Reimagining Warehouse Slotting

Warehouse slotting is a big part of inventory management and order fulfillment. With speed and accuracy playing a major role in customer satisfaction, there has never been a better time to invest in optimizing your warehouse.

If there were ever a place where precision could meet performance, it would be at the warehouse.


What is Warehouse Slotting?

Warehouse slotting is the process of optimizing a warehouse to maximize its space and efficiency. 

In a typical warehouse, you will notice three basic properties. The item, its pallet, and the slot they are on. Warehousing slotting determines which items to place on any given slot and the best pallet to support its weight.

You will typically position or slot fast, moving goods near the warehouse exit to allow for speed and efficiency.

Warehouse slotting can be complicated, especially when multiple inventories and variations exist. The warehouse manager has to analyze all of them to find out how best he can slot them all through the warehouse.


Elements of Warehouse Slotting

These are the factors or components every warehouse should consider before slotting its products.


1. Storage Capacity

This is the warehouse capacity. With this, you will want to factor in the size of the warehouse and then determine how many products or items it can take on. This will also inform you on the type and size of product you can lace in the warehouse.


2. Popularity of the Item

Every item varies in popularity. Placing the most popular items near the warehouse exit or the loading bay is important. Every other item should be arranged through the warehouse in order of popularity from top to bottom.


3. SKU of the Item

Not every product in the warehouse will be the same size or weight. Some are heavier than others. Typically when arranging such items in the warehouse, you want ease of access and limited time carrying them towards the exit.

The bigger the item, the more vital its placement in the warehouse matters. For example, if you have a story building warehousing, you will want to place the heavier items on the ground floor.


4. Flow of Items Across the Warehouse

Ideally, you want to go for a free-flowing warehouse. This will increase speed and efficiency. However, it means significant investment in technology such as automation and AI, allowing for faster inventory identification across the warehouse and easy transportation to the loading bays.


5. Fragility of Item

Every item in the warehouse has a degree of fragility to them. You want to keep the most fragile ones safer to avoid damages.



Importance of Warehouse Slotting

Warehouse slotting is critical to any business or supply chain. These are some ways you can benefit from it.


1. Speed

This is a big part of the supply chain. Every supply chain wants to reduce its lead time to customers, and warehouse slotting is a good way to get that sorted out. Slotting can speed up your warehouse order processing which helps reduce the overall order cycle time.


2. Cost Reduction

Warehouse slotting optimizes your warehouse, which means fewer resources producing at the highest level. This could mean less labour, less damage, and fewer mistakes. All of this adds up to the reduced cost of running the warehouse.


3. Efficient Picking

Warehouse slotting enforces efficiency in order processing, whether through technology or the traditional method. Efficient order processing reduces mistakes and accidents and maximizes the use of available resources. All of which culminate in an easy-flowing process.


4. Increased Storage Capacity

With warehouse slotting, you can improve your storage space utilization by rearranging the warehouse to optimize each available slot. With this, you can store more products in a warehouse, helping you concentrate and save resources.


Warehouse Slotting Methodologies: Macro Slotting Vs Micro Slotting

Two fundamental methodologies regarding warehouse space optimization are frequently used: macro slotting and micro slotting. Let’s examine the distinctions between these tactics and how to pick the best one for your company.


Macro Slotting

Macro slotting takes a comprehensive look into your warehouse. It focuses on the broader storage features, such as the location of product types within the facility. The goal is to design a layout that maximizes overall efficiency while minimizing picker travel time.


Pros of Macro Slotting

  • Streamlines the overall design for easier navigation.
  • Congestion and bottlenecks are reduced.
  • Simplifies the administration of huge product categories.


Cons of macro slotting

  • Individual SKUs may not have enough space.
  • Less tolerant of frequent inventory adjustments.
  • Can result in overstocking or under-utilization of certain areas


Micro Slotting

Micro-slotting goes into further detail. It entails optimizing the distribution of specific SKUs within the warehouse. This method tries to shorten pick times and increase order accuracy by positioning frequently chosen goods closer to pickers.


Pros of Micro Slotting

  • Increases the amount of space available for each SKU.
  • Picker travel time is reduced, boosting output.
  • Changes in inventory and demand are easily accommodated.


Cons of Micro Slotting

  • Continuous monitoring and changes are required.
  • Initially, it may be more difficult to implement.
  • If not managed appropriately, it might cause congestion.


How to Choose Between The Two  Methodologies

Your individual business or supply chain requirements and the nature of your inventory mostly determine the decision between the two. Consider the following variables when making your decision:


Inventory Size and Turnover: Macro slotting might be better if you have a large inventory with a diverse product line. Micro slotting’s precision can significantly affect smaller inventory with high turnover.

Order Volume: Micro slotting can help minimize picking time if your warehouse typically fulfills tiny, frequent orders. For larger orders, macro slotting’s emphasis on layout may be more advantageous.

Seasonal Variations: If your inventory fluctuates seasonally or you constantly launch new products, the adaptability of micro slotting is advantageous.

Resources: Consider the level of resources (time, manpower, and technology) that you can devote to slotting management. Micro slotting requires more ongoing attention.


Warehouse Slotting  Best Practices

To make the most out of your warehouse slotting operation, these are some of the best tips or practices you should consider integrating into your warehouse.


1. Clean and Organized the Warehouse

It’s surprising how much cleanliness can help you maximize your warehouse space. Cleanliness helps avoid clutter which can prevent accidents and speed up the process. Dirt, like dust and debris, can harm your workers’ health.


2. Prioritize Items Accordingly in the Warehouse

Every item in the warehouse should be set up across the entire facility in order of popularity, size, and safekeeping of items. It doesn’t all have to be towards the loading bay. For instance, delicate items can be kept in slots with less traffic, preventing accidents and damage.


3. Safety First in all Warehouse Operations

Safety plays a huge role in warehouse layout optimization. By prioritizing safety, your employees can work freely, leading to efficiency. Safety also reduces the risk of product damage, immensely benefiting your supply chain and business.


4. Implement Technology Throughout the Warehouse

This plays a huge role in warehouse slotting through automation, warehouse management systems (WMS), or order processing technology like RFID. Technology simplifies warehouse processes, cuts lead time, and increases efficiency.


5. Evaluate Warehouse Spacing & Slotting

Your warehouse’s space has to work well with the products being considered for storage in that facility. Warehouse slotting works better when macro slotting is considered alongside micro slotting.


Types of Data You Need to Set up Warehouse Slotting

  1. Item Popularity/Demand
  2. Product Ease of Flow
  3. Inventory Size


FAQs on Warehouse Slotting

Q1: How frequently should warehouse slotting be checked and updated?

Review and adjust warehouse slotting on a regular basis, especially when inventory, order profiles, or business goals change. Many businesses conduct slotting evaluations on an annual basis.


Q2: What tools or software are available to help with warehouse slotting?

Several slotting software solutions are available that optimize warehouse layouts using algorithms and data analysis.


Q3: Can slotting be used in any kind of warehouse?

To improve operational efficiency, you can use slotting concepts in different types of warehouses, including distribution centers, retail stores, and e-commerce fulfillment centers.

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