Improving efficiency in fast-moving seasonal warehouses

Written By Reagan Nyandoro


Lorry on Snowy Road

Many supply chains experience seasonality in one form or another, and this is particularly apparent in retail supply chains in the run-up to Christmas.

But there are many other forms of seasonality, from changing weather conditions and temperature, to cyclical and erratic peaks in demand.

An article in the January 2018 issue of Computers & Industrial Engineering looks at how policies that take into account both weather seasonality and changing demand can be used to improve warehousing efficiency.

The authors from the University of Bologna in Italy write: “The increasing attention of consumers to product quality and safety raises new challenges for logistics.

“Enhancing the operation efficiency and mutually ensuring the safety and quality of the handled products are key levers for logistics providers and other operators in temperature-sensitive supply chains.”

In this example, they look at temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals, including a 3PL warehouse of biomedical products.

They write that by assigning storage based on ambient temperature conditions in different parts of the warehouse, and considering the demand, weather and rate of turnover of the product, picking travel times can be improved by 12% and inventory safety by up to 20%.

As 3PL warehouses often see rapid turnover of inventory, and serve supply chains ranging from biomedicine to food and beverages, where temperature and perishableness need to be considered, they add that “the ability to address this issue is a strategic competitive lever”.

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This can deliver up to 3-6% cost reductions from invoicing inaccuracies, 5-10% through transport optimisation and as much as 80% reductions in manual planning time.

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