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Is your warehouse ready for the good times?

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3 min read

Is your warehouse ready for the good times?

The economic statistics for the UK seem pretty good right now, especially when compared to the rest of the Europe. This has got to be good news, but only if your organisation is poised to take advantage. Are you ready for success?

For the last few years the world has been gripped by despondency. Everywhere you look companies have been cutting back, reducing costs, holding off making decisions, telling their R&D departments not to come up with any clever ideas until the market becomes more robust.  Well, if the Office of National Statistics (ONS)* is doing its job right, the figures suggest it’s time to take the brakes off a little.

Great news! But if you are one of the companies that has spent the last five years consolidating and trimming overheads, are your facilities fit for the upturn that will inevitably come, if it’s not here already? We believe that there are plenty of warehousing and logistics companies out there who have yet to see what’s around the corner.

Tony Liddar knows, through over 20 years’ experience, that companies tend to make do with old systems as long as they can. “We have seen it so many times,” he said. “Companies will put off upgrading their warehouse management systems but then have to react quickly when a new opportunity comes along. It’s not a problem for us of course, but if customers were able to upgrade earlier they would be poised to take advantage of big opportunities as they arise.”

Sometimes the long term view is an unattainable luxury. New contracts come along unexpectedly and the only option is to react quickly. “But that’s not really the situation now,” said Tony. “Many companies have been making do for years, but we do now seem to be in a rising market. I believe that investing now will make long term sense.”

Taking a strategic approach to warehouse management provides many benefits. Tony said that every customer has individual needs and it is essential that these are identified and met. “This way they can maximise accuracy, flexibility and operational visibility and have a system that is both intuitive and supports the way they already work. It’s important that the system fits the company, not the other way around.”

Companies also need to establish what they expect a warehouse management system to do now and in the future. Should the system be linked to back-office systems? What’s the most appropriate way of collecting data: bar code, RF, voice, etc? What kind of reports are required? Is off-site access to data required? Do customers need access to their data? “If we have the time to work though all these options we can make sure we include everything the customer will need now and in the foreseeable future,” said Tony. “This way they will be ideally prepared for when the opportunities arise.”

Of course there are still some that prefer not to take a risk. They prefer a more cautious approach, nothing wrong with that, but by not investing they run the risk of missing out on opportunities. How much work might they lose because potential customers perceive their facilities to be inadequate? Nobody will ever know.

In 1989 there was an Oscar-nominated film called Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner that included a famous line to the effect of “Build it and they will come”. Investing in the future is always a leap of faith to some extent. But doing nothing, as the market changes around you, is rarely a realistic option.

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