You can finally buy the secret ingredient…
Slotting a warehouse is similar to fake news… a few people are pitching it, but a huge number of people don’t believe in it. While there are many definitions for slotting, the most common is the idea that you can group your most popular items together and then reduce picker travel times. However, this model is also the one with the most disbelievers.
Over the years, I have visited dozens of distribution centers that have acquired slotting software that they simply don’t use. A few brave souls have tried, but many have given up or didn’t even bother. It’s not that the software isn’t good.
Today’s modern slotting software is excellent! Yet when queried, these warehouse managers believe in slotting in theory; they just don’t believe in it in practice. This is largely because they can’t find a practical way to implement it.
For slotting software to work, you must have a cooperative warehouse management system (WMS). This is because in most WMSs, you cannot move something that has picks allocated against it. I like to say “The picks won’t chase the inventory in most WMS products.” This creates huge headaches for the warehouse manager who wishes to slot his warehouse. To move fast movers from bad locations to good ones, he or she must wait for lulls in activity. But this is rare for fast movers because, by definition, they are always in high demand. So the only way to create these “quiet periods” is to open a smaller second or weekend shift. This becomes expensive at most sites, and for many it extinguishes their interest in slotting.
I am excited to say this limitation at last may be in retreat. During a recent WMS selection project, I ran across my first Tier-1 WMS, which will reallocate picks when the original target inventory moves. The picks really will chase the inventory! You don’t need a second shift to slot! For some of you, this could equate to large savings in picking labor (20% or more) if your order profile and pick methods are suitable to slotting.
So check it out, or at least spread the word. Slotting now may deserve a second look. Be patient. If your WMS doesn’t support this feature, I suspect it might soon. This “really good news” will be too important for most WMS companies to ignore.
As of September 8, 2020, Crimson & Co (formerly The Progress Group/TPG) has rebranded as Argon & Co following the successful merger with Argon Consulting in April 2018.