The golden zone: why slotting optimisation can deliver significant productivity benefits
Slotting optimisation is a great way to boost productivity and profitability in your warehouse. Here’s how your warehouse management system (WMS) can help you put the right product in the right place in your warehouse, improving your pick speed and order processing.
How does slotting optimisation improve warehouse efficiency?
Slotting optimisation helps you determine the best locations for your inventory by strategically grouping items based on picking trends, MHE constraints and warehouse layout. This helps improve productivity, worker safety and order accuracy. Fast moving items are placed in the most accessible location in your warehouse (known as the golden zone), while large, heavy, slower moving inventory is placed toward the back of your warehouse where it’s unlikely to affect productivity.
What is the golden zone in your warehouse?
The golden zone is the sweet spot for your fastest moving stock: chest height shelving. This allows staff to effortlessly pick stock (without having to bend over or raise their hands above their shoulders).
This reduces travel time between picks, and improves ergonomics (keeping staff more productive for longer periods of time) and efficiency.
The layout and design of your warehouse (which includes slotting optimisation) directly affects the efficiency, productivity and profitability of your warehouse. Why? Because order picking accounts for around 40 to 50% of your total warehouse operating costs - so the faster (and more accurately) your staff can pick stock, the lower your overall operating costs will be. In short, this is the very first place to focus when trying to save money in your warehouse - when your fastest moving stock is in the golden zone, everything just moves faster.
The benefits of slotting optimisation in your warehouse
- Increased pick speed and productivity
- Eliminate bottlenecking
- Decreased lead times
- Increased pick accuracy
- Superior inventory control and replenishment
- Accurate demand planning (e.g. seasonal trends)
- Better labour allocation
- Decreased handling costs (e.g. from damaged stock)
- Superior warehouse safety
- Improved customer service levels
How your warehouse management system & slotting optimisation work together
Your warehouse management system (WMS) can and should drive most of the slotting optimisation process. The right WMS helps you improve the flow of your warehouse, by ensuring the most frequently picked stock items are in the golden zone of your warehouse. How does it do this? Your WMS provides accurate data to identify trends, constraints and movement paths within your warehouse - creating a heat map that should be constantly reviewed and optimised by the slotting optimisation module.
Heat mapping shows you where the most active products live in your warehouse so that you can house them within the golden zone.
Your WMS also takes into account things like restrictions, exclusions and inclusions during the process of slotting optimisation. So, for example, you may add a weight restriction so that your heavy stock is automatically stored on the floor rather than the top or middle shelves (regardless of how fast the item moves) to improve safety.
This does, however, rely on the physical layout of your warehouse being conducive to your needs - in other words, these two things rely on each other to be successful. If possible, you need to involve your WMS partner during the process of designing the physical layout of your warehouse so that you can enjoy the maximum benefits of the WMS right from the start. The right WMS partner will help you set up your system properly, in alignment with your business goals, to make sure you get the most out of your investment.