Slotting a warehouse or distribution center might seem like a simple aspect of inventory management that has little impact on your operation’s efficiency. However, poor slotting can derail an operation. Wasted time from unorganized pick paths can wreak havoc on the overall productivity of an operation and poorly located product can cause an increase in fatigue for your associates (and even increase the potential for injury).
Optimizing a warehouse’s slotting can provide an operation with a productive boost with tangible results. Below, we will cover five tips for optimizing your warehouse’s slotting profiles and bringing those tangible results to your operation.
1. Start with Clean Data
Clean data is the foundation that every slotting model must be built on. If there are any qualms about the validity or veracity of your dataset, then steps need to be taken to ensure you are working with the best available information. During the cleansing process, ensure that there are no “dummy values” hidden in the data. Important data fields when slotting include item velocity (number of hits or total lines in a time period), required on-hand levels (how many days’ worth of stock you would like to hold in a pick location), with the most important being item dimensions and weights. Grabbing accurate dimensions and weights and continually updating the SKU Master list can be accomplished during the inbound process – especially with the use of technology such as a Cubiscan machine.
2. Clearly Define the Objectives
When re-slotting a facility, it is important to establish the rules that you want to use to drive your methodology. Clearly defining these parameters – such as zoning (sometimes called “golden zoning”), matching pick velocity to the storage medium (i.e., bulk pallet locations or flow locations), SKU consolidation for better space utilization, and special categorizations (i.e., hazmat, fragility, etc.) – can all be then factored and allow you to produce the optimum pick paths.
3. Utilize Advanced Slotting Technology (or Hire Someone with These Tools)
There are slotting tools available on the market to assist with a re-slotting project. These high-powered applications bring slotting into the 21st century and help to make a project run more efficiently and allow analysis that would once take months, be able to be completed in days. These tools can allow a team to set different scenarios with different slotting objectives and compare the results, while also allowing the team to quickly reassess and pivot direction if conditions change. If your confidence level in using these tools on your own is not high, Johnson Stephens Consulting, a division of Hy-Tek Material Handling, is here to assist! JSC, through our partnership with Optricity, utilizes OptiSlot to prepare and complete slotting projects. OptiSlot, a high-powered slotting optimization software application, allows the project team to properly balance all factors and provide the optimal slotting layout that helps to maximize an operation’s output in a timely manner.
4. Minimize the Disruption when Re-Slotting
Re-slotting can be a tedious task – especially when an operation must continue to run with its normal workload. Once the re-slotting output has been finalized, establish an execution plan that minimizes the effects on the normal operations and prevents downtime. Performing these moves during non-productive hours can help to minimize disruptions to the operation. As the stock is moved, it is also important to cycle count all affected SKUs to minimize the risk of a reduced inventory accuracy percentage.
5. Continuous Monitoring and Improvement
A warehouse’s slotting plan is never finished! It is always a prime candidate for continuous monitoring and improvement, especially as business factors change. Seasonal promotions, peaks, and the associated ramp-up in on-hand stock can push SKUs to different slot types or locations. Getting stuck in a status quo is a sure-fire way to introduce inefficiencies to your operation, so there should be no hesitation in starting a re-slotting project.
Slotting is an important aspect of any warehouse’s operation. If you believe that your operation could benefit from a re-slotting project, do not hesitate to contact a consultant today for any needs you might have!