A slotting system is a software application designed to find the optimal pick location for each product in a warehouse or distribution center for the purpose of improving labor efficiency. The reason efficiency is improved is because travel time can account for 30-70% of the time spent by warehouse order selectors, and slotting minimizes the travel time required to retrieve and store products.
In many warehouses, associates store products wherever they can find a home until eventually there is little or no semblance of an efficiently run operation. In this environment, there is little rhyme or reason as to which items go where within the distribution center.
Slotting optimization identifies the most efficient storage media and pick location to assign to each item. Product slotting rules may depend on a wide variety of factors such as product family, conveyability, order line or “hit” frequency, package dimensions and weight, package size, product fragility or crushability, etc.
The art and science of warehouse slotting has been around for the past three decades yet many distribution centers continue to informally manage the slotting process through spreadsheet reports or not at all. In recent years, multiple packaged software tools have become commercially available to optimize warehouse slotting. These applications are sold as standalone tools that can be integrated into a Warehouse Management System (WMS), or as integrated extensions of WMS applications. The main benefit of having the slotting application integrated into the WMS is the ability to generate directed work tasks for associates to execute the reslotting process. A good slotting system will advise management of the labor savings associated with each slotting re-assignment so that the most lucrative reslots can be selectively performed.
There are variances between commercial slotting packages available on the market today. For example, one slotting package offers an integrated 3D AutoCAD image to visualize the facility which helps to proactively understand potential congestion points before implementing slotting changes. Some slotting packages are complicated and expensive to maintain, and end up as shelf-ware because the application becomes too time-consuming and other priorities take over. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of slotting is that a good slotting strategy has to be developed before deploying the slotting software.
MWPVL International provides consulting services to companies seeking the benefits of labor efficiency improvements through advanced slotting. MWPVL International works with suppliers, customers and business partners to provide unbiased slotting consulting services that address the following types of questions:
- How should our company organize the products within our distribution center(s) to minimize the labor effort required to perform order picking and storage functions.
- Which product family groupings and slotting strategies make sense for our distribution operation to maximize labor efficiency, to minimize product damage, and to ensure safe ergonomics?
- Does our firm require a commercial slotting software application? Can a spreadsheet approach be used and if so what reports are needed to get the job done?
- Which slotting software application is best-suited for our company and financial budget?
- What is the economic business case for investing in a slotting application? What are the total capital investment requirements including internal and external resource requirements? What financial benefits or competitive advantage can our company realistically expect to obtain from a new slotting application?
- What are the main features and functions that our company should expect from a slotting application?
- What are the main differences between the commercial slotting applications available within the market place? Which vendors should our company consider evaluating based on our operating profile and warehouse-specific requirements?
- Is there a structured process that our company should follow when selecting a slotting application to ensure due diligence and to protect our interests?
MWPVL International provides strictly unbiased consulting services and trusted experience in helping companies with:
- Developing a slotting strategy from the ground up to maximize efficiency, safety, and quality
- Developing the economic business case and financial justification for a Slotting application
- Slotting requirements definition and RFP development
- Development of structured software demonstration scripts
- Vendor/solution evaluation and selection
- Software negotiation and acquisition
- Developing the project budget, plan, schedule, internal and external resource requirements for deployment
- Project management.