What is warehousing?

Warehousing consists in accommodating certain quantities of finished products or goods in a specially-designed building. The warehousing period can extend for as long as necessary. It may be short or long depending on the product, type of good or raw material in question.

A similar term is that of storage, which is done by the store. The shorter the storage time, the more profitable the stock is. This is quite simply because products do not become obsolete, there is less loss and theft, storage space rental expenses are lower, and storage surface usage fees are diminished. Hence the desire to store products over short periods only, on a just-in-time basis prior to shelving.

The constraints in place for storage and warehousing are therefore different. These differences include the premises, logistical management, handling, follow-up and equipment used.

 

Specificities of warehousing

When looking to store materials or spare parts used for product manufacture, the logistical option chosen is warehousing. For various reasons including practicality, safety, logistics and costs (expenses and taxes), the destination warehouse is most often isolated from the production chain and sales area. It can be reached by certified transporters, affiliated to the industrial companies or retailers involved in the supply chain.

Inside the warehouse, good ergonomics make product management easier: item location, use of push or pull flow methods, type of storage (fridges or freezers). This requires the presence of specialised equipment: racks able to bear large quantities of pallets, mostly automated forklifts, etc.

Warehousing is also used for products waiting to be delivered. Long-term warehousing makes stock management easier. It frees up space in points of sale and production areas, which do not necessarily have sufficient storage.

Logistical management is also optimised thanks to a dedicated IT system, which provides warehoused quantities and their value in real time. This kind of system relies on the use of a Gencod number or RFID labels (radio frequency identification). It also means documents related to administrative management can be printed out.

 

Examples and practical applications

Warehouse management assistance

  • Gencod and RFID are essential for managing warehousing. They make production easier by providing a clear and instant view of the products, raw materials and spare parts in stock that may be useful to production.
  • In aiming to make warehouse management as efficient as possible, several internal traceability solutions are available, based on the Gencod number printed on the container, pallet, box or consumer sales unit.
  • Production sites use softwares bestowed with production management modules (CAPM). They plan production harmoniously, based on the useful stock levels available in the buffer zone and going right up to the production chain. The latter must never be interrupted, except in the event of an accident.
  • A WMS (Warehouse Management System) is used by logisticians to manage stock levels for each bar code. As such, they are aware of each product coming in or going out, operated by which partners (on what trolley or truck for instance), and at what stage of the supply chain.

 

Warehousing in figures

In France in 2020

  • 840 million square feet of warehouses.
  • 1.9 million logistical jobs.
  • 6% of the active population.
  • 20% of women.
  • 500,000 new jobs by 2025 [1]

Regulatory cornerstones

Legislation in force in terms of traceability (ISO 9001: 2015 or ISO 22005), as well as that concerning the items held in the warehouse (NF EN 15635 or NF EN 58916 standards).

 

[1] Source of the figures: https://www.supplychaininfo.eu/chiffres-cles-secteur-logistique/