Optimize Picking in Tight Spaces
How to optimize picking productivity in a relatively small space
You know the pareto concept – 80% of the productivity can come from 20% of the operation. That also applies to floor space in many warehouses and industrial operations.
One easy way to save space in your warehouse is to look for big, open spaces in your rack system. If you have pallet racks but not all of your inventory goes into full pallets, one quick way to save space is to use that rack space for higher productivity activities. Could you move each-pick or case-pick operations off of floor pallets or static shelving into flow storage embedded in your racks?
If higher velocity items close to the ground either stored on pallets or contained in shelving or scattered into various other areas, you may be able to consolidate them into a rack bay or two without extensively altering the rest of your facility layout.
For instance: If you are stacking free-standing product atop itself, you may need stronger packaging to protect the product. If you can get that free-standing product (typically cartons) off the floor and into flow storage, you can deduct the higher cost of packaging. You’ll definitely realize picking productivity & accuracy gains in that scenario. Besides that, it gets cartons off the floor, improves ergonomics and frees up that floor space for other uses. If you could eliminate some rows of shelving by shifting their contents to flow storage in your racks, you could recoup space and realize significant picking efficiencies.
Above is an example of replacing part of a rack with each-pick carton flow to maximize the space. It utilizes pallets (racked above), and carton flow in the lower bay for access to bins or cartons of product. It might be useful in one bay or a long row of them. But it’s just one way to go about it – we’ve linked some more information and flow racking pick configuration ideas.
It’s all about getting more shoehorned into that productive 20%.
Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Vice President of Marketing with more than thirty years of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. His work is published in multiple industry journals an websites on a variety of warehousing topics. He writes about automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations and those who operate them.