I recently spoke with a warehouse manager who bluntly told me the three things she has to control and manage:
Labor has a big impact on budget and can be scheduled as needed at a local level. If you see projected inbound or outbound activity in the near term you can work to get more employees in through either overtime or working with your local staffing partner.
Equipment is another semi-flexible resource a manager can control. I say semi-flexible meaning it depends on the type of equipment. Fork trucks, and man-up order pickers can easily be idled if not needed or more can be rented if you find yourself in a pinch. Conveyors, sortation systems, and even racking tend to be more permanent and less adaptable to change depending mainly on the layout.
Space is another variable that can impact overall warehouse performance and be managed locally. However, with space, expansion or contraction of this resource is not as flexible as labor or equipment. If you have empty space, it might be easy to temporarily store excess pallets, however, many facilities do not plan for excess capacity and will need to either find temporary space in a rented/leased facility or change storage strategies. You are probably thinking, changing storage strategies is not an easy, quick process. Adjusting beams, racks are bolted to the ground, relocating inventory already in racks, etc. But I agree with the manager I spoke with; it is a resource she can have some control and influence over.
For many years I would have included inventory as a resource a warehouse manager has control over. But as I learned through this discussion, inventory is not something a manager can control. Think about it. You are told what is coming in (by the buyers or planners) and told what is going out (by orders or customer service) and your job is to make it happen effectively and efficiently. It is the warehouse manager’s responsibility to make sure the inventory is protected while stored and available when needed.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know!