Recently, I was lucky enough to pay a visit to our client Surfdome’s warehouse for a little tour - or rather a big one since they are constantly expanding. It was my first time in a warehouse and, as dorky as it may sound, it was actually quite fun. Seeing our warehouse management system in practice was insightful and simply getting to understand the processes was immensely helpful.
One of the things I noticed as I walked down aisle after aisle after aisle, was how incredibly chaotic the inventory seemed. We snooped in a couple of the locations and found a whole variety of SKUs (stock keeping units). In one location alone we found a checkered shirt, a black tee, and a pink bikini all thrown in together.
I thought how putting stock everywhere, regardless of what else was in the location, seemed so incredibly strange but then I saw a picker. We followed him down an aisle as he went about his pick run and within less than three minutes he had picked picked about 5 different items from multiple locations.
Curious as ever, we accosted him and asked about the process of putting multiple SKUs in one location - ie. having dynamic warehouse locations - and here are the benefits we learned:
1) It is actually much easier for a picker to pick items from dynamic locations with mixed SKUs. Why? Well, it’s really quite simple when you think about it. Let’s say you have to pick a medium grey shirt for an order. Is it going to be easier to find among the same grey shirts of differing sizes or when it’s mixed in with green cargo shorts and a pink crop top?
2) Dynamic warehouse locations make put away faster, too. With decent warehouse management software you can put items away in whatever location you like, so long as it is scanned in. Generally you can expect your operators to put similar items (shirts, trousers, dresses etc) in the same general area, but beyond that each SKU can go in whatever location is nearby.
[Related: How to save warehouse space and avoid moving]
Our happy picker also spoke of some tips and tricks for picking that we thought might be worth sharing:
1) You don’t need to waste time visually identifying the product that you take from a dynamic location to pick. If you have taken the wrong one, when you scan it with the handheld device it will tell you so. This shaves valuable seconds of each pick.
2) You don’t have to be a fluent English speaker to complete a pick run because the system will not allow any mistakes to be made, such as misreading an item description.
3) Use coloured tags on your pick trolleys to denote a certain order type. For instance, Surfdome had red and green removable tags that represented picks for DPD and Royal Mail orders.
4)Customising your location barcode labels to include a small arrow (as shown in the picture) helps operators to easily identify which barcode corresponds to which location without having to check manually.
To read more about our client warehouses, take a gander at our case studies.
Author: Jess Lawrence