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In-Depth

Maintaining Perpetual Motion

July, 2015

Maintaining Perpetual Motion

Cargo and freight traffic in the State of Qatar has increased at a dramatic pace, with the ports reporting 424,210 TEUs received in 2013, while the Hamad International Airport cargo terminal reporting 1.4 million tons currently receiving annually. Both these numbers are expected to grow by 36% and 4% this year alone, and with items arriving into the nation at such a rapid pace, logistics professionals are scrambling to keep up with the rapidly growing demand on their warehousing and transport needs.

Warehouses in particular are receiving and dispatching inventory at such volumes that exceeds the human capacity to manage, which is why the best warehouses are equipped with programmed management systems that organize all elements within the storage areas. A Warehouse Management System (WMS) in its strictest sense is a system devised to manage your warehouse under three matrices: its infrastructure, the material stored, and the resources (both human and mechanical) that interact with the first two elements.

Managing Infrastructure

Among the first considerations that the WMS must make is the various locations within the warehouse and their individual needs. For temperature controlled areas of the warehouses, such as those used for chilled or refrigerated storage, proper temperature management is tracked through the system. The WMS also keeps track of allocated and free locations ranging across items that need to be stored in temperature controlled setting, rack locations, and bulk storage locations.

As an item enters the warehouse, the WMS consults the specific needs of the item, then assigns it a location within the warehouse. In addition to temperature and size, the WMS also considers factors such as whether the item is fast-moving, slow-moving, and non-moving (or static). Ideally, fast-moving items are kept in lower racks, to the front of the rack, and closer to the main passageways of the warehouse making them easily accessible, and reducing travel time. Keeping such fast-moving items at a point nearest to the warehouse employees reduces the time and effort needed to manage their turnaround.

Managing Materials

Beyond allocating based on the demand for the product, materials must be managed based on expiry (for consumable items) and date of entry (for non-expiring items). Both benefit from the policies of “First Expiry, First Out” (FEFO) and “First In, First Out” (FIFO). Items must also be organized by type, grouping similar type items together, while also keeping very close track of ownership for each slotted item, all of which the WMS takes into consideration when directing employees to collecting the required items.

Warehouses in particular are receiving and dispatching inventory at such volumes that exceeds the human capacity to manage, which is why the best warehouses are equipped with programmed management systems that organize all elements within the storage areas

Managing Resources

A good WMS gives you a strong handle on the productivity of both your team and the equipment that they use. The larger your warehouse team becomes, the harder it is to manually track what each person is doing. Therefore, the WMS that Gulf Warehousing Company uses (for example) maintains contact with the radio frequency (RF) static and handheld devices. By tracking the username and password use of each individual employee as they execute their duties through the RF devices, and compare that with the manner in which other employees complete similar tasks, the WMS can give you an accurate impression of each individual’s performance.

The same kind of visibility can be afforded to the machinery and equipment, to ensure the equal distribution of work across all equipment. This is important to ensure that the natural wear and tear is spread among the machines, thereby maximizing the amount of time that all the machines can be used.

The WMS is ultimately a strong tool to manage the internal operations for any warehousing and storage operation, however it can also provide clients with real-time visibility for their stock, monitoring their stock levels, and adjusting their stock at a quicker rate. It is ultimately this adaptability that gives the WMS its strength, growing as the warehouse grows, accommodating the clients’ needs and requirements as they change, and constantly keeping the warehouse in motion.

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