Retrofit high-bay warehouse at FrieslandCampina

5 Simple Rules for Your Perfect Intralogistics

It’s not uncommon that the biggest challenges businesses face are also promising growth opportunities.

Rule 1. Any plan is better than no plan

Know your numbers

It’s not a rare case when a customer looking for automation and expansion is not yet aware of the starting point. Any change should have a measurable goal in storage and shipping volumes, material handling speed, a picking error percentage reduction, etc.

Warehouse modernization always starts with checking the current key data, analyzing warehouse processes and considering the future growth of both, the business sector and the company. These simple steps are essential for forming future material handling performance goals for your logistics centre.

Rule 2. Treat your logistics employees as your greatest asset

Learn to trust and delegate

The more you grow, the more it is obvious that you cannot keep doing everything yourself, micro-managing every little task. Instead, invest in hiring qualified warehouse process analytics. External providers, suppliers and consultants are a great help but they still have to be managed and their decision need to be evaluated and approved. Here comes the qualified warehousing and logistics team on your side. Afterall, it takes an expert to check the work of another expert.

Rule 3. Nothing is new here

Don't reinvent the wheel

Conferences’ titles promise to present you with new and innovative warehousing solutions. They swear your intralogistics will rise to another unimaginable previously level of productivity. However, the content you get is useful but never astonishing, is not that right?

The selection of solutions and equipment for logistics centres available on the market is far from being new. Most of the range has already been out there for 10 or 20 years: tested, implemented and proved to serve well. Suppliers do not win over a customer by a breakthrough and mind-blowing offer.  They bet on quality, prompt reply and transparent communication, customer service and flexibility.

A little tip: Great process design comes from picking the best parts from a few similar solutions for internal logistics and linking them together. The artwork is simple: copy, analyze, improve, paste.

Rule 4. Agility makes sense. Now more than ever.

You’ve changed, why your business shouldn’t?

Everything your distribution centre is equipped with has one job: move an item from point A to point B. The other question is that there is a set of decisions that need to be made during the journey by the “brain of the system”. WMS is fulfilling this role following the certain logic that has been established.

However, in today’s reality, nothing stays the same for a long time. The business community is changing the same as consumers, their earnings, needs and priorities. In the same way, there has to be some room for WMS to adapt to these changes.

Rule 5. No time to waste

Quality at the first attempt

One of the most expensive and, at the same time, less satisfying activities is fixing mistakes. With the high level of competition in almost every sector, customers’ loyalty is what distinguishes one business from another.

What is a perfect material handling process? One after another every stage of the internal logistics operations is defined, divided into smaller parts and secured from errors. In healthy process design, there may be an overlap where the following stages are taking over the results from the previous ones. This tighter link can help your DC’s employees to double-check the input data and therefore to reduce the chance of a mistake.

A brief summary for the busy ones

Everything that has even the slightest influence on your business cannot be overlooked no matter how insignificant it may seem. It does not have to be planned by you but keep an eye on it. Especially when it comes to internal logistics. The world is rapidly changing,  and so should your warehouse. There are a few areas to regularly check that will allow your business to be agile and flexible in adopting new trends and maintaining high efficiency.

  • You should know your current state to be able to grow: finance, sales, operational performance, employee retention rate etc.

  • Invest in qualified warehouse staff, delegate and stop micro-managing.

  • Don't reinvent the wheel. There are plenty of great ideas on the market. Research, analyse, adjust, and apply them to your warehousing processes.

  • Build some room for future system expansion and changes into your WMS and logistics centre’s layout.

  • It is not okay to have some issues in material handling “for now” to be fixed later. Aim at a quality on the first attempt.

These are just the core concepts applying to any action, decision or change. Turn your challenges into opportunities!