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Posted at: Oct 10, 2018, 12:42 AM; last updated: Oct 10, 2018, 12:45 AM (IST)WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT

Success in store

Success in store

Sandeep Sabharwal

In the fiercely competitive world of business, warehousing has emerged as a major necessity for modern organisations. It plays an important role in enhancing organisational profits by providing various services, including storing of goods, receiving goods, picking items from a particular locality, and shipping goods to a stated destination. The importance of warehouse management can also be understood from the fact that organisations devise their strategies based on their warehousing capacity and investment in warehouses.

Growth drivers

Due to the inherent advantages associated with warehouses, large numbers of companies have showed interest in maintaining their own warehouses. This is leading to demand for warehouse management professionals for coordinating the incoming goods, the subsequent storage and tracking of the goods, and finally, the distribution of the goods to their proper destinations.

Warehouse management is especially critical to the agriculture sector due to its role in addressing crop losses which is a must if India is to effectively address malnutrition and hunger. Agri-solutions firms are adopting robust warehouse management practices where the  focus is on scientific practices, process-oriented methodologies and big data analytics to improve operational efficiency thereby bringing down inflation and end farmers’ woes. These firms have taken the lead in adopting best warehouse management practices and processes for a robust supply chain management in agriculture. Growth in the e-commerce market is also fueling dramatic changes in the demand for warehouse management services. For example, many online retailers have found themselves needing to accelerate order fulfillment and shipping, interconnect operations across multiple locations, including brick-and-mortar stores, websites and mobile apps to maintain their competitive place in the industry. 

This requires organisations to gain a greater degree of control and transparency across their supply chains so that they can not only keep up with demand, but move items into and out of the warehouse at the rapid pace required within the industry.

Talent requirement 

With the growing e-commerce industry and globalisation, warehouse management is now evolving to be a specialist’s job that not only requires strong business acumen, but also needs sharp technical knowledge. 

Some of the key skills that are required to operate successfully in warehouse management space include , analytical skills and understanding of block chain technologies. 

This segment is among the few which will create more jobs as automation accelerates in the future. There is currently a huge requirement of professionals across warehouse management field as companies face a shortage of people at the posts of supply chain analysts, warehouse managers, distribution centre managers etc.

Many positions in the field already rely on computers to track and plan the distribution of materials. This requires aspirants to be able to quickly learn and adapt to any company-specific software that he may encounter. This is in addition to acquiring training on safety procedures and to familiarize with any local regulations concerning the workplace and its flow of traffic. 

Previous experience plays an important role in securing warehouse management jobs. This is particularly true for a warehouse manager job where previous experience of working in lower-level positions in a warehouse environment is required before being considered for the position. Warehouse management jobs are often a hands-on position. This makes it imperative to have the knowledge and training to operate pallet jacks, forklifts and other pieces of warehousing equipment to greatly enhance employability. 

Training requisite

There are varied kinds of jobs available in this space. For beginners jobs are obtainable with only a high school diploma or its equivalent. However, it is advisable for them to go for certification course to learn how to create an efficient layout of the available floor space, how to assign roles and responsibilities, and how to manage inventory.  Certification programmes are also available for warehouse managers to impart ways to increase efficiency, productivity, quality and accuracy of warehouses as well as effective workforce management and evaluation methods. 

Some warehouse management careers require aspirants to have an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in logistics or a related field. 

Bachelor’s degree will educate the aspirants on distribution, material and inventory management, and logistics. Demand for such courses has gathered pace with e-commerce boom and widening of scope for such services in other industries. There are varied courses available in India pertaining to Warehouse Management which offers remuneration upto Rs 12 lakh per annum, making the field a rewarding challenge for the new comers. 

A promising industry

With a technological evolution in the warehousing domain, leading companies in the agri ecosystem are coming forward to re-skill and re-tool their warehouse personnel with the latest technology and tools available in the market. These training processes exclusively designed for working in the warehousing field act as a stepping stone for aspiring new comers as well. Trainings provided are mostly inclusive of Quality Training, Fumigation, Operational Management, Back Office, and Human Resources & Administration.

This move will boost the confidence of  newcomers in the industry and give them the necessary ammunition for a lucrative career ahead. 

Role and responsibility  

Versatility is one of the key traits that organisations look for in a warehouse management professional as they want someone who has done and can do a little bit of everything without losing track of the big picture. He must be able to manage a wide variety of people with different backgrounds, educational levels, and professional experience and goals. No two days are the same for warehouse management professionals. They will routinely have to undertake different responsibilities such as, training employees, maintaining open lines of communication with vendors and transportation companies, and ensuring a safe work environment. Additionally these responsibilities will have to be performed either individually or in various permutation or combination in a highly versatile environment. Some other responsibilities of warehouse management professionals include handling supply chain operations, warehouse management, transportation, managing unmanned and automated vehicles, digital transactions etc. This is besides working knowledge of inventory control and warehousing systems, loading and unloading procedures, hazardous materials storage, simple math, inventory-management software and many more to deliver effective services.

Evolution of warehousing industry in India

Warehousing in India has evolved from being glorified godowns to the modern, technically fitted floors with computerised specifications. The formerly concrete or low-grade steel godowns are increasingly being replaced by pre-engineered, factory-produced steel structures that are often assembled at a location. These modern warehouses are insulated, ventilated and climate-proof with round the clock surveillance and standardised quality and safety procedures. In short, warehousing in India has evolved into a complete logistics friendly infrastructure system. As per a report by Ernst & Young and the CII Institute of Logistics, the industry is growing at a rate of 10 per cent per annum and its size is estimated to be around Rs 560 billion. The warehouses catering to industrial and retails clients claim the maximum share of 55 per cent followed by CFS (Container Freight Station) and ICD (Inland Container Depot) that have a share of 15 per cent; Agri-warehousing account for 15 per cent share while cold storage accounts for another 15 per cent share. 

The rising demand

Warehouse management segment is dynamic, and requires companies to come up with new strategies to adapt quickly to variable demand and cost conditions. Due to the growing economy and competition, the number of business investments in this segment is increasing as companies are focusing on efficiency to drive growth. The trend is clearly visible from the increasing number of warehouse management professionals that companies are hiring to manage their warehousing functions either in-house or through specialized firms. With companies' struggle to find suitable talents in warehousing management likely to continue for the foreseeable future, warehouse management professionals with a strong business acumen and versatility will remain the most sought after professionals in the country.

— The writer is CEO- SLCM Group


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