Warehouse layout is a key to achieving improved pick and pack productivity and greater efficiency throughout warehousing operations.
The pick and pack process is typically the most expensive and most labor intensive activity in warehouse operations. How do companies reduce the labor time necessary to pick orders?
- The most frequently picked items should be located closest to the shipping area. To do this, companies need to review sales data on a continual basis to ensure that the products stored close to the shipping area today are currently the most frequently picked, not the most frequently picked items from six months ago.
- The warehouse layout, particularly the layout of the actual pick areas, needs to be designed to minimize travel time between picking locations. In order to effectively do this, warehouse managers need systems and processes in place to regularly monitor picking times and storage locations.
- Don’t necessarily group all products from each manufacturer together. Similarly, don’t necessarily group all of the same type of products together. Don’t simply focus on a limited number of fast moving items and place those close to the shipping area. Use a velocity based layout for all your pick areas, or better yet for the entire facility. In a velocity based layout, the most frequently picked products are placed near the shipping and the slowest moving products are placed the furthest away. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be totally rigid in this approach and you may want to vary it slightly to group like sized items together so that shelf height can be maximized.
- Make sure aisles, racks, shelves and bin locations are adequately marked. Use bright fluorescent overstock labels to tell pickers where to look for stock if the bin is empty.
- Modern warehouse management systems (WMS) can assist you in optimizing the layout of your warehouse facility and also plan pick paths after the new layout has been implemented.
In pick and pack operations, travel typically takes 50 percent of the picker’s time. Search takes 20 percent of a picker’s time. Picking takes 15 percent of the picker’s time and set up takes 10 percent of the picker’s time. The remaining 5 percent of a picker’s day can be categorized as other miscellaneous functions.
FW Warehousing is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with Midwest warehouse distribution centers in Kansas City, Indianapolis and St. Louis totaling more than four million square feet. Founded in 1949 with a focus on food-grade storage, FW later broadened its services to include contract warehousing, dry storage, hazardous material and chemical storage, temperature-controlled storage, product distribution and B2B and B2C fulfillment.
FW Warehousing has more than 50 years of experience in third-party 3PL logistics and has been ranked in the top 100 Third Party Logistic Companies in the country by Inbound Logistics magazine.