Slotting Solutions Cross Industry Boundaries

With significant cost savings on the line, warehousing professionals across industries are looking to improve picking, replenishment, and space utilization. To help in that effort, Optricity, a supply chain software provider, recently facilitated a roundtable, "Smarter Slotting: Your Next Move," at the 10th annual North Texas WERCouncil Warehousing Resource Convention in Grapevine, TX. The roundtable allowed participants to voice their own slotting challenges by sharing unique experiences with fellow warehousing practitioners.

The resulting discussion revealed various ways in which participants can employ or tweak slotting techniques in order to yield the best ROI for their operations. The following highlights from the slotting roundtable conducted October 12, 2011, at the North Texas WERCouncil Warehousing Resource Convention reflect slotting challenges faced by roundtable participants and the discussion surrounding them.

Seasonality
• Most of the time the pre-season location of an item is too small, causing red-lines and adding to the cost of selection. Selectors will identify problems because they cannot do their work in a timely manner.
• The period AFTER the season is where operators need to actively realign product, as fast moving seasonal items are occupying high value slots, but need to be moved back to less valuable slots based on non-seasonal movement. Selectors will not identify these issues, as they are not frequently selecting the items that have just gone out of season.

Running out of space
• 80% of the time, operators who believe they have run out of space have actually run out of slots.
• Wasted space in the pickline can usually be recaptured by re-profiling and reslotting items to the correct slot type (size) and location in the pickline.

Retail groupings - inefficient in the warehouse
• While slotting a facility using retail groupings helps the retail outlet (store) become more efficient through a reduction in backroom sortation, that same grouping strategy will hinder warehouse productivity and greatly reduce pickline flexibility.
• One must measure the benefits attained at the retail location and compare to the diminished productivity in the warehouse to determine if a retail grouping strategy is optimal at a global level.

How to handle new items
New items should be placed in the best empty location in the pickline until item movement characteristics can be determined.

How to make minor slotting changes
Misslotted items should be sequenced based on a “biggest bang for the buck” ranking.
Using regular time workers (and wages), the sequenced list may be worked until the available labor is used up.

“No matter the industry, warehousing professionals are going to experience some of the same bumps when it comes to slotting,” said Dan Basmajian, Optricity's president and CEO. “Bringing a group of people together to talk about slotting challenges reveals not only common problems, but also elicits a variety of solutions, some straight forward, some more creative.”

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