Warehousing & Fulfillment

Slotting: 5 Tips to Optimize Your Warehouse for Efficiency

Jules

by Jules

On 2019 M08 14

by Jules

Warehouse efficiency is a key factor when it comes to order fulfillment, but how can this be pulled off successfully? This is exactly where warehouse slotting comes in!

Slotting improves your warehouse process by making it much more efficient, and the fulfillment process much more seamless. But just what exactly is slotting? Here’s a closer look at what it is, why it’s important and five slotting tips for warehouse optimization!

What is Slotting in a Warehouse?

Warehouse slotting is the process of organizing stock in a warehouse or distribution center. The goal of warehouse slotting is to improve efficiency while cutting handling costs to maximize warehouse optimization. Slotting is not just about the placement of items, but rather the process of making a warehouse more organized, efficient and easier to manage overall.

Consider a scenario where you have to store items which are frequently shipped, but just stashed them in a warehouse without thinking it through. Now, you have to have to retrieve the items immediately for a large order, but can’t remember where they’re located, how many are available and other key details. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?

This is where slotting comes in. The slotting process intentionally makes organized space for items based on their attributes to boost efficiency, organization and overall warehouse optimization, helping you keep track of where specific items are and retrieve them quickly and without any confusion.

Warehouse optimization is very important for proper and fast order fulfillment. Warehouse slotting rules, therefore, should be applied to improve the functionality of the warehouse. To this end, slotting often involves the implementation of special spaces designed for items according to their size, weight, perishability, sales popularity and such, in order to maximize organization and efficiency. Warehouse slotting also includes documenting these slots before and after you put the items there.

Specifically, there are two kinds of slotting: fixed slotting and random slotting. As its name implies, fixed slotting means an item has a specific, fixed location for picking. These are established keeping in mind the estimated minimum and maximum quantity of items to be placed. Random slotting, on the other hand, involves the use of warehouse zones to store items. This approach often works well in larger warehouses with huge amounts of inventory.

Why is Warehouse Slotting Important?

Warehouse slotting is very important, as it organizes your warehouse and increases productivity and efficiency and ultimately plays an important role in warehouse optimization.

  • Slotting helps ensure proper product handling. Items are placed neatly and properly for pickup and are easy to locate, so handling improves greatly. If the items are not stored properly, then you may eventually either damage them or delay their shipping. For example, if perishable items are not stored properly in their designated and facilitated slots, then they may be expired when their picking time arrives.
  • Inventory storage is organized and easy to manage with warehouse slotting. Items are placed in the most suitable spaces according to their attributes, making it easy to find them efficiently for fulfillment.
  • The fulfillment process becomes seamless, as picking and shipping become smooth and timely. Locating and lining up the items for timely pickup is very easy with warehouse slotting. If the warehouse offers packing services as well, then the slotting process helps you separate the items for packaging and place them in their specific pickup area after packaging.
  • Product losses and damages become minimal. Because of warehouse slotting, all the items are placed according to their size, weight and other requirements which are well documented. This makes locating a specific item very easy and losing an item, subsequently, is rare.The same goes for inventory damage. Heavier products are organized in such a way that they’re not placed on lighter, more fragile items, decreasing the possibility of product damage greatly.
  • Warehouse slotting also helps guarantee a fast and accurate pick-and-pack and shipping process.
  • The slotting process is also vital for all aspects of warehouse optimization, including labor efficiency, order pickup, put away, storage and shipping.

5 Warehouse Slotting Strategies to Boost Efficiency

Many warehouse slotting rules and strategies exist to boost warehouse efficiency and organization. Following these five tips can go a long way with your warehouse optimization efforts!

1. Keep the Warehouse Clean and Organized

Organization and cleanliness are the unsung heroes of efficiency!

If your warehouse is organized, slots are cleaned and properly-labeled, and items placed in an easily-accessible manner, then the warehouse naturally becomes much more efficient and easier to navigate. It’s also important to remember to remove unused packing material or other discarded materials around the warehouse. By keeping everything clean and organized, you’ll find that your storage and fulfillment operations will be much easier overall!

2. Assess Your Storage Capacity Carefully

This is a very important practice and, if done properly, can be the lifeline of your warehouse.

Take a close look at your warehouse’s storage capacity and decide on a warehouse optimization plan that makes it easy to pick items for shipment quickly and safely. Careful evaluation and planning are key to maximize your warehouse’s efficiency and ensure that your inventory is never overstocked or, on the other hand, understocked.

3. Rank Slots by Priority for Easy Accessibility

When you’re deciding inventory slot locations, keep in mind the priority of the items you place in the slots.

Frequently picked items should be kept in a place which is easy to access and locate so that workers can locate the item to fulfill their orders quickly. If you have different zones for certain types of items, make sure that the pickup station is not far off from the slot of the frequently shipped item so that the pickup staff doesn’t have to cover more distance. This will save time and effort!

You can use a number of criteria for setting the priority of the slots as you think is suitable for your warehouse. You can do it according to alphabetical order or you can set a separate slot for  frequently-shipped items in the center of the warehouse.

You can even set the front slots of each zone for hot items or red-marked items in each zone. But whatever the criteria for priority you set, the bottom line is that it should enhance the efficiency and speed of the process.

The accessibility of the items should always be made easy and within reach of workers. If the item is placed on a higher space, ladders or lifting carts should be available. Carts should also be available for heavier items.

4. Consider Characteristics of the Slots Before Assigning

When you make and assign slots, you should consider item attributes like size, dimensions, weight, durability and material used for making the slots.

For example, if you’re planning on storing heavy items in the slot, you should know whether the material used in making the slot is durable enough to bear the weight of the items placed. If not, it can break and damage other lighter weight items in the slot. The same goes for the size and type of the slot. You should also have separate slots for putting potentially-hazardous items and other heavy or large items.

5. Think of Employee Safety

As they say: safety first!

You should never put your employees in danger just to earn a few extra bucks. If your employees are safe, then their productivity will increase, making your warehouse much more efficient. The materials used for the slots should be durable and sturdy; items should be organized in a way that’s easy and safe for the employee to handle.

All the equipment that requires putting away, picking up heavy items, or items placed higher up should be available for the staff. Your employees should be insured for accidents as well.

Remember - happy and safe employees are the most efficient ones!

Use a Slotting Process to Boost Warehouse Optimization

To get the most out of your warehouse, it’s important that you optimize it. For that, slotting is critical for keeping your warehouse as efficient and organized as possible.

With these valuable slotting tips, you can not only keep your warehouse better organized and much more efficient, but optimize your entire fulfillment process to give your eCommerce business a competitive edge!