warehouse

10 Proven Principles for Best Warehouse Design and Operation

10 Proven Principles for Best Warehouse Design and Operation

In this article, Logistics Bureau’s Mal Walker, who has spent decades exploring all aspects of warehousing, offers some valuable tips on warehouse design and operation. Over the years, Mal has come to appreciate that there is real science behind distribution centre design, operation, and flow management. He has delved deeply into it and identified ten principles for optimising warehouse performance. Let’s take a look at them one by one: 1) Minimal Touch of Goods We want to get as close as possible to zero handling of products in the warehouse. Unless it is fully automated, the average warehouse will involve seven or eight instances in which products are handled. That means that people actually pick something up and put it down seven to eight times, either manually or using MHE. If you can get that down to three or four times your warehouse performance will improve. 2)  One-Way Flow One-way flow is really important, not only that of the goods in the warehouse, but also of vehicles around the warehouse. One-way flow is a really good principle to apply during the design process because it allows you to plan your picking path through the warehouse as well as your replenishment paths. In terms of vehicles, in Australia, we run trucks generally in a clockwise direction around the warehouse. The reason for this is so that drivers can reverse on the right side if they have to back into a dock. In the United States and many other parts of the world, it’s the other way around—counter-clockwise. 3) Triadic Warehousing The vast majority of warehouses we see today are based on the triadic design—in other words, divided into three zones: Fast-moving productMedium-moving productSlow-moving product A warehouse that has no zones would be non-triadic. But we may have both triadic and non-triadic in the same warehouse due to the increasing reliance on automation. In the automated section of a warehouse, you don’t need to know where the stock is because the crane or the automatic storage and retrieval system will find it. But in the section that is operated manually, the correct placement of stock is critical. 4) Inventory Control Inventory control is about having the right amount of stock to meet customer demand. We have to track the movement of products because that drives the physical process in the warehouse.  It’s important to look at sales but also at the...

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Improve your Warehouse Productivity Through Product Slotting

Improve your Warehouse Productivity Through Product Slotting

ARTICLE SUMMARY Product slotting can significantly improve warehouse productivity—and reduce labour costs by up to 30 percent. Simply put, product slotting is about putting the right product in the right place so you can pick it in the most efficient way. In other words, you put the fastest moving products closest to the packing and dispatch area to minimise the movement of people in the warehouse. How to do this? To start with, find out which products are picked the most and place them as close as possible to where dispatch is situated. It is important not only to think horizontally but to think vertically as well. So, slow-moving products go up on the top shelves because it takes longer to get them, while faster-moving products come down on the bottom shelves. Doing it right can save you 15 to 30% in warehouse labour costs. One of the key things you can do in your warehouse to improve the productivity of your staff as far as picking and packing go is to institute a system of product slotting. How Supermarkets Slot Products You may well ask: “What the hell is product slotting?” To answer this question, let me give you an analogy. When you walk into a supermarket you will invariably find that the fast-moving products—such as milk, and eggs, and bread—are stocked at the back of the store. Why do the stores do that? It’s because they want you to walk through the entire store, seeing all these other products that you might buy. On the way through you may pick up a packet of biscuits or a chocolate, and by the time you leave you’re laden with goods you didn’t intend to buy. In effect, retail stores slot their products (understandably) in a way that is optimal for sales, not ergonomics. How Warehouses Slot Products The supermarket example above represents the exact opposite of what you should do in your warehouse. Here, you put the fastest-moving products closest to the packing and dispatch area to minimise the movement of warehouse staff. You want to lay out your warehouse so your picker’s travel the least distance. Simply put, warehouse product slotting is about putting the right product in the right place so you can pick it in the most efficient way. Here’s another way to look at it. Imagine the warehouse as a big box. On one side...

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