There is much more to warehousing than simply storing valuables in a large building. This practice involves ensuring goods moving through the warehouse are safe and that their movement is tracked carefully from the moment they arrive to the moment they are claimed. In fact, warehousing itself is a fully fledged industry. So intricate are the logistics demanded by warehousing that most owners of these structures have installed computerised warehouse management systems to handle them. The beauty of relying on these systems is that they are less error prone than jotting down figures in a ledger. It also leaves records of transactions for future reference. For instance if an item gets lost, it is much easier to trace what or who was to blame. Considering the number of activities that go on in a warehouse from receiving goods through to their collection, use of automated systems is only logical.
Let’s rewind and start from the top; how exactly do operations in a warehouse take place? Well, goods are delivered to the warehouse by truck or by ship or by rail. After the merchandise has been offloaded and processed, it is taken to the warehouse for storage. Here items are stored in such a way that they consume as little space as possible. The system of storage must also ensure that the goods can be traced to their owner and retrieved in an orderly way. This is especially important in the case of public warehouses that handle the property of several different parties. Thorough inventory control is therefore not an option in such facilities. Inventory control is quite an undertaking and involves the physical counting of items as well as the cycles of their arrival and departure from the warehouse.
Another important task that falls under warehousing is the packaging of products. Goods are sometimes repackaged while in the warehouse in order to prevent any physical damage to them. In connection with this it is the duty of the warehouse manager to keep stock in a neat and orderly way. This, apart from making commodities safer, facilitates easy access to them. It also creates a good impression with clients of the warehouse owner and encourages repeat business. After the packaging is done, the goods are also labelled or tagged so that they can be more easily identified. This makes the process of tracking the items as well as retrieving and delivering them much faster. When goods are being taken out of the warehouse they are taken to a staging area for some final processing and shipment to their intended recipient.
While it is possible for a business or manufacturer to have their own warehouse, many prefer to hire the facilities of those specialised in this field. This happens in two ways; on a contract basis where the owner of the goods pays a flat rate for the space for a given period of time, whether they have goods in the warehouse or not. Or hire on a lease in which payment is made only for the duration in which goods occupy space in the warehouse.
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