Atta to promote their products. In such case the warehouse need to stores not only Annapurna Atta but also cricket bats.

Frequency and volume of shipments and deliveries. Items like Tea, Rin, Vim bar will have high frequency and huge volume of shipments and deliveries whereas Items like Annapurna Atta and Domex will have low frequency and low volume shipments and deliveries.

Month to month fluctuations in inventory. Demand for Kwality ice cream fluctuate according to season. During summer season the demand for Ice cream is high and hence the warehouse should keep more inventory in cold storage and during Winter the ice cream sales will be less and hence one should keep low inventory.

Projected data for growth in the company is expected to change storage needs. Warehouse storage area is planned not only to meet current volume requirement but also future expected growth for next two to three years. If the company project good growth for existing products and plan for new product launches in the coming years the Logistics Manager should plan to have enough space at warehouse to meet the future growth plan.

Keeping current warehouse layout plan is important. If you plan to continue use of certain machinery or processes in new warehouse you may require to include these details in your new report, as well as including any safety concerns for the operation.

3) Layout planning. You have to create the new layout after gathering all the data on your company's warehousing space and requirements, As warehousing needs are hugely differ, there are many different storage models/options to accommodate every type of item. It's important to consider the different options and decide on the best storage methods as well as the most efficient design for your space.

Layout plan should also include product type (size, weight, solid / liquid/ gas, perishable), storage type (Vertical or Horizontal) and the material handling equipments. If your products are slightly heavy in nature like UPS/Inverter and stored in racks, it require Fork lift for speed storage / retrieval and movement. These fork lift require adequate passage (aisles) in the warehouse for movement. Again selection of fork lift (manual or Electric operated) depends upon the product nature and the type of storage. If you keep stocks in vertically (height) rack then you may require electrically operated fork lift to lift the stocks from the height which involves more investment on equipment and require less investment on space utilization due to vertical storage pattern. If you keep stocks in Horizontal rack then you may require manually operated forklift which require less investment in machine and require more investment on space utilization due to horizontal storage. If you plan to have warehouse in major locations like Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai where square foot (Sq.Ft) space cost is more, then you can work out optimal cost by selecting various option (i) by choosing vertical storage facility with Electrically operated fork lift or (ii) by choosing horizontal storage facility with manually operated fork lift and choose the most benefitted model.

For example APC is well known UPS, Inverter manufacturing company. UPS and Inverter vary in dimension and weight. Packed one unit of UPS or Inverter are termed as Unitization. Normally few pieces of packed UPS or Inverters are kept in palette for batch movement are termed as Palletization. Palletized UPS / Inverters are stored in racks. If they use high rack then they have to use electrically operated forklift to store / retrieval of pallets.

If your warehouse operations are more complex due to different product nature [example Reliance deals with Fresh stores for Vegetables require cold storage facility to preserve vegetables, Reliance Mart for consumer goods require general warehouse with huge space, Petro Products and chemicals and require specialized storage facility], there are companies that specialize in warehouse supplies and equipment often offer planning services along with quotes for the materials required. Their knowledge of warehousing equipment, design and safety is a major asset during this process.

4) Implementing. Implementation is major task. Setting up or re-organizing an existing warehouse can be a very big job. Fortunately, many industrial equipment companies offer this as part of their services as well and they able to assist you in proper execution of the design you have selected. They can also suggest better method to adopt which will be beneficial to the company.

5) Maintenance. Part of the plans for your warehouse must include how the facility will be maintained on an ongoing basis. Procedures for taking regular inventory, continuing excellent safety procedures and maintaining equipment in top condition are necessary to keep your organization running smoothly.

It is clear that there are a lot of factors involved in an efficient, cost effective warehouse design that maximizes available storage space.

The blog users who are new to warehouse management may not familiarize with the terms like pallet, fork lift, rack. I have given below the pictures of pallet, fork lift, rack for better understanding.

In the next session we will do case study by comparing the warehouse operation between FMCG industry (Amul) and APC (Consumer durable). This will make user to understand the concept clearly. Please note that this is only hypothetical case and not real scenario.


  1. that was a good read, like the first part..i've bookmark this post..

  2. THanks for the usefull info

  3. hay there my name is bilal khan.
    I had joined the field of warehouse just a month and half before.And i am going with a lots of stress and poor performance.
    because the thing is that i am new at this field and i dont no much about it.
    I need some formulas about the excel,so that i can compare my reports and also fine tune them in the best possible manner, we have the WMS software but, all the files are first made in the excel then they all get import in the software,so the help is required.

  4. Businesses can conserve warehouse space by carefully planning their storage layout and making use of the right material handling equipment. Narrow aisle forklifts, for one, can allow you to reduce the space between storage shelves and increase your warehouse capacity by 30% or more.

  5. Hi,

    I think use of warehouse management software will lead the increase in business profitability.

    i had tried CLEAN Warehouse Inventory management software and get rise up to 35% in my current tea product business in a 3 months

    i suggest you to check demo and then deside it will be best fitted in your current business need

  6. Nice post sir, Warehouse management is all about saving space and keeping products in a way that they can be accessed easily. It is also advisable to have a good WMS in place. We were using some low end software but since we have shifted to MCLane Logistics WMS, things are even better. I would like to add, it is very important for the warehouse manager to use his judgement as well while planning out best warehouse strategy.

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