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International Forwarding Association Blog » Warehousing logistics » Unraveling Waste in Warehousing: Implications for Freight Forwarders

Unraveling Waste in Warehousing: Implications for Freight Forwarders

The backbone of effective supply chains, warehousing operations, often host various forms of waste. These wasteful practices, including excessive inventory, waiting time, inefficient transportation, and over-processing, pose operational challenges that directly impact the performance and efficiency of freight forwarders.


The Consequences of Excessive Inventory

In the warehousing context, excessive inventory involves overstocking goods beyond demand requirements. This results in storage constraints as well as high warehousing costs due to additional handling and associated labor costs. For freight forwarders, an overstocked warehouse could mean a limitation on the number of goods that can be accommodated before their forwarding to the final destination. Furthermore, the inflation in warehousing costs often trickles down to the freight forwarders, thereby escalating the total logistics costs.


Waiting Time

Any idle time in warehouse operations, whether involving workers or machinery, constitutes waiting time. This idle time generates delays that affect freight forwarders’ ability to meet delivery deadlines. Delayed forwarding timelines could result in penalties and detrimental effects on the forwarders’ market reputation.


The Pitfalls of Inefficient Transportation

Inefficient transportation within the warehouse involves unnecessary or inefficient movements of goods. This could mean moving items multiple times or across unnecessarily long distances. Such inefficient practices can lead to delays in the loading and unloading processes. Such delays directly impact freight forwarders by slowing their operations and potentially affecting their ability to meet delivery deadlines. Additionally, the risk of goods damage due to these practices could lead to financial losses and customer dissatisfaction for logistics providers.


The Drain of Unnecessary Motion

Unnecessary motion in a warehouse setting refers to the excess movements by workers, such as excessive bending, walking, or lifting. This form of waste leads to inefficiencies because time and energy that could be directed towards more productive tasks get wasted on unnecessary movement. Moreover, repetitive or excessive bending and lifting can result in health and safety issues for warehouse staff. For freight forwarders, these issues could translate into increased costs due to workers’ compensation claims, productivity losses, and potential staffing shortages due to injury-related absences.


The Price of Defects

Defects in warehousing primarily include errors in picking, packing, and shipping, along with damaged goods. Such mistakes increase costs due to the requirement of returns, packaging, and reshipping. Furthermore, these errors negatively impact customer satisfaction, damaging the reputation of freight forwarders.


The Downside of Over-processing

Over-processing in a warehouse refers to performing more work or more complex processes than necessary. This form of waste can cause unnecessary delays in preparing goods for transport. It directly affects freight forwarders by slowing their operations and increasing the risk of errors in order fulfillment. Additionally, the usage of high-tech machinery for simple tasks can inflate warehousing costs, which could increase the charges for freight forwarders.

This inefficiency encompasses underutilization of both human and material resources. On the human side, this could mean having skilled workers performing routine tasks below their skill level, which leads to wasted potential and lower productivity. On the material side, underutilization can involve underusing warehouse space or equipment. For forwarders, underutilized warehouse space could mean fewer goods being stored and forwarded, affecting their overall throughput.