- Slotting optimisation is a critical factor in enhancing warehouse efficiency and performance.
- The ‘Golden Zone’ refers to the most accessible location in your warehouse, ideally chest-height shelving, housing the fastest moving inventory.
- Implementing slotting optimisation can deliver benefits such as increased pick speed, improved inventory control, enhanced worker safety, and superior customer service.
- A robust Warehouse Management System (WMS) can drive the process of slotting optimisation, providing accurate data to identify trends, constraints, and movement paths.
- The physical layout of your warehouse and the capability of your WMS are mutually dependent, warranting a coordinated approach to maximise benefits.
Understanding Slotting Optimisation: The Perfect Blend of Science and Art
Slotting optimisation is the art and science of placing the right product in the right place in your warehouse, a strategy that can greatly enhance pick speed and order processing. Rooted in the principles of efficiency and productivity, it is a key differentiator that sets one warehouse apart from another.
It entails strategically grouping items based on picking trends, Material Handling Equipment (MHE) constraints, and warehouse layout. This process is crucial for improving productivity, worker safety, and order accuracy. Fast-moving items are assigned the most accessible locations, known as the ‘Golden Zone,’ while larger, slower-moving inventory is relegated towards the back of the warehouse to minimize productivity impact.
The Golden Zone: The Sweet Spot for Inventory Management
The concept of the Golden Zone is intrinsic to efficient warehouse management. This area, typically corresponding to chest-height shelving, houses the fastest-moving stock, allowing staff to pick items without straining—eliminating the need to bend over or reach excessively. The Golden Zone not only minimises travel time between picks but also improves ergonomics and efficiency, keeping staff productive for extended periods.
The proper layout and design of your warehouse, particularly in the context of slotting optimisation, can directly affect its efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Considering order picking accounts for approximately 40 to 50% of total warehouse operating costs, enhancing speed and accuracy in this area can significantly reduce overall operating costs. In essence, focusing on the Golden Zone can be an effective cost-saving strategy in your warehouse operations.
Reaping the Benefits of Slotting Optimisation
The benefits of incorporating slotting optimisation into your warehouse management strategy are manifold:
- Increased pick speed and productivity
- Elimination of bottlenecking
- Decreased lead times
- Increased pick accuracy
- Superior inventory control and replenishment
- Accurate demand planning (e.g. seasonal trends)
- Better labour allocation
- Decreased handling costs (e.g. from damaged stock)
- Superior warehouse safety
- Improved customer service levels
The Synergy between Warehouse Management System and Slotting Optimisation
An efficient Warehouse Management System (WMS) is instrumental in driving the slotting optimisation process. The right WMS improves the flow of your warehouse by ensuring that the most frequently picked stock items are situated within the warehouse’s Golden Zone. It achieves this by providing accurate data to identify trends, constraints, and movement paths within your warehouse—thus creating a heatmap that should be continually reviewed and optimised by the slotting optimisation module.
The WMS also considers factors like restrictions, exclusions, and inclusions during the process of slotting optimisation. For instance, you could add a weight restriction so that your heavier stock is automatically stored on the floor rather than the top or middle shelves, improving safety regardless of how fast the item moves.
This process, however, hinges on the physical layout of your warehouse being conducive to your needs. Both the warehouse layout and the WMS must work in harmony for either to be successful. It’s therefore essential to involve your WMS partner during the process of designing your warehouse layout to enjoy the maximum benefits of the WMS right from the start.
Conclusion: Striking Gold with the Golden Zone
In a nutshell, the Golden Zone is a powerful strategy to maximise warehouse efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Implementing slotting optimisation with a robust WMS can drive a wide array of benefits, from increased pick speed to superior customer service. As such, mastering the art and science of slotting optimisation is critical to stay competitive in the evolving landscape of warehouse management and order fulfilment.