Omnichannel Micro-fulfillment Blog

No matter what business line, when a segment of the industry doubles in scope, decision-makers need to take notice. According to research from eMarketer, e-commerce in the U.S. and Canada has seen a 129% year-over-year growth from April 2019 to April 2020. A study by Shopify expects e-commerce sales to reach $4.2 trillion by the end of the year.

Consumer behavior is changing, and each aspect of the retail supply chain needs to adapt. “Doing what always has been done” is not a sustainable strategy during a time of rapid change. In adapting to e-commerce, warehouses and distribution centers are combating SKU proliferation and shorter cycle times, combined with different pick processes required to meet increased consumer expectations. Without adapting, it can be challenging to get products out the door.

So, how can these businesses adapt?

Omnichannel Fulfillment Strategies

Before the rise of e-commerce, most distribution centers were set up for business-to-business (B2B) shipping strategies. Workers could build pallets with regularly-ordered products without a need for dynamism in order fulfillment. While some centers were beginning to adapt to the smaller orders with quicker lead times, their core business model has changed with the uncertainty in 2020.

Thus, omnichannel fulfillment became an answer. Omni-channel fulfillment happens when technology enables the fulfillment of B2C orders from multiple different locations inventory may be located throughout the supply chain. The B2C is growing at a rapid pace and supply chains need to be flexible or agile enough to fulfill the order at the lowest cost for the retailer, combined with the best service for the customer. They need to find that “sweet spot” in between profitability and rapid response.

What has changed most, though, is the necessity for these companies to know everywhere that product is in the supply chain – from the brick-and-mortar retail stores to even shipping directly from a manufacturer. Thanks to special software and technology, companies can know where a product is at all times – and the cost associated with delivering it — because they may need to use that specific item in fulfilling an order, no matter where it is in the supply chain.

For instance, in any place that inventory is housed, you need to determine the least costly fulfillment method to maximize profitability by finding a mix of the lowest cost to fulfill the order and the best chance to meet expectations. Today, companies need to know that answer, even if that solution does not come from their own warehouse.

Now, fulfillment centers need to know the costs associated with each element of the supply chain to minimize fulfillment costs – including even their suppliers’ warehouses. Currently, orders could come from a brick-and-mortar store, and they could come from a warehouse or come from a supplier directly. When adjusting to facilitate more e-commerce, the most successful companies will need to have visibility on all potential fulfillment opportunities supply-chain-wide. Ultimately, they need to know the lowest cost to meet the customer’s expectation level.

From a picking standpoint, the goal is all about being able to support these processes in portions of the supply chain not previously used for fulfillment activities. This may lead to new equipment or technology requirements to allow these portions of the supply chain to efficiently fulfill orders in addition to the other supply chain functions they handle. So, the optimized supply chain needs to be equally as flexible as the environments from which their orders arise are.

The ability to facilitate this operational flexibility in multiple different types of environments takes creativity and in-depth knowledge of equipment & technology options. You need to be able to come up with a cohesive strategy, which can be challenging. We encourage you to talk to a Storage Solution expert; we know retail strategies and “e-tail” strategies, and we know how to merge them in the name of efficiency.

Through any facility where inventory is stored, there are impacts on storage methods and workflows within the facility. When you are executing on omnichannel fulfillment, it takes a strategy specifically designed for your products and order patterns. We are here to help you execute on those strategies!

Micro-Fulfillment Strategies

A Micro-fulfillment center is a small fulfillment facility that is strategically placed near urban centers. Instead of a warehouse operating out of a massive facility spread out throughout the country, these businesses use multiple smaller hubs in each region. From there, the product is delivered directly to the end-user.

As with the shift in omnichannel fulfillment, this change in strategy helps to shorten delivery times to meet the same-day or next-day delivery offered by competitors. These centers hold the company’s most popular SKUs to provide higher service levels on the most popular products. The other, less-popular orders may be in the more extensive facilities for the two-or-three-day delivery. Sometimes, these facilities may even utilize their own delivery fleet to ensure the quickest distribution.

While micro-fulfillment may not be for every business, we see that larger retailers may be utilizing some of their shopping or storage space to act like a micro-fulfillment center. Others are being developed in former shopping centers that do not have large footprints or tons of inventory on hand in the facility.

If you are missing dates and not meeting customer expectations, you could get frozen out to the competition that delivers on those expectations. With both omnichannel and micro fulfillment centers, companies are developing sustainable and scalable workflows and processes.

The good news is that we can help you figure out the right level or mix of solutions to meet your business needs. You may not require a high degree of automation. If you do, we can help, but if you can get by with a more-manual and lower-cost investment, we could help develop that. Give us a call today and let us know the challenges you are seeing, and we can talk about how changing strategies could deliver a return on investment and scalability for your business to grow.

Material Flow Assessment

How often do you take a step back and examine everything happening in your facility? How often do you really think not only about what you are doing, but who is doing it, why they are doing it, where they are doing it, when they are doing it, and how? The answer is that you are probably not doing it frequently enough.

We work with companies across the country to examine these questions – specifically regarding how products travel in, through, and out of a facility – with our Material Flow Assessments. These assessments can offer insight into your throughput rates, labor challenges, and process optimization as we take our wealth of engineering and operations knowledge and apply it to custom-designed solutions built specifically to help you address your business challenges.

As a material handling integrator and a full-service warehouse equipment provider with design capabilities, we are uniquely positioned to examine how products can flow into a facility, get stored, then shipped out, and how to maximize all aspects of that process.

Any distribution center that does not utilize automation is an ideal candidate for a material flow assessment. However, even fulfillment centers that adopt the latest and most significant technological advances may not be operating to their fullest potential.

Ultimately, you may need a material flow assessment if…

…Your fulfillment center canot meet the required volume that customers are now demanding. With the rise of e-commerce, orders are coming in faster and smaller than ever, and fulfillment centers can struggle to make that shift from shipping pallets worth of products out to handling broken case picking and individual shipping. For some, that means an entire business model shift. For others, it may just mean taking a look at how your products come in and move throughout your facility.

…You cannot internally justify investments in new technology or material handling equipment. No fair assessment can be complete without offering advice for further action. With every evaluation we provide, we also include a business case to adopt any new storage medium or technology. We consider this a ‘roadmap to ROI,’ a document that can shed some light on when your investment will start paying off. It may be sooner than you think.

…You know your processes are not entirely efficient, and you don’t know where to start. This situation is a common challenge for warehouses and fulfillment centers at any stage. You know that you need to change, but you do not know which direction you should take. That hesitancy is usual, especially for taking on a new initiative like material flow optimization. That is why you contact Storage Solutions – we have the experience to help you take that first step toward examining your operations.

Now What?

Most fulfillment centers have some need for improvement in terms of material flow, even more so now that e-commerce is rising at the rate it is. We would love to have one of our expert team members tour your facility, learn about the challenges you are facing, and provide you with a roadmap to improve these inefficiencies.

Each day without an optimized material flow within your facility costs hard dollars associated with the additional labor costs you see, along with the soft costs that come with sub-optimal spacing, flow, and unnecessary touches. However, by agreeing to conduct a material flow assessment with Storage Solutions, you are putting the first foot forward to solving your operational challenges.

Storage Solutions for Third-Party Logistics Firms

One of the most common challenges we encounter with our third-party logistics (3PL) clients involves the ever-diminishing time expectation between when an end-user orders a product and when they think it should be at their door. To meet challenges associated with this trend, 3PL firms are consistently looking at ways to decrease pick time through storage and fulfillment processes.

For the uninitiated, the Material Handling Industry glossary defines a third-party logistics firm as “a business arrangement whereby logistics services, often including warehousing, are contracted to an independent business that specializes in such services and is not connected through direct ownership to the producer or factory requiring the service.”

Because a 3PL’s mission is to maintain profitable logistical operations of fulfillment within the facility – while not taking ownership of the products themselves – 3PL firms tend to prefer flexibility, scalability, and versatility. Typically, 3PLs are working on relatively short-term contracts with their clients (on average 1-5 years), so they want the ability to use the equipment for their current client on their next job.

3PLs are usually storing products for companies that fulfill small orders (for example, retail or e-commerce). This type of fulfillment is typically labor-intensive and costly, so finding the right mix of storage solutions is critical for optimizing operations. However, because their clients are frequently changing or renewing, 3PLs prefer standard solutions that can apply across various industries to allow these firms to be versatile in accommodating multiple pallets in multiple sizes if a client leaves or does not renew.

So, what are the standard storage solutions for 3PL? Let’s take a look:

Pallet Racking

Pallet rack is overwhelmingly the most common storage medium for 3PL firms. Traditionally, most of the industry will use a configuration of pallet rack at 54″ H x 40″ W x 48″ D with 2500-lb capacity beams, which covers most storage applications. That size is also ideal for shipping, as it allows shippers to be more efficient because they can optimally cube out a truck at that size with double-stacked pallets.

Small Parts Storage Solutions

To cover small parts storage, 3PLs rely on a massive amount of shelving and hand stack racks in their facilities. The products required to be most accessible will typically be at the floor-level, so sometimes those shelves are created by adding additional beam levels on the rack that currently exists (along with wire decking) to allow for optimal storage. If you do not have the racking above the shelving, you sacrifice valuable vertical storage space within the facility.

If more than one level of small parts storage is required, then we involve bin mezzanines. However, there are additional costs – both hard and soft — whenever other levels are constructed. Outside of the hard costs of the decking, lighting, sprinklers, etc., there is the soft cost of the additional travel time for the picker associated with the 2nd or 3rd level.

Vertical Reciprocating Conveyor (VRC)

When we introduce multiple levels within a 3PL facility, we typically enlist a vertical reciprocating conveyor (VRC) to assist with moving single-load products vertically for storage or for picking. They can carry pallets, carts, cartons, or products to pickers or for storage on different levels, saving travel time associated with walking up and down stairs. VRCs can be assembled using single or double masts, single or double rails, and even some models can travel on an incline/decline grade versus solely traveling perpendicularly to the floor.

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

Because of the high cost and rigidity of traditional automation solutions, which are great for specialized, static retrieval and storage, most 3PLs avoid installing them. However, there are great on-demand automation solutions like autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) that can offer a great deal of support to 3PL facilities. AMR solutions are very portable, reconfigurable, and can be reprogrammed in a matter of hours versus the days or weeks it could take to disassemble and reconfigure some of the more extensive, static storage options. AMRs can improve pick speeds, lower labor costs, and provide other safety matters within most fulfillment operations. Plus, as needs change and the business grows over time, these solutions can scale and grow along with the organization.

Safety Solutions for Third-Party Logistics Firms

As with any installation, we recommend thinking through the safety of the employees, facility, and equipment within the design. After all, safety should be part of your operational philosophy, not just a mandate or requirement. When a project comes up, we provide warehouse safety solutions like mirrors, guard rails, signage, end-of-rack protectors, end-of-aisle protectors, and anything else that may be pertinent to operational safety. At the design and strategy stage, these can be afterthoughts, but we recommend getting everything you need when you begin designing storage solutions for 3PLs.

What’s Next?

While most 3PLs utilize some combination of the storage solutions listed above, we still see operations that require more robust set-ups like traditional conveyors, drive-in racking, and pushback rack. The size of the investment is typically determined by the client paying for the equipment.

Our team has decades of combined experience working with 3PLs across the country to deliver better storage options, quicker fulfillment processes, and greater order accuracy. We know that finding the right answer usually involves finding scalable, flexible, and portable solutions, all while being cost-effective.

We take that approach to every aspect of the fulfillment process, from storage and racking to the facility’s flow. If your third-party logistics operations could use a tune-up, give us a call today and let one of our experts learn about the challenges you face and provide solutions designed around your business’s unique needs.

Facility Safety Survey

Facility safety surveys can be an excellent avenue for warehouses, fulfillment centers, and distribution centers to lower long-term costs by keeping employees, equipment, and your facility in optimal conditions. In many ways, maintaining a facility can be quite like maintaining a car or a home. The longer you wait to perform that maintenance or conduct regular examinations, the more likely, the smaller problems will turn into extensive, costly repairs.

By scheduling a facility safety survey, you are not just looking at developing a checklist of tasks to ensure your people, equipment, and facility stay safe and operational, but you are creating a roadmap to improve your building’s long-term health everything inside of it. Our experts will work with you to develop both short-and-long-term goals that align with common safety standards found within these facilities.

How Often Should You Conduct a Facility Safety Survey?

Per standards put forth by the Rack Manufacturers Institute (RMI), rack inspections should be performed on an annual basis, at the very least. However, more frequent inspections are recommended in facilities with racking in high traffic areas, narrow aisles, transfer aisles, cold environments, or that features equipment with prior damage – even as often as once per month.

That RMI-recommended cadence is generally a great starting point for any facility safety survey, but we can work with you to find the best rhythm for regular visits. For instance, if you are a facility that changes beam levels often, you may need additional safety check-ins because if those changes were not involved in the original design and permitting process, you could create a situation in which the rack becomes structurally unsound. Ultimately, the determination for how often you should conduct a facility safety survey will depend on your activity level and the products stored in your facility, two variables that are unique to your operations.

What Happens During a Facility Safety Survey?

In addition to a rack safety survey, we will also look at opportunities to add safety equipment like mirrors, end-of-aisle protectors, guard rails, and more. We will look at equipment, wires, and any damage caused by forklift drivers on uprights, beams, and columns. Typically, if we find many opportunities for new safety implementations, we schedule visits as frequently as monthly to ensure facilities are up to code as quickly as possible. Plus, if policies do not yet exist for employee safety within the warehouse, we can work with you to develop a plan that includes training to ensure best practices are in place.

After that, a Storage Solutions expert can work with you to ensure that any and all safety challenges are met with both short and long-term action plans that can combine with goals to lower operational costs and reduce labor challenges at the same time. We have decades of experience in implementing these measures across all industry types, so we have the knowledge to put theory into action.

So, Is It Time for a Facility Safety Survey?

If it has been some time since you last had a new pair of eyes looking at your facility’s safety profile, then it is time for you to call the experts. Our team can schedule a visit to your facility and share our expertise throughout our appraisal. That piece of ongoing education is crucial to our safety surveys because, by identifying and communicating potential solutions, you are more likely to have to make smaller changes in the next visit and even smaller changes in the third.

Safety is a critical aspect of any warehouse, fulfillment center, or distribution center’s operations. Taking too long before having a facility safety survey could result in higher costs with more considerable repairs, rather than maintaining your facility regularly.

The best way to create and maintain as safe an operation as possible is to have safety be a core tenet of your operational philosophy. Whether you are close to reaching that goal or need a place to start, give us a call, and we can help!

Storage-Type Analysis Blog

Finding a starting point to begin optimizing the storage capabilities within your facility can be a challenge. The most basic place to start is looking at the area between the top of your uprights and the ceiling. Why not start there? Or why not begin at the space between your product and the next beam level? Why not the distance between products?

For us, the best practice to begin this process is with a storage-type analysis. A storage-type analysis will not only offer an assessment of your current storage profile and a list of suggested changes, but it also provides a roadmap of potential projects that can lead to increased storage capacity, increased labor value, and increased efficiency that can result in profitability through additional throughput in your operations.

What Details Are Required for a Storage-Type Analysis?

For a storage-type analysis, we typically need to know the dimensions of the current storage configuration, the size of the pallets used, the size and weight of the products stored, and whether they are stored for full pallet case picking or each picking. We will also need to know the historical on-hand inventory and pick demand rate for each item, but we can help assist if that information is not readily available. Lastly, we will need to know whether certain products need to be grouped (for instance, do some products need temperature-controlled storage?).

Do not worry if all that information is not readily available. Our team can still get close to an ideal configuration with our experience and engineering teams, or we can do some detective work with a site visit.

From there, the analysis will help us determine the appropriate next steps.

Perhaps the introduction of dense storage media will allow you to minimize space between products and improve pick efficiency. Maybe a solution like a vertical lift machine would be a good fit for facilities that are storing smaller products like hardware. Perhaps introducing automation through an automated storage & retrieval (ASRS) system would benefit businesses adapting to changes in e-commerce. Maybe some of your pallet racking needs some adjustments to beam levels to go along with additional racking or shelving.

The proper solutions all depend on your unique challenges and your individual needs. We want to provide solutions that can address those challenges and conditions in the most cost-effective way possible.

What Happens at the End of a Storage-Type Analysis?

At the end of the analysis, we can help you put together a business case for potential changes with a return-on-investment attached. Once storage is optimized within a facility, it means more production space is created, which can lead to the return happening sooner than you may think.

The critical aspect to remember about a storage-type analysis is if you do not have a custom, built-only-for-your-business storage plan, you will leave money on the table as you are not fully optimized.

Whether you operate in a manufacturing environment and need to open space for additional production lines, or you are outgrowing your current space with an increased proliferation of SKUs, or your facility was outfitted with a “cookie-cutter” approach to pallet storage, there is an excellent opportunity to optimize your warehouse and improve your bottom line.

Give us a call today and speak with a Storage Solutions expert who can learn about your business and operational goals and develop balanced solutions toward achieving them.

Automated Packing Solutions Blog

As e-commerce continues to grow rapidly, fulfillment centers are exploring avenues to maintain or lower operational costs through process improvement, data-driven design, and technology solutions. For companies experiencing growth in their e-commerce fulfillment demands – or are new to e-commerce fulfillment altogether – it may be challenging to find a place to start.

The packing process is one of the more costly areas for most fulfillment centers in that stage. For the most part, freight, materials, and operational or labor costs all rise as order volume rises, and if there is no strategy in place to maintain or lower those costs, expenses can get out of hand quickly.

By investing in automated packing technology solutions, distribution centers, warehouses, and fulfillment centers can minimize these cost increases while boosting productivity, increasing fulfillment velocity, and improving your overall customer experience.

What Should I Look for with an Automated Packing Solution?

With any well-designed automated packing solution, it is essential to value the reduction of waste. Not only are you paying for material you may not be entirely using, but you are creating a messier working condition and requiring additional cleanup – two factors that can cause increases in labor costs over time.

To that end, some systems offer to automate tray forming, which allows enough material to ship the product with minimal scrap. Once the product is in the tray and any value-added services like coupons or marketing materials are included, the ideal packing solution can automatically measure and void fill an inflatable or paper cushioning to keep the product secure for shipment.
Another feature of an optimal end-of-the-line solution would include automatic lid placement and pack closure. After the lid is placed and the pack is closed, shipping information and any other required labels can be applied to the package, either by a packer or automatically by the packing solution.

Lastly, once the system is implemented, you will want to find a partner that offers ongoing customer service in the event of a disruption. The right solution partner should help you meet your customers’ needs and your operational needs long after installation. Some systems even offer remote repair and offsite monitoring, which can detect problems, perform routine maintenance, and conduct productivity analyses.

The result should showcase a product that looks similar to a product shipped from the most comprehensive e-commerce fulfillment centers, with tamper-evident, easy-to-open, and easy-to-return packaging. A right-sized package can also reduce freight costs, and customers are happy because the product is secure and delivered in line with their expectations.

Find a Custom Automated Packing Solution for Your Needs

Each business has its challenges, and the optimal solutions for those challenges genuinely depend on the organization’s distinctive needs. As part of an overall fulfillment strategy, the right automated packing solution should be uniquely designed to minimize freight, operational costs, and weight while improving productivity for a valid return on investment.

If you are interested in increasing your fulfillment velocity and meeting your customers’ demands for rapid delivery, give us a call. Our team of experts will learn about your business’s specific challenges and connect you with the right automated packing solution that best fits your operational needs.

EASY Appraisal

As fulfillment centers battle against labor challenges, increasing costs, and quicker fulfillment expectations, many explore the world of warehouse automation to lower expenses while meeting changing demand.

The problem is: where does one begin when it comes to evaluating how these tools can positively impact your operation? How does one determine which of the multitude of solutions that are available today is the right fit to meet their specific needs?

Easy Automation Appraisal LogoWith our EASY Appraisal, our team can work with you hand-in-hand to ensure the correct measures are being taken to help you achieve your goals.

Our EASY Appraisal is a simple process where our experts tour your facility and get to understand your unique operations. There, we can determine where your pain points exist, how your workflow takes place, and formulate a plan of action. Our ultimate goal is to create a business case that will deliver an ROI and set you on a path for growth.

We consider four variables into our process:

Engineering Theory: Our data driven approach to evaluating your storage and fulfillment needs.

Automation Hardware: The most appropriate systems designed for your needs, without overselling or overequipping.

Software Integration: Setting you up with the correct tools to manage these systems

Your Needs: We customize all our solutions to meet your requirements, meaning you will not get an out-of-the-box plan. We recognize each business has its own unique needs and challenges.

At an introductory level, we can deploy these solutions within hours, without the need for facility reconfiguration, IT systems, or WMS integrations. If your organization is interested in more significant automation levels, we can work with your organization to determine what is needed to meet operational challenges that can be resolved through automation.

Using our “Simple, Smart, Strategic” approach, we can work with facilities of all types to integrate automation solutions at any scale. Starting small, we design these systems to be flexible and scale as needs change.

Ready to get started?

Want to learn more? Our Solutions Engineering professionals are ready to answer any questions you may have about introducing automation into your facility. We have the expertise to deliver solutions, big or small, that can provide a return-on-investment more quickly than you may realize.

Handling Reverse Logistics and Returns

Did you know that in 2020, e-commerce represented over 16% of total global retail sales? The rise in online ordering, particularly in retail, has also brought an increase in returns.

Customers who purchase online are sacrificing the assurance that comes with purchasing in brick-and-mortar stores for the convenience of having that product delivered to their door. However, because they cannot touch the product before they buy it online – or try it on – returns are also on the rise. RetailWire estimates that returns for online purchases vary between 15 to 30 percent of total orders.

Traditionally, returns can cause headaches for fulfillment centers. Because fulfillment centers are focused on doing what they do best – fulfilling orders – returns can become an afterthought. In areas with labor shortages, they can affect labor costs within a facility and even affect service labor agreements because your staff, previously dedicated to fulfilling orders, now must handle this influx of returned products into your facility.

However, handling returns is not about just getting the product back into your facility. It is about getting it back into a forward pick location in an efficient way. In the meantime, what are you doing with the product? Is it going into reserve? Does it just sit in an area until the product needs replenishing? Often, there is no efficient way to handle them, and the cost is not often passed along to the consumer, making operations less profitable.

Large and midsize fulfillment centers often turn to third-party logistics firms to handle them on their behalf, a sometimes-costly decision. However, even companies who hired 3PL firms see those firms hire specialty firms to come in and handle returns. At what point does it make sense for you to save some costs and bring the operation in-house?

Here are three key factors when it comes down to evaluating whether to take on the challenge of reverse logistics:

  • Do you have the dedicated space? Your traditional receiving area is likely set up to accept full pallet shipments of your store’s products. However, by nature, these returns will be smaller because they are single item-versions of the pallet’s products. The size of the space you need will depend mainly on the size of the product, the volume of the product sold, the size of your facility, and the return rate of products stored.
  • Can you allocate additional labor? By handling returns in-house, fulfillment centers will need to recognize that additional labor will need to be dedicated to accommodating putting the products back into available storage. That variable will likely be significantly affected by how well your processes are designed to get this material back into a pickable location after it is received back in your facility.
  • Do you have the appropriate software? Some outdated or low-level warehouse management systems (WMS) may not have the functionality to accommodate returns, or at least they might not make it easy on your system. An integrated WMS with a scanning function that automatically puts the product back in the system must at least let your team know the returned product is back in the system, if not where it is within your facility.

Several other variables could affect this decision that will depend on your industry, facility, and order frequency. Ultimately, you will need to formulate a well-defined strategy behind this decision. The goal should be to have a closed-loop supply chain with little-to-low waste.

If you need some assistance in looking at your operations and determining whether this is a correct decision, we are here to help. We can evaluate your processes, people, and products and help you determine the equipment and workflows you would require taking on the reverse logistics challenge.

We can connect you with the appropriate equipment – from conveyor and sortation to pack stations or automatic bagging systems – and set your team up for success in this endeavor. Give us a call today!

Hidden Costs of Honeycombing

When working with our clients, we like to tour their facilities to find opportunities to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and optimize their operations. One common issue we run into is honeycombing, which is essentially dead space – horizontally or vertically – in a warehouse that results in hidden operational costs.

To be more exact in learning about this recurrent situation found in warehouses and fulfillment centers, honeycombing can result in three scenarios: (per Supply Chain Visions):

  1. The practice of removing merchandise in pallet load quantities where space is not exhausted in an orderly fashion. This results in inefficiencies due to the fact that the received merchandise may not be efficiently stored in the space which is created by the honeycombing.
  2. The storing or withdrawal of supplies in a manner that results in vacant space that is not used for storage of other items.
  3. Creation of unoccupied space resulting from the withdrawal of unit loads. This is one of the significant hidden costs of warehousing.

Honeycombing is a measure of how well a fulfillment center is using its capacity utilization. As expressed as a percentage of open space within a storage system, utilization plays a crucial role in understanding how much product should be stored.

As a guide, we typically aim for an 85% utilization. Anything above 85% can become operationally inefficient from having a lack of available locations. Anything under means you probably have too much free space that can otherwise be used to store additional products.

Typically, honeycombing is most common in dense storage systems, particularly with drive-in and drive-thru racks, which have deeper lanes with fewer picking access opportunities. However, honeycombing is also found – and is potentially more costly – in pushback, pallet flow, or other deep lane storage configurations.

Honeycombing can also be incredibly costly when we look at the food and beverage industry. Temperature-controlled storage is expensive, and managers are always looking at ways to reduce costs for storage. If their storage area is not designed correctly or optimized, the company is continuously wasting money cooling a room that is not effective in storing products.

Effective design and inventory management are required to keep costs down and operations profitable. There must be a strategy to hit that magic utilization ratio – and some analysis behind the storage design. With a simple, smart, and strategic approach to looking at honeycombing within your facility, we can help guide you to your goal of optimized storage.

If honeycombing affects your operations – and it is a good bet that it does – we would love to learn more about your operation and provide solutions that can help you reduce your costs and increase your cubic storage capacity. Give us a call today!

Buy Used Warehouse Equipment SSI Warehouse

Our goal is to assist our clients with any type of warehouse transition. We understand that selling or moving your current material handling equipment such as pallet rack, shelving, mezzanine, conveyor, etc, can provide a large headache. We would like to help you resolve that issue.

Are you closing down or consolidating one or more of your facilities?  Let us buy your used pallet rack and other material handling equipment.  Are you opening a new facility, or changing locations?  We will help you transition to a new warehouse or redesign your current one.  We can help you save money on your warehouse redesign, and we also remove the hassle of having to tear down and move all of your equipment!

Are you having trouble deciding what kind of storage equipment is best for your needs?  Contact us today to get our free recommendation for your new operation!

Here is a brief list of equipment we would be interested in purchasing:

Pallet Rack:  selective pallet rack, drive-in pallet rack, drive-thru pallet rack, pushback pallet rack, cantilever rack, wire decks, etc.

Shelving:  open steel shelving, closed steel shelving, single rivet shelving, double rivet shelving, wire shelving, etc.

Conveyor:  gravity conveyor, power conveyor, skate wheel conveyor, roller conveyor, etc.

Pallet Rack Accessories / Safety Equipment:  row spacers, pallet supports, wire decking, column protectors, end-of-aisle protectors, column deflectors, guardrails, etc.

Pick Modules, Mezzanine, & Tape Machines

Well, that just about wraps up another Storage Solutions blog session.  Don’t forget to check out the clearance section of our website.  We are constantly adding new equipment, so be sure to take a few minutes to see if there is anything that catches your eye.