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Warehousing – A Safety Net!

Warehouses, in most cases, have loading docks for the purpose of loading and unloading of goods.

Warehousing can be best defined as the implementation of administrative and certain physical functions like receipt, identification, and verification of products linked with the storage of goods and materials. Warehousing facilities are an integral part of the supply chains of organisations. You are now going to see how and why! What is business all about? Making profits. Yes, very much and where does that come from? Customers! Customer satisfaction is about giving them what they want, when they want and how they want. This is exactly what the core function of warehousing is. It strives to manage stock- in storage, received as well as dispatched, keeping in mind what your customer wants. Supplying the right stock or products at the right time and place is warehousing and it is achieved by effective stock management.

It would greatly help you to know why stock management is important when it comes to warehousing. You would think of it as an obvious assumption but you would be surprised to know the extent of damage it can do to your business, if mismanaged. You will not only end up with dissatisfied customers but also incur huge financial losses which will in turn affect profitability. Scary right? Now there are few things that you can do, in order to avoid such a situation. You should always make it a point to complete and record each and every pick, delivery and receipt of stock. The regular auditing of stock is an absolute must. All this has to be integrated with the Warehouse Management System.

There are a varied number of warehousing facilities and it would only help you to get a faint picture of what they are like. A warehouse could be found in the form of a large distribution centre which receives and stores goods and eventually sends them to the store or customer. This could also be established at a regional level meaning which, it would be larger in scale. Then a basic warehouse could simply be a terminal in a harbour that only receives goods which are then loaded to a ship. Other forms of warehouses include a manufacturer’s warehouse, a 3PL warehouse or more recently a common or multi-user warehouse. In Europe, there is a rising trend of multi-user warehousing facilities. These are highly suited to small and medium businesses for short term and long term operations. Consolidation of goods coming from various customers into a single facility is the principle of this strategy. Another kind of warehousing facility very dissimilar to general facilities is a cross-dock facility. A cross-dock facility is a time saving ingenious method of receiving goods from suppliers and then moving them to the respective downstream customers post careful sorting of the said goods.

Not to complicate things further, but it has to be mentioned that more often than not, people use the terms warehouses and distribution centres loosely and interchangeably. They are actually pretty darn different! On the one hand, a warehouse specialises in the receipt of large batches of products resulting from the production process and is largely static in nature and on the other hand, a distribution centre focuses on the careful selection of stock and its delivery to the customers in a very time sensitive environment. Distribution centres apply to high velocity wholesale and retail order fulfilment. They are also known as branch warehouses or distribution warehouses.

The nature, layout and equipment needed by a certain facility are dependent on the source of the product, the delivery, the nature of the business and the function performed by the facility in the supply chain. I hope the plusses of warehousing are now clear to you all. It is better to be safe than sorry!

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