The Backbone of the Supply Chain Ecosystem.
Our warehouse consultants:
- Work across warehouse design, inventory, operations and location analysis.
- Use actionable data to create evidence-based solutions.
- Can help to reduce waste, improve sustainability, and save money.
To optimise your warehousing and logistics operations…
The importance of warehousing and distribution.
In order for a business to operate effectively, its warehouse needs to be well-run, smart, and efficient. Badly designed warehouses have the potential to cause problems and slowdowns that have a negative ripple effect across the entire supply chain.
A warehouse consultant (also sometimes referred to as a supply chain consultant) can offer considerable value across the lifetime of a warehouse’s operation. Having worked across numerous industries and levels of scale, they bring a wide and varied experience to supply chain projects.
They will have seen what works, what doesn’t, and what best practices could be transferred into your business. They’ll use this experience to assist with efficient fulfilment of customer orders, reducing time and cost where possible.
Not only that, but with experience stretching across all disciplines, a warehouse consultant will carefully consider all supply chain elements; ensuring that none would be adversely affected by any changes.
Consultants add value
Warehouse consultants can assess adding value in the following areas of your business:
- Warehouse planning, design, installation and management,
- Operational analysis & material flow,
- Staffing and shift scheduling,
- Facilities requirements,
- Inventory management,
- Storage systems and space optimisation,
- Warehouse site location analysis,
- Logistics and fleet size,
- Warehouse automation,
- Third Party Fulfillment (3PF) and Third Party Logistics (3PL),
- Bids, tenders, and other capacity and operation forecasting.
Working with an external consultant should complement the internal skills of the business, collaboratively taking the company to the next level. Ultimately a consultant will help make that important strategic decision.
Depending on your requirements, supply chain consultants help evaluate decisions with the use of data, both qualitative and quantitative. They can assist with identifying improvement opportunities on projects with a short, medium, or long-term time-frame.
Comparison of solution options should be provided with as much quantifiable information as possible, inclusive of timescales, cost effectiveness, service delivery impacts, and risks, allowing the decision-makers to feel confident in their final choice.
Keeping up with changing Customer Expectations
With customer requirements frequently changing and developing, warehouses are being pushed to evolve to meet these more challenging demands.
Customers understand the value of their data, and that you’re collecting it, and expect it to be used to give them a better service. This is inclusive of every level of customer, be that centralised warehouses for internal stores or retail distribution centres for e-commerce delivery to customer homes.
Most recently, and predominantly, businesses are seeing demand for more frequent deliveries at lower volumes. With trends in; next day/same day delivery, ‘first looks’ at products related to previous purchases, fast returns turnaround, and effortless customer service.
Not only does this put pressure on the warehouse operations to increase their throughput velocity, but requires every element in the chain to adapt accordingly to maintain the flow of products. At times driving activities to work at maximum capacities, pushing each element to its limits, running the risk of total failure.
Supply chain consultants can help analyse your entire operation for bounds on each activity, identifying where the biggest risks to impeding customer expectations lie. Providing an understanding of what actions could be taken to increase the limitations and decrease risk of hampering delivery.
The consulting process should begin with process mapping ‘walks and talks’ and stakeholder interviews, to understand current ability to meet customer demand. At every idea development stage, consultants should be referring to the customer demand, checking for impact and improvement.
Optimised Warehouse Location
The physical positioning of a business’ warehouse can prove very costly over time if not in the optimal location.
This is due to avoidable lengths of logistics if positioned closest to the most frequently delivered-to locations. Be your customers national or global.
A technique coined the ‘Centre of Gravity’ method can be used to find the optimal warehouse location. This can be carried out by a supply chain or warehouse analyst with a background in data analysis, and should take no more than a few days, given the data is already captured.
The tool analyses previous shipment distances and costs to calculate a ‘weight’ for each customer’s location, providing the location that would minimise your shipping costs. This can be used for either single or multiple depot set-ups.
Any information for future custom should be included in informing where best to locate your warehouse to fulfil orders with the minimum shipping costs.
Warehouse Design and Operational Handling Efficiency
Another big cost-saver that consultants are experts in is helping to understand your size and space requirements.
This works in a two-pronged approach, analysing the floor plan layout configuration and efficiency of operational activities in tandem.
Warehouses as an element of the supply chain are inefficient. They stop the flow of material, which accumulates costs – not directly adding to the value of your product or service. Therefore, the aim must be to optimise the flow of product through the warehouse as much as possible, eliminating any bottlenecks within the process.
Analysis should be carried out to reduce waste from both between activities and from the activities themselves. Lean management dictates that there are 8 types of waste to keep on the lookout for: Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over Processing, Over Production, Defects, and Staff. Forming the anagram ‘TIM WOODS’.
Inventory storage tends to be one of the largest space occupiers, and therefore improving inventory management by better aligning procurement to demand is critical to freeing up warehouse space.
Each section of your supply chain should be analysed for its time-in-motion and capacity, informing how many times each process should be replicated to meet customer demand and align with all other activities.
When waste is reduced from activities themselves, productivity is improved, for example, improving the pick speed by allocating pick locations appropriately based on their churn-rate.
If an increase in productivity is achieved, increasing the number of orders processed within a time-frame, then orders potentially get to customers faster, resources required to fulfil each order are reduced, and space requirements are cut. Ultimately resulting in an improvement of both direct and indirect costs to the business.
Planning for Future Requirements
Opportunities to improve productivity come either in the form of incremental changes to the current process, removing non-value-add actions, or in the form of automated solutions, tending to replace manual activity with robotics.
With a detailed understanding of each activity capacity within the warehouse and how it interacts with adjoining activities, an analyst will be able to help you plan for scaling up to meet future business growth. This applies to both processes with constrained capacity (machinery) and unconstrained (manual).
An activity’s capacity constraint is defined by whether it’s easily scalable. Manual processes tend to be considered as non-constrained as demand grows the process can be scaled by simply employing more staff to work through the load, whereas an automated solution such as a pick robot will be constrained by its moves per hour. Exceeding the capacity of a constrained activity would result in the investment of additional machinery, tending to mimic the work of hundreds of human workers, and therefore not being a cheap nor quick solution.
Having a supply chain consultant proactively analyse your growth forecast for future investment decisions, allows you to strategize for solutions in advance of the system coming to a halt. Similar analysis can also prove useful to Material Handling Equipment (MHE) servicing planning and staff facility requirements.
Investing in Warehouse Automation
There are vast variety of automated solutions already available, with the likes of Amazon and Ocado leading the way in showcasing the art of the possible. Examples include: automated storage solutions, pick and pack robots and pallet stacking and wrapping.
The amount of technology available for warehousing has grown exponentially over the last few years, and there’s no signs of technological advancements slowing down any time soon, with development of self-driving lorries, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (MI) advancements strengthening every day.
The key is knowing which solution is likely to give the greatest return on investment, and how long it will take to reap the benefits.
Each possible solution should be carefully deliberated for and quantifiably tested for a range of scenarios, before the business decides to invest. Scenario modelling and Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) techniques can be critical to compiling a list of recommendations designed specifically to help the business key stakeholders decide which automated investment will give them the best returns.
For all elements of your warehouse and supply chain to work collaboratively, selecting and launching a warehouse management system is critical to efficiently processing orders.
Warehouse management systems are key to aligning communication between procurement, automated storage systems, operations, and sales.
Warehouse and Supply Chain Data Consulting
At Trym Consulting, we’ve worked hard to accumulate years of experience across a multitude of industries to help with every element within warehouse consulting. Combining rigour and pragmatism to deliver a result that you have complete confidence in, both conceptually and in the delivery stages.
We make sure to align with you closely through every step of the journey, so that, as your thinking develops, our direction remains entirely relevant to the business needs. Warehouse improvement requires a collaborative approach, where you, as the client, define the work, and we customise solutions specific to your requirements.
We are advocates for taking ideas from other industries, and have worked with several healthcare and pharmaceutical businesses, engineering and maintenance facilities, fashion and e-commerce platforms, and more. As well as start-ups to multi-channel long-running businesses. We carefully and thoroughly consider all of what we’ve seen work elsewhere to help design new ideas for improvement.
If you would like to talk more about warehouse consulting (or anything else supply chain) please get in touch.