Why Is Warehouse Slotting So Important?

Proper slotting leads to greater productivity and efficiency in warehouses, distribution centers, and anywhere utilizing high-density storage solutions.

If you’re new to warehousing, you may be unfamiliar with the term. So what exactly is slotting? In simple terms, slotting is figuring out how everything fits best – that is, what is the most appropriate storage place for each SKU. Proper slotting makes sure that each item always is readily available.

How often should you re-slot? The answer to this question can vary greatly according to the particulars of your operation, but go-to response is “at least quarterly.”

How do you slot? The fundamentals of slotting include creating a list of items based on how picking frequency and which SKUs tend to be shipped together. Other factors that affect slotting include:

  • Item weight/bulk
  • Volume of goods/inventory
  • Seasonal swings
  • Upcoming equipment changes
  • Changes to product mix

The Benefits of Proper Slotting

The benefits of proper slotting include order-picking efficiency, workflow balancing, and employee ergonomics.

While order-picking efficiency is an obvious result of slotting, let’s take a closer look at the second two benefits. When items aren’t properly slotted, warehouse workers may end up in dense concentrations in specific areas, which may lead to bottlenecks and slow down your order-delivery times. Efficient slotting creates workflow balance to reduce this kind of congestion and help make the entire operation run more smoothly.

You may not realize that slotting can increase employee ergonomics. With items – especially heavier ones – placed in the golden zone between the employees’ knees and shoulders, you create an environment that easier on their backs. What’s more, such an ergonomic layout has the potential to decrease incidents and accidents, as well as the resultant workers’ compensation claims.

The Three Keys to Best-Practices Slotting

According to an article published by the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC), there are three key components to best-practices slotting:

  • Blended demand forecasting. When you start storing a new product, there is no history on its demand. So the best you can do is consider the historical demand for similar items, as well as any promotions you may run.
  • Multi-variable placement rules. The speed at which a particular inventory item moves can’t be the only factor in deciding where to store it. Other variables to keep in mind include the items hazmat status (or any other unique classifications) and pack size. It is rarely a good practice to slot based on a single variable.
  • Integration to labor management. Unless you are setting up an entirely new operation, it usually is not efficient to re-slot an entire warehouse at once. Gradual re-slotting over time takes into account the actual benefit of moving items versus the labor requirements to move them to their new spot

If you are looking for solutions to an over-full warehouse, call the high-density storage and used warehouse equipment experts at Outsource Equipment today. We can answer your slotting questions and suggest other solutions as needed.