Whilst outsourcing has always been prevalent in the logistics and supply chain sectors, there has been a marked increase in the requirements for Warehouse design and operational consultants over the last 12 months. This is the result of a number of factors all contributing to this rise in demand for specialist and practical expertise. The recession forced many businesses to reduce their logistics infrastructure and cost base whilst a slowdown in product demand put additional constraints on warehousing with slow moving and obsolete stock taking up valuable space and resource.

Many companies, regardless of industry sector, have survived the recession to date through drastic cost cutting exercises frequently having reduced the workforce and either closing or "mothballing" production and warehousing facilities. This strategy is often borne out of necessity and has the immediate short term benefit in terms of cost reduction however this raises two further questions; "What else can you do to improve your cost base?" and with evidence in some sectors that the worst is behind us, "How should you be planning not only to recover but also to grow and become stronger than you were before the economic downturn?".

TThere has been a noticeable increase in warehouse and picking facilities within the internet retailer and e-fulfilment sector as well as a number of business mergers and acquisitions now seeking to benefit from warehouse consolidation and economies of scale.

Planning how to react to economic recovery and capitalise on every opportunity as and when it arises is crucial. Where measures have been taken to rationalise and contract to combat recession, businesses need to be sure that they can react to the inevitable recovery and upturn in trade as and when needed and not be found wanting or lacking in resource and strategy when the time comes. Long term security will be highly dependent on a robust and sustainable Logistics and Warehouse strategy within your business and within that of your customers and suppliers throughout the supply chain. In order to survive, companies must endeavour to undertake the widest review possible to ensure that all elements of their warehouse processes, systems and facilities are not 'sub-optimised' and that inventory levels are minimised yet remain effective.

he need for a consultant with operational and practical management experience is essential and a good logistics consultant should be highly expert in Logistics Network design and reviewing current warehouse process and operations. They should be able to successfully develop and implement solutions for all areas of Materials Handling, Procurement, Stores and Inventory Management including Regional, National and Global Distribution Strategy Development and implementation, Tactical Stock locations, Handling and Picking processes, Demand Forecasting, Integrated Inventory Control, Vendor Management, Vendor Support Operations, inbound and outbound Logistics Management and Performance and Cost Measurement. All of the analysis and solutions specific to the client requirements must be presented with clear and concise rationale, having been costed and tested.

Most importantly the costs of current warehouse and inventory operations (per item or unit load despatched), must be clearly identified and the on-going cost reduction strategy must define requirements for flexibility in the business over the next 3 to 5 years planning horizon.

The strategy must be tested to ensure Interface / interaction between Warehousing and despatch and other operations / departments within the business as well as integration with existing ERP / MRP systems and WMS modules.

“What businesses don't need is a lengthy and unnecessarily costly outsourced consultancy project which delivers little or no practical benefit with no consultant / client interaction”, says Gideon Hillman FCILT MIC, “What companies rightly demand and subsequently should receive are implementable solutions specific to their requirements, costed, tested and presented with clear and concise rationale, including a detailed implementation path. This can be achieved through a fixed cost and logical approach which is effective and adds value to a client’s businesses with no additional or variable costs over and above those agreed for the scope of the work.”

For further details Contact:
Gideon Hillman Consulting Ltd
Tel: +44 (0) 1926 430 883

Author Bio:

Gideon Hillman FCILT MIC has over 20 years European Supply Chain, Logistics and Materials Handling industry experience, having been employed at a Senior Management Level throughout Europe with both manufacturers and Global 3rd Party Logistics Providers for over 12 years, prior to establishing Gideon Hillman Consulting in 2004, now one of the UK’s leading Warehouse Operational Development and Design consultancies..

His areas of expertise and experience are in Logistics Outsourcing Tender Management, Commercial and Business Development, Supply Chain and Logistics Network Design and Implementation throughout Europe for major manufacturers and household brand names in the Automotive, Food Production and Processing, Grocery and Non-Grocery Retail, Home Delivery Networks, Utilities and General Industrial & Manufacturing sectors.

He is regularly asked to write articles and provide comment for many trade publications, was a conference speaker on “Asset Management In the Supply Chain” at the IFPWA Global Conference in Edinburgh hosted by UKWA in 1998 and a speaker on Supply Chain Management at the Aid & Trade Humanitarian Relief Conference in Geneva in 2006.

More recently (2011) he addressed a trade mission (by invitation) at The Canadian High Commission in London on the subject of Logistics Outsourcing in the UK.

Gideon is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Logistics and Transport and a Member of The Institute of Consulting (a division of The Chartered Management Institute) from which he recently received a High Commendation award for his work in Logistics Network design.