Slotting Considerations In Your Pick, Pack, And Ship Operations

Slotting is the process of positioning the items in your warehouse so that they can be quickly pulled off the shelves and placed in a particular location (usually the shipping dock but not always). How well you slot your warehouse directly affects the speed of your customer fulfillment process. The faster you can fulfill each order, the more orders you can handle each day. Three of the most important slotting considerations in your pick, pack, ship operations are discussed next:


Distance Traveled

Faster moving items should be placed closer to the shipping dock than slower moving items. Faster moving items have a higher picking frequency. Therefore, the locations of items within the warehouse are determined by their picking frequency. This is not the same as the total quantity moved. For example, if 500 items are ordered once per year, its picking frequency is once per year. That is, the item is picked once with a pick quantity of 500. This item should be further from the shipping dock than an item that gets ordered 500 times per year with a pick quantity of one. A single trip where 500 items are carried at once covers less distance than 500 trips where a single item is carried at a time. There is an exception to this rule which will be covered next.

Item Size

Suppose you have 10 small bins of different items that together occupy the same amount of shelf space as a single bin of a large item. Suppose further that each small item gets 20 picks per year and the large item gets 100 picks per year. It makes more sense to place the small item bins together and locate them closer to the shipping dock than the single bin with the large item. This is because the small items combined, get 200 picks per year which exceeds the 100 picks per year of the larger item. The shelf space occupied by the small bins (placed next to each other) nets more picks per year than the shelf space occupied by the bin with the large item.

Other Accessibility Considerations

Once item size is factored in, then faster moving items should be more accessible than slower moving items. Although distance from the shipping dock is an important accessibility consideration, it isn't the only one. Other considerations are whether a ladder or lifting truck is required to reach the storage location. A location at floor level is more accessible which means that faster moving items should stay on the floor. Beyond height over the floor, any circumstance that adds time to the process of moving an item to the shipping dock is an accessibility consideration.

In summary, slower moving items (lower picking frequency) should be located further away from the shipping dock and further off the floor than faster items. Multiple small items should be aggregated together into a single location and distanced from the shipping dock according to how fast they move as a whole. This aggregation of small items is often seen in hardware stores where bins of nuts, bolts, and washers are always kept next to each other.

For more information on pick, pack, and ship operations or on warehouse management systems in general, please contact us.

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