Put-away is that crucial warehouse operation that determines the success of further processes. A fallacious put-away can hamper the efficacy of picking in a great way and hence, the warehouses must resort to some of the best practices for put-away that are technologically enabled.
Warehouse operations, just like the larger gamut of the supply chain, are dependent on each other. The success and efficacy of one operation determine how efficiently the other tasks would be performed. Putting away the received stock is a very important cog in this wheel as it directly controls the cost, the accuracy, and the purported time for picking. Put-away refers to the storage of goods to warehouse locations and if it is done haphazardly, it is surely going to take a lot of time for the pickers to retrieve those items. A proper pick-path can never be generated which would lead to utter chaos on the warehouse floor. Pickers would run the extra distance in the warehouse and sometimes empty-handed and this would surely amp up the labor cost. It is needless to say that this faulty put-away can lead to wrong items being picked and would strain the business relationships among the partners. Hence, it is of utmost importance that warehouses follow a proper and methodical approach towards the put-away process.
The mainstay of modern put-away is not only managing the ware but also managing the locations. The success of the modern put-away lies in the warehouse executives’ knowledge of the aisles, the racks, and the bins, that are to be found at every nook and corner of the warehouse. This constitutes a wholesome grasp over the storage location, their capacity, and their size et al. Therefore, it is the foremost job of the warehouse executives to optimize the storage locations to felicitate picking. It is only when products are put-away scientifically that an efficient picklist can come as an aid.
Objectives of Effective Put-away
The core of put-away consists of certain goals that need to be achieved to curtail the time and the labor cost as well as to optimize the further proceedings. They are as follows:
1. To move the cargo from the dock to the optimal storage area as fast as possible.
2. To ensure the security of the cargo as well as the employees.
3. To optimize the warehouse space.
4. To store items in such a way that traveling time within the warehouse while picking and put-away is reduced significantly.
5. To store items in such a way that an efficient pick-list is generated and goods are retrieved without much of a hassle.
Best Practices of Put-away
1. Training and Accountability: Most of the time it is the incompetence of the warehouse workers that leads to the fallacious put-away. They are unsure of the optimized storage location. They do not have proper training and route mapping at their disposal to carry out the work efficiently. Due to this negligence, a lot of product gets damaged and misplaced and this results in unexpected delays in shipment. So it is of primary importance that warehouse workers are properly trained, instructed, and guided as to how the operations can be carried out without making any significant error. A proper route map of the warehouse should be made available to all and sundry so that everyone gets to know where and how to store items. Unless accountability is imposed upon the employees, there will always be space for errors. It is only when the employees know that the responsibilities of their assignments lie entirely on them that we get to see a drift from the lackadaisical approach.
2. Data Collection and Analysis: To have a practical and scientific outlook towards the put-away process and to utilize the business intelligence wisely, a consistent process of data collection and data analysis must be carried out without any failure. With efficacious data analysis, the most optimal storage locations of particular items can be determined. In this process, multiple factors related to the cargo and the locations must be taken into consideration. These include the cargo type, sales velocity, storage capacity, cargo dimensions, and receiving/shipping frequency etcetera. This process can either be done with the help of a warehouse management system or the entirety of the process can be automated so that the best results are yielded. However, relying on technology is inescapable here. Otherwise, manually, such complex and error-free analysis and data collection are tedious and next-to-impossible.
3. Monitoring Storage Availability through Barcodes and RFID: Warehouses must monitor the storage capacity and the availability so that workers do not run extra distance empty-handed or come back without accomplishing the task. Barcode scanners and radio-frequency identification devices (RFID) can come up to be extremely helpful in facilitating optimal storage and monitoring the warehouse locations through sensors. These ultra-modern gadgets can faithfully appraise the warehouse executives of the capacity and the free space available in storage locations so that products can be placed judiciously over there.
4. Create Timeline: The warehouse is a very busy space where products are received and shipped in bulk daily. If the work is put off, then backlogs are piled up, congestion takes place on the floor and unnecessary hassle is invited. Thus a strict timeline must be followed by all means so that workers stick to it and over time this adherence to deadline becomes a habit.
5. Direct Put-away: Direct put-away is a method that enables the movement of consignment from the receiving dock to the shipping dock without the product going through a staging process. Direct put-away is an extremely beneficial means of put-away as it significantly reduces the storage time and doesn’t allow many touchpoints. This method greatly eliminates the scopes of errors. However, to make this process exist, warehouses need an effective WMS that can assign the final destination right from the process of generating ASN or the receipt of items. In this scenario also, we get to see how technology can significantly aid the operations.
6. Classification of Products: There are multiple inventory management processes available and warehouses can stick to some of them according to their needs. ABC analysis, FEFO, FEFO are some of the most popular means. Warehouses should categorize their ware according to their sales velocity and put fast-moving items near the receiving area so that workers do not run the extra mile while picking and traveling time can be saliently reduced.
7. Task Interleaving: Task Interleaving is the process wherein different warehouse operations are yoked together and assigned upon an individual at the same time so that they do not travel a fallow distance. This method brings down the fallow time that gets unnecessarily wasted in the business days.
8. Usage of Fixed and Dynamic Locations: Based on the types and sizes of ware that are being stored and the capacity of the warehouse, fixed and dynamic locations in storing products can be judiciously juxtaposed. Fixed locations are the permanent locations that are associated with a particular type of item or a store. Fixed locations are useful in the sense that they expedite the entire warehousing process. Since workers know very well where they would store a product, there is little chance of mistakes, and the warehouse is governed in a very organized manner. Dynamic locations, as the very name suggests does not ensure to be the permanent location of any product. Workers put away the goods in the nearest or the first available location. Dynamic locations offer the flexibility that is needed while storing high-volume products. The products stored in dynamic locations can be replaced with different items as other locations are emptied and require replenishment. However, it must be noted that without a competent inventory management system that can track and trace products, this juxtaposition of fixed and dynamic locations can be a very confusing affair and can lead to a very clumsy state.
This preceding discussion has highlighted a point that technology is the saviour in the current competitive scenario. Without resorting to digital transformation, warehouse operations and especially the put-away of things can never be done effectively. The warehouse management system assigns locations according to the demands of the products and renders help in doing away with the mistakes that can occur along the process. WMS comes as the greatest help in tracking and tracing products with their service of providing end-to-end visibility. So it must be concluded that an advanced warehouse management system is an ultimate need in any distribution center and the DC's must adapt themselves to this digital transformation if they haven’t done already or if they have at all, the system must be upgraded for good to accommodate all the things necessary to cater to the contemporary demands.