How an Effective Put-away Process Improves Warehouse Operations

An effective put-away process is an important stock management strategy. Put-away refers to every activity from initial receipt of stock until it is finally stocked at the destination. Accurate control over the stocking process leads to timely order fulfillment and eventually ‘happy customers.’

Managing the put-away process saves time, resources and money. Broadly, the put-away process consists of three steps:

  1. Planning
  2. Execution
  3. Monitoring for process enhancements


Planning

It is vital to take account of the expected receipts and current backlog in order to accurately calculate the resources and space required while planning the put away process.

Let’s consider a case of stock received in small quantity. It needs to be ascertained if a trip to the warehouse is justified. If the put-away process is delayed, it negatively impacts warehouse space, resources and product quality. Hence, proper planning is important.


Choosing the suitable method for put-away

Warehouse management systems (WMS) offer a wide range of put-away strategies. Typically, there are four methods of staging in practice:

  • Staging the product from the receiving area based on purchase order
    Pros - easier to manage and identify discrepancies
    Cons - large staging area is required
  • Stage product by part number
    Pros - possible to put-away even before every item on the purchase order is received, thus less storage space is required
    Cons - effective only if product sizes are available beforehand
  • Stage by creating put-away zones based on various criteria like product type, travel duration etc.
    Pros - effective use of space
    Cons - requires a WMS that is capable of pre-slotting
  • Put-away directly from receipt to final location
    Pros - consumes least space, physical movement of product is minimal
    Cons - Sophisticated WMS required to assign locations


Resource optimization: Multi-tasking can be carried out to optimize resources. For example – a truck returning empty after completing the assigned pick up could be used for put-away of another product.


Do-it-today: generally, put away tends to take back-stage to prioritize other tasks such as picking, replenishing, shipping and loading. Parking the put-away process causes congestion, repeated movement of product and therefore possible damage to goods or packaging.


Execution

The planning provides a blueprint of how to go about assigning resources. Sometimes unusual situations can trigger a need for change in schedule. These can be handled as exceptions or priorities.


Monitoring

No process can be made effective unless it is constantly monitored for improvement. The put-away process is no exception. Monitoring the major factors that might affect efficiency of the put-away process helps in process enhancement.


  • Changing technologies: It is important to be updated yourself with the latest technologies.
  • Think process Automation: Automation helps to eliminate labor intensive procedures, reduce cost, and increase efficiency. Latest WMS technology have enhanced the productivity of the put-away process. For instance, system directs operators in the most efficient travel path. Hence, goods move faster with lesser resource. Without constant monitoring for improvement a possible scope of automation may be missed.
  • People power: Feedback from staff is a great input for brain-storming possible process improvement.
  • Go-green: In an era of ‘climate change’ and ‘sustainability,’ effective recycling and energy efficient systems will reflect positively on the business in addition to saving costs.


An effectively managed put-away process enhances warehouse operations and positively impacts many other factors like total storage capacity, managing short-shipped or cancelled orders, preventing damage to inventory, eliminating congestion in aisles and so on.


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