A large proportion of the SCCG projects centre around the successful warehouse operational design or improvement completed by our specialist warehouse consultants.
Commonly clients approach us with questions such as:
- Our business is growing, how much longer will the warehouse be able to cope and what should we do next?
- We have decided to move to a bigger warehouse, how big does it need to be, how should it be laid out and what will it cost?
- Our warehouse operation was originally designed around B2B, but increasingly we are dealing with small, B2C orders. How do we configure this to be more productive?
- The warehouse operation has developed over time without really being ‘designed’. Can we undertake a warehouse review to benchmark its performance and identify opportunities for improvement?
- We are looking at putting in a new Warehouse Management System (WMS). How do we get the right system at the right price and minimise implementation risk?
- We need someone to help us with our new warehouse from concept through to go-live. Can you cover this?
- Can we use automation / mechanisation to improve productivity and mitigate labour supply issues?
Our warehouse consultants will spend time on site to understand the current processes, layout, systems, equipment, and resourcing. We will walk through the processes in detail, for example goods in including new product procedures, put-away, pick-face replenishment, picking, packing, marshalling, despatch, returns, value added services, stock checking etc. Based on this we can assess the current warehouse’s storage capacity, throughput capacity and productivity performance. We will make recommendations as to how capacity and productivity can be improved, process changes, recommend investments, and provide supporting cost / benefit analysis.
Working closely with the client and our analytical team, our warehouse consultants will analyse business data (such as product master file, order line data, receipts data and stock data) for peak and average periods. The output of this will be a material flow analysis – a ‘day in the life’ of the warehouse operation, to which growth and other anticipated business changes are applied to reach a ‘planning base’. The planning base is a year-by-year set of numbers on which the warehouse design will be based. There can be multiple versions of this, for example low, medium, and high growth scenarios.
Using the planning base information, our warehouse consultants can estimate the required size of warehouse, considering each area e.g., reserve storage, picking, packing, inbound and outbound marshalling, returns processing, value added services, allowance for forklift charging, offices, staff welfare etc. This can then be refined through a full warehouse design process.
Following on from an initial operational review and high-level sizing exercise, it is common for us to undertake a warehouse technology evaluation. Applying their experience, our warehouse consulting team will arrive at several options that may be suitable. For example, these might include more manual options such as multi-order trolley picking, semi-automated options such as conveyorized zone picking, flexible automated solutions based on autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and fixed automation solutions such as automated storage and retrieval (AS/RS) systems.
Different route to market segments (e.g., online / retail / wholesale), and different product range segments may demand different technology solutions.
For each option we will determine the type and quantity of equipment required, the capital equipment and one-off costs, and develop a task-based resource model to support our assessment of operating costs. Hence, we will arrive at a cost / benefit analysis for a range of options, allowing a decision to be made with the client as to the preferred option(s) depending on factors such as attitude to capital expenditure.
Where pick-faces are required, we have developed a standardised method to allocate products to pick-face types based on volumetric data, throughput and frequency of accession, trading off the pick rate advantage of denser pick-faces against replenishment effort. Using this we can define the number of locations required of each type.
We will provide process design to support the recommended ways of working, with outputs such as flow-charts and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Having arrived at the preferred technology options and ways of working for the warehouse, we will design layouts to achieve the best possible flow within the building. For new facilities, a common process is to design around an idealised building and then adapt the design once a site or existing building is identified.
Our layout design will encompass all of the areas mentioned in the warehouse sizing exercise and will take into account health and safety best practice, incorporating proper aisle widths, walkways and escape routes.
Depending on clients’ requirements we provide 2D layout drawings and elevations, and increasingly, we provide 3D models and ‘fly-through’ video, which we find is very useful in explaining the proposed warehouse design to a wider stakeholder group.
Our team of warehouse consultants includes experts in warehouse management system (WMS) specification, selection, and implementation.
All WMS products have their own market areas where they work best (even the market leaders).
A “Bad WMS” is often the application of the wrong WMS to the wrong situation, or a poor implementation, rather than a fundamental failing of the WMS itself.
Success of a WMS implementation at one facility does not mean that it will be successful at a different facility.
An understanding of your strategy regarding route to market, logistics strategy and likely level of automation is required, along with an appreciation of the company’s wider systems environment and IT policies. You may select a WMS module from your ERP vendor, a standalone WMS, or a product with automation focus. Once again it is a question of determining what is best for your situation.
An initial requirements gathering process involving operational, project and IT stakeholders and putting together ‘user-stories’ will feed into a structured tender process, working with an appropriate vendor list to arrive at a decision based on a balanced scorecard of criteria.
Our WMS consultants can help with:
- Maturity analysis & initial business case for change
- WMS strategy (or surrounding strategic elements)
- Process mapping & requirements gathering
- Significant experience running WMS tenders
- Assistance with commercial & contractual negotiations
- Implementation assistance
We find many clients are looking for help beyond the initial design stage, and we can help with this at any level, from keeping in touch to ensure continuity, right up to full programme management.
Tasks our warehouse consultants can help with include:
- Supporting equipment procurement through structured specification and tender processes
- Transition planning to minimise disruption to ‘business-as-usual’
- Practical tasks such as defining racking location codes
- Setting up project governance – e.g. steering committee, workstreams, action logs, decision logs, risk register etc.
- Programme Management – co-ordinating all stakeholders and sub-projects to deliver the programme on time and on budget
Where long-term / full-time programme management is required, we provide experienced programme managers from our professional network.