Put-away is the process of moving material from the dock and transporting it to a storage, replenishment, or pick area. Best-practice companies manage the put-away area by calculating resource and space requirements based on expected receipts and current backlogs. Best practice is to put away product the same day; not doing so wastes space, causes congestion, increases transaction errors, and makes product more susceptible to damage—all of which can reduce fill rates.
The put-away process is typically managed by staging product from the receiving area, based on the purchase order, based on the part number, or based on a put-away zone or by using direct delivery to the storage location. The most efficient practice is to put-away directly from receipt to its final location and is often the primary method used in best-practice companies. This process uses the least space for staging, and product is handled less and ready for use sooner.
Direct put-away programs do require a fairly sophisticated warehouse management software (WMS) system that has the ability to assign locations from an advanced shipment notice (ASN) or upon receipt to the dock. Automated conveyor systems that are capable of sorting and diverting materials by zone and location can optimize the direct put-away process.
Best-practice companies also use their WMS to manage travel time from receiving to storage areas, pick locations, and replenishment areas so that the best put-away route can be selected. The result is put-away travel paths sequenced based on the shortest route for the product in the load, with reduced aisle conflicts and congestion.
Kate Vitasek is managing partner of Bellevue, WA-based consultancy Supply Chain Visions (www.scivisions.com.)
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