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WAREHOUSING, HANDLING & STORAGE


it is a question of seeking out surplus space that can, with some thought, be adapted for the purpose. The company has, for example, worked with a multinational to temperature-control a large automated general merchandise warehouse by installing suitable chiller equipment and ducting. With another, in the confectionery business, it conducted a full site audit and implemented temperature measurement and monitoring systems at locations throughout the warehouse. The British Retail Confederation (BRC) standard is a common certification for food industry warehousing – Bis Henderson Space works with its customers’ internal or external auditors to bring facilities up to the equivalent of the BRC badge, addressing issues such as the fabric of the building, pest control, or the capabilities of supplier systems to support FIFO, batch control. In the current market Bis Henderson Space,


and its clients, have to accept that the ideal solution simply may not be available. Occasionally, the company has to advise its clients to bite the bullet and pay a competent 3PL for its services. Sometimes, its advice on addressing problems around ‘peaks’, or around very high outbound throughput requirements, may be to revisit the production cycle, or the operational procedures in the warehouse. More often, though, it can work with its clients and its space providers to find workable solutions. Of course, there are aspects of food industry


logistics where ‘compromise’ just is not an option, but often Bis Henderson Space can devise a solution that is perfectly viable over the duration of the requirement. Its advice, though, in such a tight market, is to move early to secure the space needed, and be prepared to have sensible commercial discussions with space providers. The requirement may well be short-term and tactical, but if companies talk to Bis Henderson Space early about their requirements, it is in a much stronger position to help create a strategy tailored to your needs.


Bis henderson Space www.bis-hendersonspace.com


By Alex Mills, sales and marketing director at ProSKU


like the dark side, something that only much larger companies need. But is that true and, whether it is or not, at what point in your business growth do the advantages of a systematic approach to managing your stock start to deliver tangible benefits? The chances are it will be sooner than you think. If you are selling a small and finite number


F


of items, you might not need a dedicated stock management solution. You buy what you need, when you need it, and send it to the customer when it is ordered. Perhaps you can remember all the information you need in your head. If not, you can probably use a few pieces of paper or a basic spreadsheet. But things get complicated as soon as the


amount of stock begins to grow. Psychologists have known for some time that we humans can only retain six or seven pieces of information in our short-term memory. We can, of course, remember far more in our long-term memory. Most of us struggle with those party games where we try to match pairs of cards that are face down on the table and only fleetingly revealed. Few of us ever master the tricks of the memory specialists seen on TV “magic” shows or the seemingly unending trivial knowledge of quiz champions. In practice, we pass information we want to retain – either consciously or unconsciously – from our short term to long term memory but that is not an ideal way of running a core business function. Some form of “memory aid” would be quite useful. It is inevitable that your stock management


requirements will become more complex as your business grows. What if those few items you are selling become ten, twenty, or a hundred? If you are selling items that are manufactured, require some form of adaptation, or are bought in bulk, you are much more likely to need to keep track of your stock. Where did it come from, how many do we have, where is it now, is it ready to sell, who has ordered it? Things like that. Suddenly, and without you doing very much, that is quite a lot of information to remember. Some form of “memory aid” will be quite useful. In other words, some form of stock management system. There are other reasons why stock


management can become complex. If you stock a lot of identical items, it might not be too important to identify each one at an individual level. But if you need to rotate stock so that the oldest items are sold first or if you need to ensure traceability through the supply chain then you will need to know and manage more about an item


than its basic identity. Every time you add a new piece of information related to any specific item you increase the complexity. Statisticians call this the dimensionality of data. On a simplistic level the dimensionality is the number of different attributes associated with a set of data. But this can change and is rarely static. Some of your data will be fixed (its identity, for example), some will change as an item moves through the supply chain (its location, for example), while some will change depending on other factors (such as an item’s position in a picking queue or the customer’s name once it is sold). Sooner or later (by which we mean sooner) you will need help to store, identify, process, and manage that information. In other words, some form of stock management system. This is where a proper warehouse


management system comes in. It will be a “memory aid”, overseeing essential day-to-day stock management tasks and providing structured, consistent and accurate data. The system should be able to interface with your ecommerce applications to provide the stock information you need to sell items, link to carrier management systems to deliver items cost- effectively, and interface with back-office applications that can provide insights into efficiencies and cost savings to help with business development. For many businesses, the most suitable


solution will be a cloud-hosted, software-as-a- service solution. Solutions such as ProSKU are adaptable to current needs, scalable for business growth, easier and faster to deploy than traditional systems, available with simple and predictable pricing models, and future-proofed by ongoing developer upgrades.


www.prosku.com


or many smaller and growing ecommerce businesses the world of warehouse management might seem


ReMoving CoMPlexity fRoM the WARehoUSe


FACTORY&HANDLINGSOLUTIONS | JUNE 2021 19


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