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Industry chief declares need for warehouse flexibility

There are several reasons why warehouses need to be flexible. In a recent article in SupplyChainBrain, Andy Williams, an executive vice president of a warehouse automation equipment company, outlined the main drivers of the need for warehouse flexibility.

These drivers include a wider product range, fast product life cycles, social media trends, and seasonal demand variations. Williams emphasizes that a competent warehouse needs to have a fast response to fluctuations in demand.

A warehouse can recruit temporary staff during high demand periods, though a shortage of labour can make this difficult. The warehouse can also work closely with a warehouse equipment manufacturer to develop more efficient manual handling and storage equipment. For instance, new storage racks can be adapted to occupy more vertical space.

For more complex warehouse operations, automated technologies need to be carefully considered and integrated with existing equipment. For example, sensors can be mounted on picking trolleys to guide operators to exact item locations, and warehouse management systems can plan optimal picking routes that save time. Inventory management systems can monitor stock levels and order items in response to expected demand, although when there is less volume, more frequent restocking can save space.

Williams stresses that flexibility is not a matter of one size fits all. In his opinion, creating a nimble and adaptable warehouse operation that is ready to meet current and future challenges is of high importance, rather than simply buying the latest warehouse automation technology. Individual warehouses need to find unique ways to be flexible to deal with fluctuating business levels.

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