The responsibilities of running an FMDC
If you’re running an FMDC (fast-moving distribution centre), then you’re already aware that it presents several significant challenges.
Your facility is at the heart of the modern supply chain. And its function is to ensure that products get from manufacturers to retailers (and possibly even directly to consumers) as efficiently as possible. Which means you have a lengthy list of challenges and complexities to face to achieve this:
Managing inventory in an FMDC… well, it’s a balancing act, isn’t it? Too much stock could lead to wastage (especially if your products are perishable) and it’s probably going to increase your holding costs, but hanging onto too little could result in stockouts, leading to missed sales and unhappy customers.
Your facility only has so much space, and maximizing that space is crucial. Efficient layout, well thought out racking systems, and other storage solutions can make a massive difference in how much inventory you can store – and how quickly it can be picked and dispatched.
Labour is typically one of the biggest expenses in an FMDC. And managing shift patterns, ensuring health and safety compliance, training, and dealing with staff… or staff turnover can be challenging.
With the rise of e-commerce, you probably now need to integrate with various IT systems, including those of suppliers and customers. This allows for real-time stock checks, and more efficient order picking, etc. You can even give your customers direct access to information about the status of their order – if you want to – rather than needing a team to answer enquiries about where their stuff is.
Transportation and Logistics
Making sure that goods are delivered on time requires a well-organized transport system. This might involve coordinating with third-party logistics providers, and/or managing a fleet of vehicles, and maybe even checking traffic and weather conditions. You might even need to work with independent carriers who need access to your shipping information.
Since the UK’s exit from the EU, there have been added complexities related to customs checks, tariffs, and import/export regulations. This causes delays and requires added administrative work.
There’s increasing pressure on every business, including FMDCs, to reduce their environmental footprint. This can span everything from reducing energy consumption and waste, to considering the environmental impact of packaging and transportation.
Health and Safety
Warehouses and distribution centres can be dangerous places. Ensuring that all operations are conducted safely, that staff are professionally trained, and that equipment is well-maintained is crucial.
Predicting demand can be challenging but it’s the only way to ensure the right products are available in the right quantities. This requires sophisticated analytics and sometimes integration with retailers’ systems.
With vast quantities of goods passing through, security is a concern. This involves both physical security measures and cybersecurity to protect IT systems. Batch control can also be massively helpful.
There are specific regulations concerning the storage and transportation of certain goods, especially perishables and hazardous materials. Compliance is not optional and can be complex.
Building and keeping good relationships with suppliers is vital. This can involve negotiations over prices, delivery schedules, and dealing with issues like product recalls or quality concerns.
At the end of the day, running an FDMC that plays a pivotal role in the modern supply chain as well as the broader economy is no mean feat. It requires a combination of operational ability, a top-of-the-range WMS, strategic planning, technological savvy, and adaptability to a changing business landscape. And if you’d like some additional support, we’re ready when you are.
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