Effective Warehouse Operations – Best Practices in Putting Away Material
Last month, we discussed best practices in receiving material. This month our discussion of efficient warehousing practices moves on to putting away stock after it is properly received. The goals of the “putaway” process include:
- Quickly getting material from the receiving department to where it can be effectively utilized. That is, minimizing “dock to stock” time.
- Putting away material in such a way to facilitate filling orders and other disbursements.
- Ensure that stock is rotated. That is, outgoing orders are filled on a “FIFO” (i.e., first-in, first-out) basis. This procedure will help keep all of your inventory in salable or usable condition.
Many organizations put away stock receipts, one at a time, as material is checked in through the receiving process. This can lead to multiple trips to one area of a warehouse in a short period of time. It is far more effective to create a putaway staging area. Material that will be stored in a designated area of the warehouse is accumulated on a specific pallet or in a specific bin in the putaway area as stock receipts are processed. On a scheduled basis, this inventory is moved to its designated area of the warehouse and put away in its designated bin location.
Here are some guidelines for developing your organization’s putaway process:
- Putaway activities should be performed by receiving personnel, your most technically knowledgeable employees. After all, it is difficult to find a product if it is placed in an incorrect bin location.
- All material in the putaway area should be moved to its proper bin location by the end of every business day. That is, the putaway section of the warehouse must be totally empty before any stock receipts are processed the following morning.
- Before being moved to its proper bin location, quantities of each item located in the putaway area listed on backorders will be pulled to fill those orders. This will avoid the “double handling” of material.
- While putting away material, if an employee discovers misplaced, mislabeled, or damaged material, he/she will note the problem on the warehouse “white board”. Entries on the white board should include the bin location as well as the item that needs attention. The employee responsible for maintaining order in that particular aisle or section of the warehouse should correct these situations before leaving for the day.
- When putting away stock receipts, many organizations fill up the primary bin locations first and then put the balance of products in secondary or bulk storage locations. This method procedure works well with moderate and slow-moving products.
However, putaway activities at the primary bin for a fast moving product may interfere with other employees picking orders for that item, or other fast moving products stored near that item. To avoid this situation, many of our clients will always place stock receipts for fast moving items in secondary storage locations. Primary bins are replenished on a set schedule (with the exception of unexpected stockouts) at times when orders are not being picked.
Properly putting away products is a critical element to your organization’s success. Develop, implement, and practice “best procedures” for putaway as well your other material handling operations.