Book Review: Warehouse Management

Warehouse Management:  A Complete Guide To Improving Efficiency And Minimizing Costs In The Modern Warehouse, by Gwynne Richards

For me, at least, this British focused book–be prepared for odd spellings of familiar words if one approaches this from the point of view of the United States and its measurements and terminology–is perhaps most intriguing in discussing the trade-offs that exist in warehouse management and the way that these trade-offs are simply impossible to completely avoid.  A great deal is asked of the contemporary warehouse when it comes to keeping stocks low, but also being able to meet changing demands rapidly at a low cost and with a somewhat demoralized workforce to do it.  After all, few people think that logistics is as cool as I do, and therefore a great many of those who work in logistics are faced with the problem of low status for what is a deeply important job with a lot of massive pressure placed on people to be more and more accurate with their projections and with their picking and packing.  This book is certainly useful for those who deal with warehouse management or those who simply want to understand it better and how it relates to other aspects of logistics.

This book is a bit more than 300 pages long and is divided into seven parts and seventeen chapters.  After an introduction the first part of the book looks at the role of the warehouse (1) and of the warehouse manager (2) within the overall logistics strategy of a given company.  After that the second part of the book discusses warehouse processes from receiving and putting away (3) to pick preparation (4), picking strategies and equipment (5), order-picking methods (6) and replenishment and dispatching (7).  After that the author discusses warehouse management systems (8), warehouse layout (9), and storage and handling equipment (10).  After that the author discusses how warehouses are resourced (11) and what sort of costs are involved (12).  The next part of the book then deals with performance management (13) and outsourcing (14), about which whole books have been written.  The sixth part of the book then discusses human elements to warehouses like health and safety (15) and the trendy look at how warehouses can help preserve the environment (16), which leads to a discussion of such matters like packaging and pallets.  The final part of the book allows the author to play prophet and look at the warehouse of the future (17), after which the book ends with references, useful websites, and a glossary and index.

There was a good deal to learn from this book and although the approach of the book was sometimes a bit dry the author did a great job at demonstrating the human angle of warehouse management and the way that solutions depend widely on context, and on knowing the sorts of goods that one has to store and ship.  People may be enamored with the idea of lean and the lower inventories that it involves, but then may not be willing to accept the lost sales and profits that are involved when one lacks the supplies to meet demand, and may even lose longtime customers as a result of not having items often enough.  There are always tradeoffs–one can do more with a better trained staff and voice packing, but in order to keep a well-trained staff one needs to make sure that employee morale stays high as well.  Even in a subject that deals as much with concrete goods as logistics does requires a great deal of attention to the human arts.  And it can be hoped that those who read this book will do a good job at pondering the conditions of the warehouses they deal with so that they can act and plan appropriately.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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