The goal of warehouse managers is to fulfill customer orders without delay and to keep workers safe from accidents. You can do this by using your warehouse space and equipment strategically and efficiently. By optimizing your putaway processes, you can meet these goals and get products from the manufacturer to the customer more quickly.
What is Putaway in Warehouse Management?
Putaway is an important part of warehouse operations. It is where you move newly received goods to storage locations within the warehouse to await picking and order fulfillment. Some warehouses use a staging process, where they hold newly received shipments in a temporary location before moving them to the racks, shelves, and spaces where the warehouse pickers will be able to find them when the relevant orders come in.
What is the Putaway Process?
The putaway process is the first step after trucks arrive from the vendors with a new shipment of materials or merchandise. Each warehouse has its own workflow regarding the times for moving the goods from one location to the other, checking which products have arrived, and keeping track of where the warehouse workers store them. This could involve scanning the SKUs on the cases of products or recording each product by hand as it arrives.
Types of Putaway Methods
The three most commonly used warehouse putaway methods are direct putaway, dynamic putaway, and fixed location putaway. To get a sense of which warehouse putaway method your company should use, consider the size of your warehouse, the number of workers your company employs in the warehouse, and the order volume you typically receive. You should also consider the layout of your warehouse and its equipment, as this is an important safety consideration.
In the direct putaway method, warehouse workers take the products to their long-term storage location as soon as they come off the truck. You do not temporarily stow them in a staging zone before taking them to the shelves where the pickers can find them when a purchase order comes in. This method works well if your warehouse is relatively small and orders come in quickly. This way, the quick handling of merchandise does not cause confusion, and the fact that your warehouse has limited storage availability does not cause you to postpone the fulfillment of orders.
In the dynamic putaway system, your warehouse management software has already assigned a unique location to each item in the shipment by the time the truck arrives. You just follow the instructions on the software to put each item in its proper place. The software is constantly updating its information about which spaces are available as items get shipped out pursuant to purchase orders, and spaces open up for new merchandise. This way, real-time data analysis technology enables the warehouse to use its available space more efficiently.
With fixed-location putaway, the warehouse managers have already determined the layout for the warehouse, with each zone dedicated to a particular product type or brand. The quantities and weight of the products also play a role in the managers’ decisions about which brand to store and where. In some cases, space availability plays a role. It might not make sense to a newcomer why your warehouse has shelves full of Nike shoes right above the John Deere lawn mowers, but if this is what helps your warehouse get the products to the customers on time, then you should continue to follow this system every time a new truck of Nike shoes comes to the loading dock. This way, you reduce the chances of a mixup.
Benefits of Warehouse Putaway
It might seem like a minor detail, but warehouse putaway is an important matter. You should carefully plan the putaway tasks that you assign to the workers in your warehouse. It is possible to prevent almost every instance of confusion about where to find a particular item in the warehouse if every employee in the warehouse knows where the item should go as soon as it arrives. These are just some of the reasons why your company should invest in warehouse management software that includes putaway optimization features.
- Optimizes the Warehouse Layout: Warehouse putaway solutions can help you implement a more efficient warehouse layout. For example, you can reduce the distance that pickers will have to travel to retrieve the articles that customers tend to order together. To decide on the best criteria for which items you should store together in the same zone, you should run the data analytics features of your warehouse management software.
- Accurate Inventory Management: One of the biggest and most common problems you can run into in warehouse management is not knowing how many of each item are in your cache at any given time. Sometimes, to save time, warehouse workers will set one item aside or tuck it into the nearest available space so that they can focus on putting away other items. They might even defer judgment on where to put a certain item, and then not remember where it is.
- Improves the Picking Process: If the putaway process is disorganized, it is very difficult for the pickers to find the items they need to fulfill orders. Every order reaches its destination more quickly when you invest in warehouse putaway optimization.
- Boosting High-Value Products Stock: You have less room for your most valuable stock when you have a poorly organized warehouse. Therefore, poor organization can inhibit your company’s growth, and warehouse putaway optimization can facilitate it.
Factors Affecting the Warehouse Putaway Process
One factor that affects the warehouse putaway process is the quantity of merchandise you must put away. Another is the frequency with which new shipments come in. A third is the equipment you have available to hold and restrain items in various parts of the warehouse.
How to Optimize the Warehouse Putaway Process
To optimize the warehouse putaway process, you must use the space in your warehouse efficiently. Time management is also an essential aspect of warehouse putaway process optimization.
Warehouse Putaway Best Practices
The best practices for warehouse putaway focus on making the putaway process time-efficient and space-efficient. You should also prioritize the safety of your workers during warehouse putaway and all of your other warehouse operations.
Create and Follow a Timeline
Making a schedule and sticking to it is an important element of warehouse putaway optimization. Keep track of when shipments arrive, when recurring orders are due, and when to conduct quality checks on your stock.
Collect the Correct Data and Analytics
A warehouse putaway process is only as efficient as its data and analytics. Choose a warehouse management software with robust data analytics features.
Reduce Travel Time
With an optimized putaway process, you can minimize the distance that each person must travel to put away each item. This also makes transit time shorter and the putaway process more efficient.
Upgrade your WMS
Trying to manage warehouse putaway is a herculean task if you do not have warehouse management software. Trying to do putaway without WMS is virtually impossible in all except the smallest warehouses.
Warehouse putaway optimization not only makes warehouse workers do their work faster, but it also enables them to be more accurate. WMS reduces errors during putaway and other warehouse processes.
The first step to improving order fulfillment and supply chain logistics is to focus on warehouse putaway optimization. Various types of warehouse software can help with this.
Warehouse Putaway FAQs
These are some common questions that warehouse managers ask about streamlining and optimizing the warehouse putaway process.
What Is Putaway in Inventory?
Putaway is a warehouse process where workers take stock that has recently arrived at the warehouse and put it in its usual place of storage.
What Are the Putaway Steps in a Warehouse?
The first step is to record the inventory that has come in. This is sometimes called warehouse staging. After taking inventory of the shipment, you can stock each item in its proper place.
What Are the Putaway Strategies?
The main putaway strategies are direct putaway, dynamic putaway, and fixed location putaway.