Supply chain disruptions have been the order of the day for the past several years, with the COVID-19 pandemic, bottlenecks in the Suez Canal and the struggle to find qualified people to perform tasks of all types wreaking havoc on the channel from the first mile through the last mile. 

Warehouses play a critical role throughout the channel. Following are five strategies to accelerate the initial return on warehouse investment, and augment the ongoing ROI of these increasingly crucial spaces.

 Keep the initial effort, duration, and costs down for faster time-to-benefit and ROI. Moving products from Point A to Point B in the most efficient way possible is key to keeping costs down. Part of that comes from ensuring the global warehouse network is prepared for just about anything.

“Warehouses should seek out a templated solution that aligns 90% with their business workflows and requirements,” says Martin Hespeler, vice president, Americas, at Microlistics, an intelligence and software company based in Melbourne, Australia. He explains that companies should look for an out-of-the-box warehouse management system (WMS) that aligns with business needs. That way, they can avoid expensive and time-consuming customizations that are needed to support the business, third-party logistics company, distribution center or retailer. 

State-of-the-art software tools are constructed to be modular, offering immediate, additional functionality. These plug-in modules can be selected to support a specific company’s business model. As a result, it’s easy for a distribution center or warehouse facility to augment its current investment quickly, efficiently and cost effectively, and allow for adjustments as business changes.

 Continue to optimize operations to deliver greater returns over time. After investing in a massive overhaul, businesses must not allow operations to stagnate, if they want to keep warehouses on the cutting edge. 

The goal when laying the foundation of a WMS is to position the system to be able to grow with the business. “That way, you will be prepared,” Hespeler says, “whether you configure the foundational software in a manner that will support a change in customer dynamics, or to provide support when the business itself is changing — where you’re going to be doing things like invoicing for services that you’ve never done before.” 

Requirements in regard to visibility into on-site inventory, and adjustments to labor management due to overhead costs and the current labor market, are all factors to consider while making an investment in WMS.

 Use savings from efficiencies and expanded business revenue to fund continued improvement. Logistics providers can’t just sit on the profits they’ll realize from making their operations more efficient.

When a company works with a vendor whose software is largely out-of-the-box and in alignment with the business, that means that the complete implementation process — from initial investment to the time when it sees benefit from that investment — is much shorter. Costs may be higher than the benefits at the outset of a project, but as the project proceeds, there’s a crossover. Greater benefits and efficiencies increase, while costs remain stable, and the benefit curve increases quickly.

“So,” Hespeler says, “you now have monies and revenues dropping to the bottom line that you didn’t have at the beginning of the project. Those dollars can be repurposed into upgraded order-management systems, a modernized labor module or other efficiencies across the organization.” Those upgrades will deliver additional profits that can then be refunneled into further refinements and enhancements, to constantly evolve and improve warehousing. 

 Future-proof warehouses to adapt to disruptions and innovations. Depending on perspective, changes from the norm can either come in the form of disruptions or innovations. How to prepare for those changes and the willingness to embrace them can determine a business’s long-term success.

“If you’re positioned properly, a global supply chain issue could actually work to your benefit, because you may be in a prime position to support the shortfall of inventory,” says Hespeler. “Nobody can foresee every single one of the disruptions that’s going to happen. You can’t plan on COVID-19, or the labor shortage, or truckers going on strike in Newport Beach, and you can’t plan on Hurricane Irene in Florida or a blizzard or other Mother Nature events. So you just do the best you can to try to forecast what you’re going to need and grow your business.”

 Look to cloud-based WMS applications for reduced up-front costs, scalability and flexibility. The shift of logistics companies, both large and small, to cloud-based WMS operations has been one of the biggest and most important recent changes in the supply chain space. A cloud-based approach eliminates the requirement of having a data center on the premises, as well as servers and technical staff to maintain them, and instead lets logistics providers focus on providing great logistics services. 

Microlistics Enables Streamlined Logistics Solutions in a Variety of Sectors

For almost 30 years, Microlistics has been at the forefront of the logistics space, boasting expertise in third-party logistics (3PL), omnichannel retail, cold storage, food and beverage, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), fashion and apparel, manufacturing and industrial, and pharmaceutical industries.

Microlistics handles the logistics needs for companies ranging from mid-sized to multi-billion-dollar global enterprises. The company offers myriad services, ranging from material-handling equipment to vision picking, voice picking, robotics and beyond, across North, South and Latin America; the United Kingdom, and Benelux. Microlistics plans to expand into India and make more inroads across Southeast Asia. This growing customer base is supported by an expanding network of Microlistics service partners. 

To learn more about these and other strategies, download our latest ebook.

Resource Link: