Warehousing has long been perceived as a concept that exists within the confines of a particular location (ie: a warehouse or distribution center). Theoretically, this might be true. However, modern day warehouse logistics is influenced by a variety of factor – hence, making the operations of a warehouse transcend beyond the confines of the facility itself.
For instance, a distribution center can be seen as a complex blend of man power and technology (ie: materials handling equipment, pallets, sortation systems, conveyors and racking infrastructure). Often overlooked, however, is the connectivity that exits between other warehousing facilities, manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and the end users. In essence, a warehouse is but a single piece to a much larger chain of distribution. Effective supply chain strategy and logistics technology are merged into a functional system to form a more cohesive and responsive network for the warehouse.
Warehousing logistics for the 21st century
In today’s warehousing business, it is evident that for a storage facility or distribution center to be successful, it needs to have a system that has evolved in a manner whereby there is seamlessness in the interactions between its technology (ie: automation) and its workforce (ie: manpower). Its system ought to be able to sense any changes in demand and supply; it should be able to absorb variability, and balance inventory and capacity in a manner that is efficient and economical. This is the modern day reality of warehouse logistics.
While technology has given rise to greater flexibility in how warehouse managers handle time-to-demand requirements, hidden efficiencies have also been uncovered in areas such as materials handling, distribution network strategy, warehouse processes, and overall infrastructure design.
If the complexities of technology and warehousing strategies are broken down, the concept of warehouse management is reduced to the basics of mere moving of inventory from one point to another. The utilization of proper logistical procedures can have an apparent impact on the costs involved in running a warehouse. Its effect would also reflect on the flow of inventory, and product integrity. The logistical aspect of warehousing continues to redefine itself to align with growing demands in e-commerce, and business process sophistication – thus expanding the warehousing concept.