Expert Insight: Guest Contribution

by Don Gonzales, Director of Systems Sales, Remstar

  April 29, 2008  

Cost Effective Medium & Slower Velocity Item Order Picking and Consolidation Methods

  Carousels and Vertical Lift Modules Often the Smart Choice for Medium and Slow Velocity Movers  
Gonzales Says:
The important thing to remember is, no one material handling technology, hardware nor software, is “the solution.”

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One of the most overlooked and easily solved issues in a warehouse is the handling of medium and slower velocity items. Unmanaged, medium and slower velocity movers will occupy the largest percentage of a facility’s floor space and a disproportionate amount of labor to handle.

Improving these two factors (space and labor) will provide a substantial ROI.

Order Picking: The first problem is floor space. How do we reduce it? Simply by profiling inventory by size and velocity, we can create a work zone of similar slow and medium moving items. In many warehouses, the medium and slower movers can account for as much as 80% of the total SKUs.

So what material handling equipment can provide dramatic floor space savings: carousels and Vertical Lift Modules (VLMs). They save up to 85% of the floor space by optimizing space in as little as 1-inch increments and using otherwise wasted overhead space.

Carousels and VLMs can reduce labor costs by up to 2/3 by automatically bringing every item to the operator and eliminating wasted walk and search time. Likewise, batch picking multiple orders simultaneously using the integrated pick-to-light technology becomes a very simple process.

With the dramatic savings in floor space and labor, it is not uncommon to see carousel and VLM systems generate an ROI of 9 to 18 months and allow facilities to use the newly generated resources to maximize value added opportunities and corporate growth.

Consolidation: An integrated consolidation work zone using horizontal carousels and put-to-light flow rack create new and dynamic opportunities. These systems are ideal for medium and slower velocity range order picking operations, which require flexibility that conveyor systems can’t provide. Carousel and put-to-light flow rack systems can allow hundreds of open orders at a time without a problem and at a fraction of the cost, floor space and labor of conveyor and sorter type solutions.

The important thing to remember is, no one material handling technology, hardware nor software, is “the solution.” By realizing that it’s all about order profiling and determining common size and velocity characteristics, you can then create benchmark setting order picking and consolidation methodologies to meet your facilities needs.

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