In this blog series, supply chain leaders answer questions about their experience with warehouse technology & operations. This post features a Q&A with Morton Griffiths, COO at Carousel Logistics.
What do you view as the single biggest challenge in managing distribution centre processes and improvements in today’s omni-channel world?
Without a doubt, it’s exceeding customer expectations. To achieve this, providers need to be innovative and creative but also affordable.
For us, customer expectation is a focus area because it helps create a point of difference for our clients, allowing them to stand out in their respective markets.
As a leading provider of personalised logistics, Carousel Logistics works to deliver solutions that truly put our clients’ customers first. Unlike other standard fulfilment houses and warehouse operators, we don’t just offer a ‘traditional’ solution. This means we not only position ourselves differently but we also focus our business strategy on creating commercially viable solutions that meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. By having this drive, we continuously challenge the status quo, helping us to grow, develop and enhance our overall proposition.
What are the 3-5 most useful metrics you depend on to drive better operational performance?
As no one solution is ever the same in a Carousel warehouse, our processes and reporting can sometimes vary between clients. However, these are our most useful measurements for maintaining an excellent service:
- Orders picked (then packed) per operator, per hour
- Orders delivered on time
- Orders achieved by “cut-off” – e.g.: have we fulfilled all orders presented/given to us on a specific day?
- Order receipted/located within specified timescales – customer/product dependent
- Claims/damages ratios:
- Use this number to gain full end-to-end visibility and an indication of client satisfaction
- "Perfect order” – i.e. how many:
- orders are picked first time?
- go out on time?
- are delivered on time?
- contain the right product?
Technology can have an operational or informational focus. Operational drives specific improvements within processes. Informational gathers and may visualise data points from within an operation. Which do you see as the most important aspect of technology for your distribution efforts and why?
It’s actually the interrelated nature of both technology and operational drivers that are integral to bringing efficiencies and improvements within our warehousing environment. Carousel is, first and foremost, a technology-driven business and this underpins all of our services and solutions. As a result, we consider the application of such technologies absolutely critical to modern day logistics performance.
Over our 30 years’ experience, we have found that technology provides our team with much more focus on specific tasks and contracts. We currently use dashboards around our warehouse so the team can see exactly what is coming through the pipeline and how effective our performance is.
With constant updates from across the supply chain, we can also make quick decisions about where best to deploy staff or move resources depending on the time of day, volume of orders and pick type. With logic and algorithms built into the background of our systems, we can assess quickly the current state of play and whether we are on track to meet the required SLAs or KPIs. It’s an invaluable tool to both achieving and exceeding that all important customer satisfaction.
How critical is reverse logistics/returns management to your operation and why?
To our specific operation, returns management is of paramount importance. Dealing with either luxury brands or medical equipment, the reverse solution is almost as important as the original outbound process. Getting this wrong could result in:
- The on-shelf inventory value increasing if you need to maintain appropriate inventory levels
- Compromising customer satisfaction, particularly if a refund is required or the turnaround and receipt of their exchanged items takes too long
What’s most important is to make the returns process as simple as possible from the way the documentation is presented, to what labels customers need to apply, to how they engage with the carrier (or store if it’s a drop in), to what communication they receive throughout the returns process.
Do you have plans to incorporate any kind of automation or robotics in your warehouse operation? If so, a) what type, b) what timeframe are you working to and c) what do you expect to achieve?
Innovative by nature, we are always exploring how new technologies coming into the market can enhance our current offering. Over time we have reviewed machines provided by the likes of Kardex, Linpic and Megamat, but they are not suited to the type of intricacies required by our operation.
Many of our clients require a high-touch pick, pack and despatch service, which aren’t really suited to these kinds of technologies, so there are no plans to install robotics in our warehouse at this point in time.
Carousel Logistics is the UK’s leading provider of personalised logistics services. For the past 30 years they have focused on tailored logistics solutions that meet customers’ individual needs in industries including healthcare, technical engineering, agriculture and energy. Carousel relies on SnapFulfil’s cloud warehouse management system to help them remain flexible to customer needs while managing the fast-paced nature of their business model. Delivering deeper detail on how each of their operations are performing, SnapFulfil’s managed service model has also given Carousel more flexibility in meeting seasonal peaks in their business.
For more on Carousel’s WMS strategy, click here.
Stay tuned for our next supply chain leader Q&A.