Warehousing – a simple word which has been in the industry use for last so many decades. Business Owners every often refer to this term in their day-to-day conversations, this is a topic of discussion in the boardrooms and is a prime topic for building a sleek and mean SCM.
In the last more than 2 decades of interaction with various companies in the Supply Chain, Manufacturing, 3PL, or Logistics companies, there are certain basic questions and confusions that I have come across which I would like to address through this blog of ours.
The manufacturing organizations within their manufacturing unit will have storage locations called Stores or Yards (if they are storing sections & shapes or pipes and the like). They are often addressed as Raw Material Stores, Consumables Stores, etc as actually, they are not “warehouses”.
In this blog, we will talk only about the elements of the warehouse, the types/kinds of warehouses, and the concept of Barcoding.
- One or more docking station(s) – this is a raised platform (usually) where the trucks are docked for loading or unloading.
- Zoning – The warehouse shall be divided into zones which could be Item category-specific or client specific.
- Location Marking – Locations shall be defined for every storage location and would be marked. It can be bulk storage or G+2 onwards racking. (Bulk storage is on the floor and no vertical stacking is done)
- Gangway – There shall be a wide enough gangway for the movement of hand trolleys or forklifts etc.
- FIFO Enabled – The racking/storing shall be such which facilitates Item Put – Pick from both sides of the storage location.
As I look at the various clients that we have, I can categorize the warehousing types/kinds as under:
- Warehouses which handle multiple brands – typically 3PL companies
In this case, the entire warehouse is physically divided into multiple zones which are customer specific. Every zone can have a different racking structure or storage type.
- Warehouses which are for Captive use
In this case, it depends on the company’s need on how they structure their floor plan.
Barcoding – Concept Telling
Barcoding or QR coding has become a buzzword. It is also a necessity now. Managing volumes without a barcode in a warehouse can become a horrendous task. Having said so, the term is to be understood in the right perspective.
The incoming material is usually barcoded at the time of receiving the items by the Factory or the customer on whose behalf we are receiving the goods. In this case, the warehousing company should be aware of the Barcode / QR code logic so that the reader while inputting the material can understand the code. It is recommended that the barcode should not be more than 35 characters long. In case it is more than that, QR code is suggested.
The barcode readers are of 03 kinds:
- Cabled readers are usually seen in any of the super shops or malls. They are hard-wired to the desktop and have zero mobility. The computer reads directly from these and it reads item by item (please imagine the billing counter at any of the mall supermarkets).
- Wireless Readers which are NOT smart but have mobility. The devices are carried by the warehousing executives and items are scanned in bulk. This device is then connected to the Jack which is in turn connected to the desktop. The scanned data is available in a text file which is imported in the desktop/laptop.
- Smart handheld readers – These are Android readers which interact directly with the software and are mobile. A separate application is usually used (for native apps) or the same app is used through a browser.
Trust this clarifies the basics of warehousing as a concept in an easy to understand English. In case of queries, please feel free to write at: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the next series, we shall address the features that a good WMS should have to handle scalability and complexities.