8 secrets behind a successful warehousing fulfilment operation
11 minutes to read
Efficient warehousing fulfilment is down to organisation, preparation and performance. The absence of just one of these elements will mean that the chances of success are slim and problems will occur – so you need to be sure that your chosen logistics partner is covering all bases.
But what are the elements of a successful warehousing fulfilment operation – and how can you know what ‘red flags’ to avoid? This article will showcase our tried and tested approach to successful warehousing operations, serving as a tick list of what to consider when choosing your next logistics partner.
Why a successful warehousing fulfilment operation matters
Businesses rely on a slick and seamless service to ensure their operation remains as efficient as possible, and after 30+ years of experience in the industry, we’ve carefully crafted the perfect warehousing operations strategy, along with all the components required to keep things running as they should. It’s how we ensure optimum efficiency for our customers, even in challenging times.
We know that inefficient warehousing processes can cause irreparable damage to client relationships, which is why, here at Hemisphere, we take great pride in the quality of service we provide to our clients, along with the expertise we offer in each element of warehousing fulfilment.
Secret 1: Investing in solid foundations
Before attending to anything else, you must make sure your foundations are solid. Any warehousing facility needs to be fit for purpose – set up to be an efficient, effective, safe, and secure hub for storage, inventory management, picking, packing, loading and transportation.
Optimal use of space
A modern warehouse will make the most of every cubic inch of space in the building. For example, our new warehouse facility has racking up to nine levels high to ensure as little dead space as possible. Any successful warehouse will need to have the right specialist handling and picking equipment – and enough operatives to use it during busy times.
Smooth loading and unloading
Our building’s delivery entrances incorporate dock levellers to allow for smooth, efficient loading and unloading for trucks and containers, while also protecting your goods from the elements. Inside, the warehouse has mezzanine floors for handling additional services such as kitting, labelling, packaging and quality control in a safe area away from the hustle and bustle of the main areas of operations.
Standards need to be high to ensure customer needs are met, and as such it’s worth making sure your chosen warehouse is accredited by the appropriate bodies to show efficiency and quality. At Hemisphere, we are accredited by the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA), the Road Haulage Association (RHA), AEO, ISO9001, and TAPA. We have also been working on building up our accreditations within the Food and Organic products sector, and have the SOIL and BRCS accreditations.
Safety and security
Finally, the safety and security of your chosen warehousing facility will be paramount. All goods and staff need to be protected from any unfortunate incidents or outside interference by manned or access controlled entrances, high-quality boundaries and 24-hour surveillance. Also, it’s critical to have a robust health and safety regime on the premises and strict processes for handling potentially hazardous or dangerous goods (with the authorisation to do so).
Hemisphere’s historical new warehouse – coming in 2024
In order to ensure that we’re always operating out of the best possible warehousing facilities, we’ve expanded on our existing space to offer our clients a better service than ever before, thanks to our brand-new, custom-built warehouse opening in 2024.
Located at Suffolk’s state-of-the-art Port One development, this port-centric site is East Anglia’s first ever carbon neutral logistics park, and will help to solve the need for more efficient warehousing space nationally in a highly competitive industry.
Our new facility will provide 34,750 racked pallet locations, which stack nine levels high, and an additional 8000 bulk loaded pallets on floors and mezzanines. The site will also provide eight dock levellers, three of which are suitable for double decker trailers, and two 7.5 tonne hydraulic lifts for cargo and people.
Secret 2: Effective inventory management
Knowing your stock levels inside and out will maximise the chances of ensuring profitability, reducing stock-outs so orders can be fulfilled, while also being able to monitor that cash isn’t tied up in unsold items.
Effective inventory management is crucial to any business with warehousing needs, yet many leave it to the last minute, perhaps undertaking sporadic stock takes or deprioritising inventory. This can cause issues during peak periods, during times of staff turnover, or when customers require higher volumes of stock at short notice.
To manage inventory effectively, it is important to review current processes and ways to improve these such as:
- Implementing a prioritisation system for high ticket items, down to low cost stock
- Having a real-time, electronic inventory of all product information relating to stock such as SKU, Lot Numbers, Supplier and Expiry dates (if applicable)
- Having accurate sales forecasts will also be invaluable in ensuring inventory levels are effective
Secret 3: Using the best warehouse management system (WMS)
When it comes to the ‘best’ warehouse management system, it depends on your preferences and needs – we’ve learnt which system works best for us and it might not be the same one for everyone. Saying that however, there are specific features of a WMS that make having a successful warehousing fulfilment operation easier for everyone involved and this is what you should look out for:
- Easy integration with other software – to take advantage of new advances in technology, such as automation, it’s more important than ever that your WMS has the capability to integrate with other systems, starting with your ERP system as well as your online stores/ecommerce sites.
- Efficient processes and task interleaving – to maximise the number of orders and speed of orders that can be processed.
- Reporting and analytics data – understanding the efficiencies of your warehouse and its overall performance will ensure you maintain high productivity and, in turn, profitability. Gaining insight into any issues early on through effective data reporting allows for effective issue resolution and performance monitoring. Choosing a WMS that provides regular analytics is a must.
Secret 4: Investing in your team
They say you’re only as strong as your weakest player and we live by this philosophy at Hemisphere. Investing in the right people, regardless of your industry, is necessary to keep the flow of a business moving. That doesn’t just mean recruiting the right people – it’s also important to focus on rigorous training and processes for those working within the warehousing environment.
A well-trained workforce that is working as a team creates a well-oiled machine that keeps customers happy. With so many advances and new technologies that occur within the warehousing industry, it’s crucial to keep your team trained to the highest standard.
Whether it’s investing in external courses or regular training updates within the business, making sure your teams are equipped to do their jobs with the right knowledge and motivation, is an often overlooked factor to creating a successful warehousing fulfilment operation. With the right investment, you create a workforce that you can continue to grow, rather than being stuck in a cycle of replacing team members. At Hemisphere, we’re proud to have a growing team of over 170 people – all with the industry experience and expertise that you’d expect, plus the passion, care and attention to detail that sets us apart.
Secret 5: Continuous improvement and streamlining operations
Evolution is the key to success, so knowing where any leaks or inefficiencies lie in your warehouse operation is vital. Related to lean manufacturing, Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is one strategy to help identify improvements, and by working alongside warehouse management systems, it will show where issues are arising and could cause problems further down the line. At Hemisphere, our continuous improvement efforts will help you to:
- Reduce wastage
- Optimise customer production flow
- Detect inefficient process flows
Continuous improvements should also come from your team and staff, over and above what the data is saying. It’s easy to continue in ways of working that have become comfortable, but listening and engaging with those who are on the floor day-to-day can lead to ways of improving operations, increasing efficiencies and streamlining processes.
Secret 6: Effective communication and collaboration
Communication sits at the heart of any successful business. Working together – and ensuring you are all working towards the same goals – drives success between us as a team, and also between us and our customers.
As you’ll know yourself, there are some very sector-specific challenges that apply to communications across teams within warehousing and logistics, for example:
- The size of warehouses – these are often huge spaces that make it impossible to effectively communicate without the appropriate technology to hand
- The noise and disruption – as well as voices, the constant hum of machinery and equipment creates an environment where verbal communication is difficult
What are the solutions?
There are many devices that make communication easier within logistics. Gone are the days of static computers – to communicate effectively, your chosen warehouse needs handheld devices to help make communicating instructions between teams clearer and more concise, without the need to move around the warehouse, wasting time, energy and resources.
Whether it’s communication between operatives and managers, stock controllers or office-based staff, it’s never been easier to collaborate internally, despite there being 1000s of square feet between people.
Secret 7: Utilising automation and modern machinery
Advances in technology are taking the world by storm, offering exciting possibilities to help all businesses create greater accessibility and efficiency.
But how does this help warehousing?
- Picking: Technology solutions that assist with picking are now available – whether to generate lists or assign work-to instructions to operatives – bringing a strategic approach to everyday tasks.
- Packing: We know robotics have come a long way. Robotic packaging systems can offer greater reliability and robotic pallet wrapping machines improve the speed and quality. These all allow operatives to focus on other responsibilities.
- Labelling: Documentation and labelling is traditionally a time-consuming task. However, advances in technology have the potential to make this process far smoother and less prone to error. For example, automation technology can now scan and generate documentation, including labels, which are inserted into packages before they are sealed and shipped.
- Locating: Robotic assistance is not limited only to packaging and lists. Automated or semi-automated vehicles or machinery can now safely transport warehouse operatives to the right pick locations they need by the most efficient route, ensuring consignments are put together faster and more efficiently than ever before.
Stay at the forefront of all the latest goings-on in the world of logistics by visiting our Knowledge Hub.
Secret 8: Meeting customer demands
When it comes to successful warehousing fulfilment, the end goal is to ensure a seamless and strategic process that delivers for your customers. We focus on a customer-centric approach that we know helps us to make the right decision for our processes, team and technology.
Complaints, lost orders, wrong orders or just poor service will damage reputation as well as risk customer loyalty. Knowing the possible flaws in the customer journey allows your business to use the right software, change unreliable processes and trust your team to help evolve and meet demands.
How we fulfil customer demands:
Full visibility at every step: From the orders coming in, to the trucks leaving the warehouse, our systems provide full visibility on the order volumes, the stock levels, the labelling and the despatch details. This is essential to boost client confidence, so there’s no nasty surprises when the order arrives.
Data and reporting: We’ve previously discussed data within the realms of WMS, but we know that providing this information upon request for clients will provide clarity and in turn, secure trust in your services.
Communication: We’ve been in the industry long enough to know that nothing is flawless 100% of the time, so communicating with customers to meet their demands, even when things have gone awry, is vital. Rectifying mistakes is easier when the client knows what’s happening.
Delivering the product when it is required and in perfect condition: This is the bottom line we operate by. Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you’re going to do it, in a way that respects the customer’s consignments, their clients and their business.
How Hemisphere can help with your warehousing needs
From property management and resource planning, to stock control, care and management – running a successful warehousing fulfilment operation is a challenging job, one that requires constant attention and expertise to ensure that it runs smoothly and efficiently.
At Hemisphere, we enable businesses to grow by removing the headache of warehousing and logistics management, along with the financial burdens that come alongside this. Offering a complete warehousing solution, as well as Customs Clearance, Export Packing Services & Case Making and transportation by road, air or ocean: we offer clients a total logistics management service.
Get in touch with us today to learn more and find a bespoke solution that delivers what you need.