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dense storage solutions

As a natural byproduct of business cycles, warehouses need to be flexible as storage needs ebb and flow. During periods of economic growth, these warehouses need to find ways to increase capacity without increasing the facility size. Similarly, as a result of new equipment or new inventory profiles, managers are often tasked with finding ways to decrease their layout’s footprint while maintaining (or even increasing) their storage capacity.

In our experience, many small-to-medium-sized companies are unfamiliar with the benefits of introducing dense storage solutions. Often, these companies are more familiar with a traditional, selective pallet rack option. Depending on your inventory, there may be an opportunity to install dense storage racking at this stage of a business cycle. But first, before you evaluate those options, managers should make sure they design the optimal plan.

Perform a Facility Design Assessment

Whatever steps you decide to take, know that your best bet for an optimal result may begin with a complete facility design assessment. Our experts can look at your layout and provide suggestions for the optimal design for your operation. Our experts can help you take the guesswork out of the process.

Integrate Smart Slotting Data

Primarily, Smart Slotting introduces a data-centric approach to optimizing your picking process. The tool measures operational and storage costs against the volume of your picking demand to give you the optimal inventory slotting strategy. However, this approach also improves your ability to increase capacity by moving SKUs to the best possible storage media types.

Are You Ready for Dense Storage Solutions?

If you have large quantities of pallets on hand for each item you are storing, dense storage may be right for you. Let’s look at the options:

  • Pushback: These are systems in which pallets are stored on a cart system on a slight pitch so pallets can gravity flow back down to the front location as pallets are removed from the system. Pushback racking is ideal for Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) inventory systems or First-In, First-Out (FIFO) inventory for larger lot/date code SKUs. These systems often utilize nested carts, which make the placement and retrieval of products easy.
  • Pallet FlowPallet flow rack is an ideal option for warehouses that operate on a First-In, First Out (FIFO) inventory system & have large quantities of pallets on hand per SKU. This flexible racking system can be designed to your desired depth to maximize your capacity & utilization of the storage system. Pallet flow systems are customizable and uniquely designed for your products.
  • Drive-In / Drive-Thru: Drive-In and Drive-Thru racking are similar in that they increase storage density & require fewer aisles in your warehouse. The main difference between the two is Drive-In racking is accessible via forklift by one end. Drive-Thru racking is accessible from both ends. Drive-In & Drive-Thru racking work best for operations with really large quantities of pallets on hand per item. The best applications have the same SKU stored from the ground to the top & from the front to the back in each lane of the storage system. To keep utilization high, it is also ideal to have multiple lanes of Drive-In or Drive-Thru racking filled with the same item.
  • Semi-Automated Deep Lane Systems: These systems allow an operator to utilize a semi-automated cart to move packages into dense storage racking. This system can integrate perfectly with both LIFO and FIFO inventory systems. Semi-automated deep lane systems are often 25-40 pallets deep & work great for operations that have lots of pallets on hand per SKU & relatively high throughput requirements. These modern systems are fast and extremely easy to use, also utilizing green technology to operate.

Whenever you are ready to talk about your dense storage solutions, we are here for you. To get started, contact us and we can look at your inventory profile and share how our design-based solutions can increase storage space and ultimately increase your warehouse’s capacity.

design-solutions-sku-proliferation

There are few industries that are not affected by SKU proliferation. Within industries ranging from consumer goods to life science, there are a number of supply chain complexities that come with an increase in SKUs. Typically, SKU proliferation results after a company acquisition or a new product launch. Alternatively, SKU proliferation may occur as a result of adding new varieties of current offerings or changes in seasonal demand.

SKU proliferation can cause headaches for warehouse managers who now need to anticipate new order frequencies and volumes. To combat SKU proliferation, should you completely reorganize your warehouse? Should you make minor adjustments and re-evaluate later? Where and when should you begin?

You Always Start From the Start.

The best way to battle SKU proliferation – and the inefficiencies caused by not optimizing your setup – is to start with the right design solution. The right design solution will match your storage capacity with your inventory profile, taking into account the dynamics of the optimal pick process.

By beginning with a Facility and Storage Assessment, you set yourself up for success by engineering a game plan before any action takes place. Also, we take into account other variables that can affect the optimal performance of a warehouse. Typically, we talk to clients about trends they see with smaller shipping packages, changes in service expectations, and other external factors that can reshape a distribution network. 

What Else Should You Factor In?

Also, this is a great time to introduce Smart Slotting to our clients. Smart Slotting uses factors such as labor costs, space costs, replenishment costs, and equipment costs to provide you with the most efficient inventory slotting plan. All operational costs are taken into account to define the lowest possible throughput cost per item for your facility. This

We have found that examining all variables at this stage leads to a more efficient warehouse. Ultimately, the right answer comes from taking a step back and taking a look at “the forest, not the trees.” At this point, warehouse managers need to ask themselves: Is now the right time to introduce automation? Do you need to increase dense storage? Are you running out of shelving space?

Ask the Experts.

Storage Solutions experts are here to answer these questions. We have the knowledge and experience to tailor the right solution to suit your needs. Especially if your warehouse does not have an industrial engineer on staff (and not many do), the correct answer may not occur naturally. However, the right answer will likely come from an expert who knows the ins and outs of facility redesign. It comes from making changes based on where demand from your customers is shifting. 

More often than not, we hear clients say, “I am running out of storage space.” Our answer is typically, “Are you? How well are you using the space you have?” 

The answer is not always rocket science. However, the right solution usually is simple, smart, and strategic. That is what we are here to do: Connect you with that solution. Contact us today to get started! 

reduce-labor-disruptions-with-tech

By nature, warehouse operation managers are skilled problem solvers. The best of these managers can quell many disruptions with quick, efficient on-their-feet decisions. Planning plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth operation. However, there will always be plenty of unforeseen hurdles to overcome, especially when it comes to labor disruptions.

No operation runs at 100% efficiency, without disruption. Even the best managers are going to come across underperformance from their teams. They will also need to overcome outdated design and other challenges that may come with traditional labor. Reducing these inefficiencies allow managers to make fewer, more thoughtful decisions by nature because they won’t be distracted by preventable disruptions.

If you are among those experiencing these issues, know that there are many flexible, cost-effective technology solutions available.

Technology Solutions for Your Operations

  1. Integrate Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). AMRs work in collaboration with human labor to achieve optimal production efficiency without the need for costly facility renovations. As a Certified Fetch Solutions Provider, we can work with you to design workflows that can be easily adjusted thanks to their cloud-based software, FetchCore. Thanks to their built-in sensors, these robots can also dynamically follow a map, allowing for an optimal travel route.
  2. Begin Smart Slotting Your Inventory. Smart Slotting is a warehouse slotting optimization tool that factors in operational, space, replenishment, equipment costs, storage mediums, and more variables to define the lowest-cost operational plan for your facility. With Smart Slotting, we can take the guesswork out of facility layout by calculating the impact that potential changes will make before implementing them.
  3. Install Pick-to-Light and Put-to-Light Solutions. Because they use the same hardware and software, warehouses can utilize both Pick-to-Light and Put-to-Light Solutions to automate various fulfillment processes. The main goal of both systems is to give you the ability to pack and ship more orders in less time while reducing errors.
  4. Implement Warehouse Execution Systems. A Warehouse Execution System (WES) is a software solution that directs all processes that occur in a distribution center. This system will prioritize work in a way to optimize fulfillment while keeping your facility streamlined. These systems are ideal for operations with less-robust WMS or ERP support. Also, these systems may let you introduce zone or batch-picking to your pick process. This benefit is not possible through some Warehouse Management Systems (WMS).

Whatever the level of consistency you have in labor costs, it can increase with the implementation of technology solutions. Contact us today and let’s talk about what might be right for your operation.

Fetch Robotics Smart Slotting

One of the hidden costs of warehouse operations is inefficiency. Because there is no line-item on the operating statement associated with suboptimal performance, the costs associated with unnecessary wear-and-tear, unneeded turnover, and the growing gap between what you are doing and your competitors’ performance. Sometimes, these inefficient processes go untended for too long.

What is the value of your warehouse efficiency? What is it worth to improve your storage utilization by more than 70%? How much longer is your business going to wait for data to drive your processes?

Warehouse picking is about balancing what has to be done manually with areas where automation can be cost-justified.

At the end of the day, warehouse optimization is all about balancing workloads within picking zones. Every bottleneck or delay in picking causes the next action to be delayed. When you take into account the number of picks per day, week, and month, the total can begin to add up in the wrong way. Especially for operators who lack good balance throughout their picking areas.

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) provide a great flexible and scalable solution to automate picking. However, one big challenge of all AMR solutions is the need to balance workload throughout all pick zones. The easiest and most cost-effective way to address this balance is with a good slotting plan.

By combining Fetch Robotics’ On-Demand Automation services solutions and Storage Solutions’ Smart Slotting, warehouses can experience unmatched efficiency in their picking processes.

How Does It Work?

To begin, Storage Solutions will evaluate your current process and layout. Using our special slotting tool, Storage Solutions establishes a “heat map” of your most popular SKUs. From there, we evaluate costs associated with space, replenishment, and equipment to provide you with the most productive solution possible. It is all based on data — not guessing or assuming.

In short, we use the information to configure the SKUs you pick the most to be as efficient as possible. And, we spread them evenly throughout all pick zones to avoid bottlenecks and maximize productivity.

From there, once the proper inventory slotting plan has been established, we work with our Fetch Robotics team to ensure the optimal workflow is put into place.

Finding the right balance

Fetch Robotics is an industry leader in On-Demand Automation. As a Fetch Certified Solutions provider, we offer dynamic, flexible solutions to make the most out of every square foot. Autonomous mobile robots are designed to be deployed into any facility, as is – without adding physical infrastructure or installing IT systems, built to any scale with flexibility to change on the fly.

We work with your footprint to get the most products out of your door in the most cost-effective way. Also, we design with flexibility to adapt to ever-changing business needs and scalability for your company to grow.

Less wear and tear

With Smart Slotting, you can make the best use of some of your biggest capital investments: your material handling equipment. Many other slotting systems only take into account the total distance traveled in the picking process. Smart Slotting assigns dollars to your data, measuring labor, materials, equipment, storage mediums, and more. Then, we define and implement the lowest-cost operating plan for your facility.

Let’s say your environment changes, given new demand or a new set of orders. We can reoptimize the inventory slotting plan at any time. We would only need a new data set.

Lower labor costs per pick

By placing the most-selected items in the easiest-to-access areas of your warehouse, you physically move less. Imagine the savings in labor costs and efforts by doing the most repeated tasks more efficiently, every time. We also have the ability to factor in seasonal spikes to account for times in which you may be moving more products.

Want to learn more about how Smart Slotting works? Read our latest case study and success story here.

While You Wait

While you continue operating with inefficiencies, the world is changing. The “Amazon Effect” is real. The highest-performing warehouses are constantly re-evaluating and optimizing.
While you are addressing your warehouse’s labor shortages, your competitors are reducing their turnaround times and adjusting to a new demand model.

By combining Smart Slotting with a Fetch Robotics solution, you are setting your warehouse up for success both in the short-term and long-term. You are using data, technology, and automation to achieve maximum efficiency as soon as possible, all while factoring in future growth potential.

The decision does not have to be made today. However, the process can start at any time. Click here, hit the chat button below, or call us at 317-449-8740 and one of our experts can get begin to determine your workflow needs.

Project Spotlight Smart Slotting

You may have heard us mention our new Smart Slotting tool recently. In this project, the customer came to us looking for an answer to their low storage utilization percentage of 20% across the entire facility. With Smart Slotting, we were able to provide a practical answer to this problem, while also increasing productivity and efficiency.

By collecting some preliminary data, our experienced team uses Smart Slotting to provide a layout that best suits your needs. This new layout provides you lower operating cost, while also increasing the daily throughput of your facility.

In this example, the customer saw over a 12% decrease in their daily labor costs. They were able to find a location for all of their SKUs, and raise their storage utilization numbers over 70%. In addition, they were able to cut their storage mediums in half after the Smart Slotting evaluation. The new location types and sizes designed for stored items is much more efficient and simple.

This project had a significant impact on the customer’s operation by improving space utilization, reducing labor costs, and increasing throughput to lower operating costs. The new storage configuration also set the customer up with space for product growth for a minimum of five years.

Interested in learning more about the methodology and analysis behind this project? View the full case study here and contact us today to see how we can assist with your operational needs.

Workplace Productivity Increase with Ergonomics

We often examine the positive effects an efficient warehouse design can have on your operation, but what does it mean for your employees? When it comes to warehouse productivity, one of the main components of keeping your facility moving is keeping employees safe. Taking small adjustments into account when setting up your warehouse can be huge for your employees in the long run.

Warehouse Ergonomics

Part of keeping your employees safe is keeping them comfortable. One way to do this is by storing items at the optimal level to reduce strain on pickers. Along with keeping items at a certain level, another aspect of warehouse ergonomics is keeping highly selected items around the same area to lower foot traffic in the facility.

Another way to keep your employees in good health is to integrate some type of automation within your facility. Automation will help you decrease the foot traffic needed to transport goods to all parts of your warehouse. Less exertion means fewer ergonomic issues down the line, helping you keep your staff healthy and comfortable. This will also assist with your overall warehouse productivity as well, which makes it an all-around win.

How We Can Help?

When it comes to keeping high pick volume items in the same area, we offer our newest service, Smart Slotting. This inventory slotting tool takes all of the data provided, such as picking and replenishment rates for different SKUs, and will give you the blueprint to optimize your space and help cut down on unnecessary movement around your facility.

Another way to support ergonomics is through automation. We offer a variety of dynamic solutions that can help with cutting down strenuous movement and wasted time. This includes powered conveyor to move items with ease throughout the facility, and Vertical Lift Machines (VLMs) to allow for fast and ergonomic picking with almost no walking being required.

Another dynamic solution we offer is Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). AMRs give your employees the ability to stay in one area to work as opposed to moving around the facility. This keeps employees out of the way off forklifts and other machinery moving throughout the warehouse.

Want to learn more about how we can help you keep your facility safe and productive? Click here for more information on our Dynamic Solutions.

design solution process

Here at Storage Solutions, you may know us as the “pallet rack guys”, but the truth is we offer much more than just storage equipment. One area that we have expanded on quite a bit recently is our Design Solution process. We’ve always had a team of experts in place to help you create a design layout that is right for your facility, and that isn’t changing. However, we are excited that in recent years we have grown that team to allow us to offer more complex design capabilities.

Design Solution Processes & Offerings

One way that we can work side by side with you for your design needs is our C-A-R-E-S process. Through this process, we can point out specific operational challenges and ways to address those challenges. We will also help you prepare for future growth or change that you will inevitably face down the line. The C-A-R-E-S process is a customer-focused process in which we do the following:

  • Collect data
  • Analyze the data
  • Recommend alternatives
  • Execute the solution
  • Support the new system

Another design solution offering is our latest tool, Smart Slotting. This warehouse slotting optimization tool can help you address the ever-changing demands of customers, increases in labor costs, and other inefficiencies causing challenges within your warehouse. Not only will this tool offer a proven, cost-saving analysis, but it can all be accomplished very easily by working with our team to collect the appropriate data.

In addition to these design tools, we also offer a variety of other options to address pain points within your operation. These services include storage assessments, overall facility assessments, material flow assessments, and more. We also can work with you to create a complete facility design for your operation. Regardless of what your needs are, our Design Solutions team will help take the guesswork out of it all.

Does our warehouse design solution sound like something that may help fix some of the bottlenecks in your current operation? Learn more about our Design Solution offerings here!