Warehousing Maturity

Recently a supply chain executive asked me to rate his warehousing operations. "OK, on what scale?" I said, trying to be honest and at the same time not insult this hardworking leader. Here’s what we came up with: Level 1: Transactional / Reacting – inventory record accuracy, receiving, putaway, pick and pack, shipping Level 2: Productivity – integrated RF barcode, pick waves, ASN’s, returns management Level 3: Integration – cross docking, value-added services, global supply chain inventory visibility, transportation management, analytics Level 4: Demand / Supply Chain – postponement, pull replenishment, merge-in-transit, VMI, customer collaboration, supplier collaboration, supply chain transparency, advanced demand data Many operations I’ve visited over the past few years are operating at Level Zero; poor inventory accuracy, chronic treasure hunts and fire drills, low inventory turns, high excess and obsolete inventory. Warehousing operations are rarely the cause and often the victim of the lack of a holistic and systemic view of supply chain operations. My supply chain executive was relieved to hear that his operations were better than most, but disappointed to realize that there was still a long way to go on the journey.