Warehousing activities relate to receiving, storing, and shipping materials to and from production and distribution locations.
3.6.1 Warehouse layout
Warehouses often are configured to have formal storage locations that identify the row, rack section, level, and shelf location, typically with an alphanumeric location bar code or label. For example, the location label B3A4 would identify Row B, pallet section 3, shelf A, and shelf location 4.
Fixed versus random storage locations. This refers to whether items are permanently assigned to a location or the assignments are made dynamically as space is freed. Often some combination of both methods is used.
Fixed locations. Fixed locations are appropriate for high-volume picking. Fixing locations, along with logical location slotting—placing high-turn items closest to packing and shipping areas—enables a warehouse to be configured to reduce picking and put away times, saving transportation within the warehouse.
Random locations. Random locations are appropriate where travel distances are not an important consideration and when overall utilization of warehouse space is important. Random locations are often used for high-variety storage. Computers
often manage this process.
3.6.2 Material movement
Material movement inside a warehouse is governed primarily by the type of product being stored. Cube size and weight are factors, as are storage and shipping configurations. Examples of equipment used for material movement include:
- forklifts to move and lift pallets of materials into and out of storage units.
- pallet jacks to move pallets of materials short distances for loading and unloading trucks and case picking onto pallets.
- pick carts to handpick single items and small case picks.
- conveyors to move cases or single items from place to place within a warehouse from pick locations to a packing area. Items can be placed into totes or boxes to facilitate movement on the conveyor. The conveyor can also be used to put case stock away.
- automatic material handling systems, which apply technology in the form of warehouse management systems and bar code scanners to conveyor systems in order to move and sort items within a warehouse. When picking is complete, the system directs items to the correct packing station or loading dock.