Your Ultimate Guide To Warehouse Slotting
Warehouse slotting is a process of analyzing and organizing inventory in a warehousing unit. Typically, the practice maximizes the space within the warehouse and helps in the efficient storage and picking process. Besides, it also helps in minimizing the handling and operating costs.
In addition to efficient space usage in a warehouse, warehouse slotting also allows fewer workers to pick orders efficiently. This ultimately leads to reduced labor count and costs associated with them.
One of the most time-consuming tasks in a warehousing unit is to pick products from different places. Essentially, this counts for around 60% of the workers’ time. Efficiently slotting the products can help reduce workers’ travel time, making them more efficient and productive in other processes as well.
What is Warehouse Slotting?
Warehouse slotting is the process of organizing inventory and space for optimal product picking. It involves analyzing the available storage space and the items that require slotting. The first step is the have a slotting strategy for optimal placement of products. Various strategies can be adopted for this.
Importance of Slotting in Warehouse
The process starts with evaluating the current space in the warehouse and analyzing if any improvements are required in the current slotting process. A simple improvement or optimization can lead to some major benefits:
- Optimizing and freeing up some space can be used for storing more inventory.
- It ensures that the inventory is spread throughout the warehousing unit.
- Optimized warehousing space improves inventory visibility, which ultimately leads to improved productivity in workers.
- Reduced costs associated with product handling.
- Decreased human error and improved accuracy in the picking process.
- Balanced workflow and enhanced worker ergonomics.
Warehouse Slotting Strategies
Warehousing slotting plays a crucial role in the organization’s profitability. The most suitable slotting strategy depends on the number of products, their types or variables, and whether they are sold individually or in a group. Let us take a look at warehousing slotting approaches that you can use to optimize space in the unit and speed up the picking process:
Assess Storage Space
This is a crucial practice to optimize the warehousing space and utilizing it most appropriately. Take a look at the storage plan you are using and decide if it makes it easy to pick products quickly. Evaluating the storage space and planning to maximize the space for utmost utilization will ensure efficiency and ensure that the inventory is always stored in the correct numbers, neither overstocked nor understocked.
Slotting by sales volume is the most common strategy widely used by most warehousing units. The products with the highest sales and turnover are placed closest to the packing station. This reduces the travel time of the workers as they can pull the orders and take them to packing stations faster. The products with the least sales are placed in the least accessible zones. This is utilizing the space in the warehouse as per the products’ sales volume.
However, this strategy has one disadvantage. Having too many workers in one area of the warehouse can lead to a bottleneck. A zone or hybrid approach will be better in this environment to improve efficiency.
Clean & Organized Warehouse
While placing the inventory in the slot, removing the unused packing material is crucial as it might also take up some space. If the warehouse space is well organized and slots are clean, the empty space is easily visible, and more products can be placed in the same area or zone. By keeping the warehouse clean and organized, the storage space will be increased, and it will be much easier to operate.
Moving items from one warehouse to another is a time-consuming activity. However, this activity is beneficial during seasonal changes, especially if there is a major change in your seasonal sales volume every season. Suppose you sell air conditioners and heaters. Air conditioners’ sales is most likely to go up in summers and heaters’ sales in winters. Thus, warehousing slotting can be done as per seasonal changes in this scenario.
Slotting as per Inventory Characteristics
When you assign slots to the inventory, ensure that you consider the inventory characteristics, like size, weight, dimensions, durability, etc. For example, if the inventory is heavyweight, you should store the inventory in steady enough slots to bear the products’ weight. If not, the slots might break and damage the other products in the slot. The same goes for other inventory characteristics. Also, keep the potentially hazardous items separately and away from other inventory.
Slotting as Per Inventory Priority
Keeping in mind the priority of inventory while slotting them is essential. Items that are picked up frequently should be kept in easy-to-access locations. So, the workers can pick orders quickly and send them to the packing station. You might also have allotted a different or secluded slot for a certain item; you can ensure it is placed near the packing station if it is frequently picked or shipped.
You can arrange slots based on a number of criteria. Like you set the priority of the slots based on the alphabetical order. You can also set a separate slot for priority products. One great idea is to slot the frequently shipped products in the center of the warehousing unit. But whatever criteria you use, the bottom line is that it should enhance the efficiency and productivity of the workers.
The items should always be easily accessible and reachable by the workers. Also, if there is a need for any equipment, it should be easily accessible by the workers. For example, lifting carts or ladders should be available if a product is placed in a higher space.