Warehouse slotting is a highly critical function in ensuring the smooth and efficient flow of products throughout the warehouse. Slotting refers to the logic required to calculate where a specific SKU should be stored within a warehouse to optimize efficiency. The most common consideration is velocity. At its core, the primary benefit is the reduction in runtime and the resulting reduction in labor expenses. In addition, other calculations can be generated to ensure optimal use of space as well as a logical flow for the picking and putaway of the product.
Slotting, although critical, is not easy. It requires the use of excellent systems, sound processes, and an analytics team with a thorough understanding of warehousing and how to augment the flow of materials.
The initial layout of items can be extremely complex; however, in many organizations, the bigger struggle is the ongoing maintenance as the product mix and demand changes. In larger warehouses, there can be hundreds or even thousands of different SKU’s, with new items arriving every day. Without sound processes to account for an ever-changing environment, even the best optimization plan will ultimately fail.
Locating items properly is important in any type of warehouse layout. Velocity analysis should also be paired with a system-driven directed putaway. In addition to ensuring the run time is kept at a minimum, the directed putaway processes will suggest a location that minimizes dead space within the warehouse.
Overall, slotting properly will cut down on the travel time and labor expense to pick products. In addition, pickers can pick more effectively in a given area, and the footprint that each picker needs to cover can be cut down drastically. Depending on the equipment used, this can also cut down on time-consuming trips to the upper-level racks. In total, this should allow for shorter lead times from when orders are sent to the warehouse to when they can be picked up and sent to customers.
Here at WSI, we have had success in not only designing optimal layouts but also in the ongoing maintenance to stay efficient and optimized. Our system capabilities, processes, and analytical tools allow us to adapt quickly in an environment where the only constant is variability.