The logistics industry has been going through a transition phase since the past few years with the advent of emerging technologies. Trying to cope with the technological advancements happening in this sector, companies are transforming themselves digitally. Along with the implementation of automation, AI, BlockChain etc. in each part of a supply chain, transparency and virtual visibility have also become important aspects for warehouses and cargo transport.
Warehousing being the backbone of the logistics industry is referred to as the nerve centre of the supply chain. With the implementation of GST along with the Infrastructure status tag of the logistics industry, the need and necessity for better and larger warehouse has increased and is expected to move in an upward trend in the upcoming years.
“Warehouses are the vital pillars of the supply chain for any company that relies on the distribution of a product from factories to shops. Companies might own or lease spaces, but all of them need well-oiled warehouses to keep their supply chain smooth,”
Sandeep Chadha, Founder and CEO, Warehouster Capital Advisors & expert in constructing Grade A warehousing facility said.
Larger warehouses, specifically termed as Grade A warehouses, are able to leverage cutting edge infrastructure comprising assembly lines, automated sorters, pick/put to light systems, dimension weight scanning, and automated packaging. It substantially reduces the overall turnaround time.
What constitutes a Grade A warehouse?
Grade A warehouses are specially planned and designed for providing better quality for storing. These are constructed with extra height (13 meters) and enhanced floor load (5 ton/sq meters). Having superior infrastructure with access to mechanized MHEs, fire detection, clean environment, Grade A warehouses can provide enough space for parking and heavy vehicles.
Automation in warehouses, to keep in step with digitalisation, is a crucial tread towards technological advancements. This is possible only in larger warehouses. With the rising demand of Grade A warehouses in India, automation in the warehousing sector is standing at a threshold point.
Warehouse Management System
Management of warehouses is necessary and it can be chaotic in case of a large warehouse if not managed properly. A warehouse management system (WMS) supports and optimizes warehouse functionality and also aids in distribution centre management. When the inventory and workload are larger, WMS can be used to locate and track the goods providing inventory visibility.
Warehouse management system software aids the management in daily planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling the utilization of available inventory, to move and store materials into, within and out of a warehouse. Besides, the software helps in improving the performance of material movement and storage in and around a warehouse.
Talking about inventory visibility and management with WMS, Sandeep Chadha, stated, “Third-party logistics companies such as DB Schenker, DHL, Kuehne Nagel, Toll Logistics, Stellar, FSC and Mahindra Logistics have invested in warehouse management systems and transport management systems that provide visibility of goods shipped and its lifecycle, from FMCG companies to distributors. The use of fleet management software (provides live tracking of goods), RFID systems for inventory identification and automated pallet storage is growing quickly, as is the number of start-ups aimed at bridging the technology gap.”
Inventory Visibility in Warehouses: Need of the Hour
Inventory visibility simply means the tracking of the products at different warehouses and at different locations. For the warehouses to be managed properly, inventory visibility is a great tool to be coupled.
In the supply chain, inventory is stored in many places. The places include the warehouses, shipment trucks, the store shelves etc. For a successful operation, inventory visibility at each stage of a supply chain is essential.
Having a better view of the product inventory in the warehouse enables us to make decisions in the right direction. With the growing complexity of the supply chain network, inventory visibility with better accuracy is dispensable.
Inventory visibility in warehouses not only provides optimal operation but also a cost-saving opportunity. As many operations have shifted to omnichannel order fulfilment and distribution model, more accurate knowledge of inventory is becoming necessary with time.
Benefits of Inventory Visibility
- Improve Overall Efficiencies
- Appropriate Inventory Levels
- Smarter Allocation of Resources
- Increase Market Responsiveness
- Resolve Unpredictable Scenarios
- Improve Customer Relationships
Challenges for adopting Inventory Visibility Solutions
- Unwillingness to overhaul of the existing process as an implementation of inventory visibility solution is an unnerving one.
- Trust in outsourcing inventory management to a third party
- Data security is a major concern as cloud networks are prone to hacking
Evolution of Warehouses with Technology
The development of India’s logistics and infrastructure had been idle for many decades until 2017. Post the implementation of GST and receiving the Infrastructure status, the industry has seen the face of renovation.
With the development of infrastructure and various transport means, warehouses have evolved as well in the post-GST timeline. The warehouses are getting larger and are paving the way for automation.
Grade A warehouses, being larger and better, provide ample opportunities for the implementation of technologies. Along with automation and AI, they also provide scope for real-time tracking of goods in warehouses which is becoming crucial for efficient warehouse operations.
Inventory visibility in warehouses can be achieved through the implementation of barcodes, radio frequency identification (RFID), or similar inventory tracking system. These systems can provide accurate inventory visibility to track the goods in the warehouses, thus enabling better management of inventory.
Inventory visibility in warehouses enables us to keep track of the products available and transported. Providing better inventory management through virtual visibility of goods, inventory visibility helps in overcoming the problems of stockouts, overstocks and unaccounted shrinkage.
Image: Courtesy of African Logistics Properties
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