Warehousing has undergone resurgence since e-commerce has boomed. Not so long ago, warehouses were frequently languishing part filled, or even empty. Now, warehouses are frequently full to bursting, and it’s difficult to know what to do with a warehouse which doesn’t quite seem fit for purpose any more.
If your warehouse isn’t fit for purpose, or you think it could run more efficiently, give us a call on 0121 517 0008 and our consultants can give you tailored advice. We can help you identify the best course of action for your business.
In the meantime, let’s look at some of the most common issues with an ageing warehouse, and what your decision options are.
Building or leasing a new warehouse
Sometimes it makes most sense to start again, building or leasing a fit-for-purpose warehouse with all technological advances implemented. It’s certainly the ‘easiest’ way of meeting the unique needs of an individual business, and not attempting to wedge on a shoe which doesn’t quite fit.
However, there’s no escaping that this is an expensive option and as such requires very careful cost-benefit analysis before being embarked upon. Ascertaining if this is a sensible option requires a thorough and diligent assessment of your current and future needs and success. You’ll also need to consider if the land exists where you want it, or whether you would do better to work with others towards a shared solution. If you want to consider the latter, read our article Logistics Outsourcing – 5 Reasons to Partner with a 3PL
Revamping current space
Usually, the most sensible option is to work with the warehouse space you’ve got to improve its efficiency and create new solutions within it. Looking at anticipated future and current capacity requirements, it is often possible to create the space you need within existing warehouse capabilities either by reorganising space or implementing technology.
We frequently find that the most efficient way of doing this is by introducing the right technology which can transform warehousing operations. By choosing or developing the right technology, you can increase productivity and efficiency, without struggling through lack of space. Technology can enable you to use the space in a more appropriate way.
Technological change is an area where organisations can end up tying themselves up in knots. It’s not a case of simply implementing something, but being sure that you’re implementing the right technology for your unique needs. Your warehouse management system (WMS) needs to be fit for your purpose, so that it streamlines things and doesn’t make it more convoluted or complicated. Technology should reduce errors and increase efficiency.
The digital transformation of the warehouse is a notable area for gaining a competitive advantage. Whilst there is a great deal of talk regarding technology and automation, uptake is still fairly incomplete. If you adopt digital changes to assist your ageing warehouse, then you could well streak ahead of your competitors.
Think about your location
Warehousing costs are, of course, linked very closely to real estate costs. Depending on where you are in the country (or world) your warehouse space will cost vastly different amounts. With the rise in just in time deliveries, warehouse space in urban areas is becoming increasingly sought after, pushing up its price.
Therefore, if you already have the warehouse land where you actually want it, it may well make sense to stay put and work with what you’ve got. If you’re in the wrong location, then that may be the single biggest reason to move (read Warehouse Location – How Do You Decide Where to Locate a Warehouse.). Being nearby to suppliers and customer is often desired. In the UK, this means that warehousing around London and Birmingham is particularly valuable. In these instances, you may do better to work with the space you’ve got in the ageing warehouse, rather than jump ship altogether.
It may also be possible to consider expansion to the existing ageing warehouse to make it more fit for purpose. Expansion, along with the introduction of appropriate technology and automation can prove to be a cost-effective solution to the ageing warehouse problem. This is likely going to be true if you own your warehouse space or the land on which it sits. Care needs to be taken to expand in the most appropriate way.
The importance of space planning
With all of the different options, it is vital to have experts undertake the warehouse space planning so that you can ascertain what is truly needed both now and in the future, but also so that you know what is possible to achieve, how, and how much this costs and can be implemented. It is crucial to invest time and resources at the planning stage to prevent cumbersome additions or changes which further complicate an ageing warehouse system.
This is frequently already evident in ageing warehouses. Systems, often paper-based, are convoluted and complicated, borne from a piecemeal approach as warehouse needs have changed over time. This needs to be overhauled to make the most appropriate and cost-effective decisions for the future.
Continuing to make changes which add to the piecemeal nature of warehouses simply increases the chance of obstructions, mistakes, accidents and injuries.
Questioning the suitability of an ageing warehouse, and facing the possible solutions and changes, can be daunting. However, with the right expertise on board, it should be a time for excitement about future possibility.
A consultancy such as Paul Trudgian will ensure you maximise your warehouse efficiency and utilise the best WMS for you. We will enable you to identify solutions which are cost-effective and utilise technology and automation to your best advantage. This investment will bring rewards in terms of visibility, control, productivity, efficiency and customer service.
Get in touch today on 0121 517 0008 to discuss your warehousing needs.