We’re all too aware that demand for home improvement products has continued to rise, so the last thing fabricators need is to be held up waiting for hardware to arrive. Fortunately, leading hardware distributor Window Ware has pulled out all the stops to minimise any supply issues to help their customers’ get their products out the door.
One of the ways the Bedford-based business has been able to do that is through its transformation of its warehouse at the beginning of the year, and the work of Operations Service Manager Laura Wren.
Laura, who has been at Window Ware for just over 10 years, has only been in the role since January and has already helped maximise efficiency in the warehouse.
Having started off in the sales office as a sales coordinator, before moving on to a project management role, being promoted to Operations Service Manager amid unparalleled demand for hardware and supply chain issues would seem like the worst time for the move.
But for Laura, the challenge has been one she has relished.
“It has been hugely demanding and has certainly been incredibly busy, but I like the fact that there are different challenges to tackle every day,” said Laura.
“Organising warehouse resource everyday so that we can meet current business demands, whether it be replenishment, goods in or despatch, is no mean feat! The additional volumes have meant we’ve had to scale up and recruit additional staff.”
“We’ve also had to communicate more effectively. Our operational management team introduced a daily ops call when we returned to work following Lockdown 1.0 which allows us to communicate and work together to solve any challenges that inevitably crop up when you’re dealing with the volumes of incoming and outgoing product lines that we look after on a daily basis. These meetings are incredibly beneficial – and something that is now a permanent feature in our diaries”
“One of our challenges was around social distancing and how we could safely pick and pack our orders, whilst adhering to guidance. I implemented a social distancing device that each user would wear which would buzz when the user got within two metres of a colleague. It also allowed us to track who had been in contact with who, which was really important as the worst-case scenario for us would have been if we had had to close the warehouse if anyone had been infected. This was a big success as we have been able to work all the way through.”
With the growing warehouse team, more packing benches and banding machines were also introduced to make the space safer and to help keep up with the demand and the extra rise in sales.
And it has all contributed to helping Window Ware cope with a record number of despatch lines and continue to ensure service levels are maintained, with pick accuracy averaging an impressive 99.3%
“Our success undoubtably boils down to our experienced team,” explained Laura. “Most warehouses have a high turnover of staff, but we have a very solid core and are quite a unique warehouse team as most have been at Window Ware for 20 years plus. Even when it’s been busy they have taken the time to train the additional staff and it’s all credit to the warehouse team leaders.”
“It’s felt at times that we’ve just been firefighting every day; I think covid alone would have been enough, but supply chain delays, and everything else has contributed to a very challenging time. However, we added the right resource, put the right social distancing measures in place, and we have managed to come out the other side even stronger. Everyone in the warehouse has done an amazing job.”
Laura is currently implementing some new racking and a change to the layout to make the warehouse run even more efficiently and for Sam Nuckey, the award-winning company’s Managing Director, the improvements will help Window Ware scale up even further in the future.
“The transformation of our warehouse has been absolutely key to us being able to adapt and grow with market demand to ensure we consistently meet the needs of our customers,” said Sam.
“By adding new resource and streamlining our processes we have been able to support our customers every step of the way. Laura and her team have done a fantastic job.”
Window Ware has been successfully serving the window and door industry with leading brand hardware, tools, and consumables since 1987, helping to ensure fabricator production lines keep moving and trade counter shelves stay stocked. For more information, call 01234 242 724, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.windowware.co.uk.