Slots are the smallest spaces that individual items go into. While racking is the overall system of organization, this is subdivided into first shelving units and in turn, slots. Warehouse slotting optimization involves managing these slots to ensure that the facility operates with maximum efficiency.
What does slotting mean in a warehouse?
Within a logistics and distribution center, it’s very important to make sure the right goods are in the right locations. Warehouse slotting optimization is all about organizing the placement of items for efficient loading and unloading, correct protection of the goods and of course safety and security within the facility.
Each shelf within the racking system is itself divided into a range of slots that can take goods. This means you will have different items sharing the same shelves as their slots are cheek-by-jowl. Also, the same item may have slots in different parts of the warehouse layout design to ensure harmonious operation.
Warehouse slotting software
Nowadays, distribution centers are mainly online and digitally organized. The inflow and outflow of goods is arranged on virtual platforms and monitored by handheld scanners and other devices. Specialized software also helps to organize the placement of goods and can even use AI to suggest warehouse slotting optimization.
Warehouse slotting optimization software will predominantly work off SKU data, which contains the information of the items themselves. This includes physical dimensions and any special care that will be necessary for their storage. Following this data, the programs can make sure that slots are correctly sized and placed for the goods they will receive.
The next part of the puzzle in a warehouse setup checklist is to look at the manifests for goods coming in and out of the storage facility. This considers order volumes, so you know what sort of quantities of each good will be coming in and also the order history, which allows you to gauge how quickly they will be going out.
Strategies for warehouse slotting optimization
Taking the time to plan out an efficient strategy is the very definition of short term pain for long term gain when it comes to warehouse slotting optimization. Having a good logistical structure in place from the start will mean that you hit the ground running and do not waste time later reorganizing or dealing with problems stemming from poor organization, so consider hiring a warehouse setup consultant.
What is a warehouse slotting strategy?
Warehouse slotting optimization means considering a range of aspects. The way you bring these different points together into a single coherent system is your warehouse slotting strategy.
Safety comes first. Your strategy here will need to consider how the goods fit into their slots and any problems that may come from overloading or falling objects. You need to familiarize yourself with how to stack a pallet rack correctly before starting.
Next, you should consider traffic jams in your strategy. You need to consider which goods will require forklift access and which can be retrieved manually. By doing so, you can begin to plan out access paths and routes for maximum warehouse slotting optimization.
It may be the case that you are dealing with some special goods within the facility that require certain care or conditions for storage. These goods range from frozen and chilled items to the more basic ‘handle with care’ fragile goods. Your warehouse slotting optimization will have to take this into account when laying out a strategy.
Warehouse slotting optimization
You might think that the best way to organize your slotting is simply by putting all the high-turnover goods right next to the loading bays. This isn’t necessarily the case, however. For a start, that could be unsafe. Secondly, it could provoke traffic jams, as the loading bays will often be blocked by people moving those goods.
If you have a lot of high turnover goods and therefore will be spending a lot of time loading and unloading, your warehouse slotting optimization strategy may involve setting access routes to work in a circular fashion. This means that forklifts will not waste time turning and lessens the chances of passing accidents.
The same goods do not always have to go next to each other. It is perfectly reasonable to aim for warehouse slotting optimization via placing the same type of good in different places. For example, you may need to use a slot close to the unloading bay for one batch of goods, yet the others can go in deeper storage as they will not be leaving until much later.
Neither do goods have to stay in their original slot until final dispatch. Rolling systems of warehouse slotting optimization allow goods to enter in one place and circulate through the system before dispatch. Certain warehouse racking options such as push-back racking explicitly encourage this.
Goods that require special storage should be slotted together or at least close by. This is another area where the physical needs of the slot may be more important than the speed of turnover or dispatch. If there are goods at high risk of theft, they will need slots that are easy to monitor by camera systems and/or supervisors.
It’s worth considering that warehouse slotting optimization doesn’t just mean organizing a system for the current warehouse layout but also planning for the future. If there are going to be seasonal surges in demand, for example at Christmas, you should build flexibility into the system to allow for this. By the same token, think about possible expansion or new goods that might enter the system somewhere down the line.
Serviap Logistics can help you with warehouse slotting optimization.
At Serviap Logistics, we provide and install warehouse features in Brazil, Mexico, and the United States.
Those include racking, signage, labels, floor marking, and collision protection. We also offer project management services, and can oversee setup, refit, or warehouse slotting optimization.
We count some of the world’s biggest companies among our satisfied clients and partners, covering a wide range of sectors, including automotive, e-commerce, and wholesale, among others.
As a family-run company that has grown internationally after starting out in Mexico, we are committed to service excellence and pride ourselves in providing a personalized service to every client.
We are also dedicated to upholding the highest safety standards wherever we work, including being OSHA certified in the United States.
Contact us today to find out more about how we can assist you with your warehouse slotting optimization.