Optimize your warehouse with the right put away process
The term put away refers to the process of moving incoming inventory from the receiving zone to an optimal location for storage. This location could be anywhere, including the picking area, the replenishment area, or the storage area. Although it may seem like a minor part of your warehouse operation, this process is very essential for a warehouse.
In this article, I will review the different ways of doing the put away, the best practices, and its benefits.
Putting away methodologies
There are two main methods to put away your incoming products: indirect and direct methodology. Let’s take a look at each method in detail.
This method implies breaking the pallets, counting, and sorting the products. The sorting can be based on the purchase order, the product SKUs, or their type or category.
Based on a purchase order
This indirect method analyzes your purchase order(s) and groups all the items that are stored close to each other. By grouping them at the beginning of the process, you can put all of them away in one trip. Putting away based on a purchase order makes it easy to weed out any mistakes or incorrect items since you will have to look at every item in order to group similar ones.
Based on SKU
Putting away based on SKU is when warehouses allocate space for their products based on their SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). The SKU of an item is determined by features such as its brand, manufacturer, color, size, and properties. With this method, you sort items that have similar SKUs, close to each other. It’s typically used by warehouses that hold large quantities of products that share the same SKU so that when stored close to each other, they are easier to find.
Based on product type
This method groups items in a specific location based on criteria such as the type and size of the product, how often it is purchased, etc. For instance, if you receive yogurt, then it will need to be stored in a refrigerated area. Putting away based on product type is the method to go for if you’re looking to use your warehouse storage space effectively, but make sure that you have warehouse management software on hand to manage the sorting processes
Direct put away
With this method, you can store an entire batch of received goods in its allocated area, instead of sorting through them and putting each item away in a separate area. Warehouses typically use this method when they receive a batch of items that are all intended for the same customer. Since they will be sending the entire batch of goods together, it makes sense to store them all together as well. This method is also used when warehouses receive a batch of goods that all belong in one particular zone of the warehouse. In cases like these, all items are heading in the same direction, so there is no need to unpack and sort through the batch. The good thing about this method is that it requires minimal product handling, which significantly reduces the risk of damage or breakage within the warehouse.
Putting away best practices
- Have a clear warehouse layout down to the BIN level. This will make it easier to allocate space for storing items. If you are not tracking or making notes of where each unique product is being placed, you will have to rely on the knowledge and memory of the workers. While this might work for very small operations, the larger your warehouse stock, the more difficult the operation.
- Put away the products the same day it is received, because not doing so affects space, causes congestion, increases transaction errors, and makes the product more susceptible to damage. In a busy warehouse, it is easy to let product allocation fall behind other tasks such as picking, shipping, and loading. Pulling away resources from receiving tasks can affect the filling rates by not having the product in the picking racks. This can bring about congestion in staging areas that overflow into the aisles. Delaying putting away products may also result in product damage as the merchandise is moved, again and again, to make way for higher priority receipts.
- Use a warehouse management system (WMS) to manage travel time from receiving to storage areas, picking locations, and replenishment areas so that the best put away route can be selected. The end result is travel paths that are sequenced based on the shortest route for the product in the load, with reduced aisle conflicts and congestion.
- Identify products using some kind of bar coded or RFID tag. Product identification labels, zone or location labels, and pallet license plates should all be used in the put away process.
- Count items before they are allocated. When a new product arrives at the receiving dock, you should appoint a specific member of your team to count it and verify that all products have been received. Where many warehouses go wrong is ending the counting process here. The product should be counted a second time as the worker places it on the shelf. Knowing where items are is important, but having an idea of the current quantity is essential.
- Keep the warehouse clean and organized. While this point may go without saying, you would be surprised how many warehouses are not particularly clean or organized. This truly makes all the difference in efficiently putting away process, and should not be taken lightly. A cluttered or disorganized warehouse will have an immediate impact on the amount of time it takes to put a product away, and locate it later on. Even if you are using the most modern warehouse technology and have a streamlined process, your warehouse has to be kept clean and organized to guarantee efficiency.
Benefits of a well-structured put away process
Putting away the incoming products based on the best practices and with adequate methodology not only results in a smooth receiving process but also optimization of the whole warehouse operation. These are some of the direct benefits.
- No errors in product allocation and optimizing storage space thanks to the established layout.
- Accurate registration of quantities and SKUs received due to counting twice.
- Minimal travel time and cost from the receiving area to the assigned location and later for picking.
- Minimize Damaged Items in the process because storage is made as soon as the order is received.
I hope this article has been helpful. I will continue to publish information related to Warehouse Management, distribution practices and trends, and the general economy. If you are interested in this article or want to learn more about Laceup Solutions, register to keep you updated on future articles.
You can also watch this video related to the topic