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You Might Have A Bad Warehouse…If It’s A Moving Warehouse!

By Kate Vitasek | 08/08/2011 | 5:00 AM

This Bad Warehouse item, courtesy of Catherine Cooper, EVP and chief information officer of OHL shows how scanning systems can backfire and cause chaos on the floor.



A little bit of knowledge about how WMS scanning and putaway systems work helped transform this warehouse in a short period of time from an otherwise orderly and organized operation to one with a big problem: product on the floor and empty racks.

Sorting it all out must have been a huge headache and a massive congestion problem. It was also a problem with preparation and sequencing. Rather than waiting for the sizing for the material to go into the proper location to occur, the workers short-circuited the operation by simply hitting a button and proceeding.

In this case the workers were able to circumvent standard WMS practices that feature putaway zones, staging and storage areas and final locations. The WERC Best Practices guide says the putaway process “is typically managed by one, or a mix of, these methods: staging product from the receiving area, based on the purchase order, based on the part number, or based on a putaway zone or by using direct delivery (putaway) to the storage location.” The guide continues:

“A putaway zone creates like groups, which may be defined by travel time (mapping out the warehouse storage areas), location of use (such as storage, replenishment, pick area, assembly area) or by product velocity. No matter how the zone is defined, the WMS assigns a storage location and a staging zone. The product is moved to the staging area for that zone to await transfer to the storage location. Staging by putaway zone uses less space, but requires a WMS that is capable of pre-slotting. Utilizing putaway zones will reduce travel time for lift trucks.”

The most efficient practice is to put away directly from receipt to final location. This uses the least space for staging, and product is handled less and ready for use sooner.

What happened at this warehouse was not what WERC contemplates for putaway. Using the warehouse floor as a general staging, storage or putaway zone had to create a nightmare of inefficiency!

I really love your feedback - and love your contributions to share those bad warehouse stories to help educate the profession on what NOT to do, and maybe what to do if you’re not doing it.

If you've got an example of a bad warehouse practice, send me your story and photo(s) to [email protected]. If I feature your example in one of my blogs, WERC will send you a free copy of the WERC Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmark & Best Practices Guide (a $160 value).

Your submission can be anonymous if you like so you don't get your boss or company in trouble! I'll be collecting examples all year and the winner will receive a free WERC Warehouse Certification Assessment by Supply Chain Visions, a $10,000 value. The runner up will win a free conference registration to the WERC conference (a $1,375 value).”


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About Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek

Kate Vitasek is a nationally recognized innovator in the practice of supply chain management. Vitasek is founder of Supply Chain Visions—a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. She is also a faculty member at the University of Tennessee's Center for Executive Education. A prolific writer, Vitasek has authored the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' best-selling mini-book series, Supply Chain Process Standards, and has contributed to other management books as well. Along with Karl Manrodt of Georgia Southern University, she co-leads WERC's popular annual benchmarking study.

About Steve Murray

Steve Murray

Steve Murray is a Principal Consultant and Chief of Research for Supply Chain Visions, a boutique consulting firm specializing in supply chain management. Prior to joining Supply Chain Visions he held a variety of functional and management roles in the distribution and manufacturing sectors, including 15 year managing an IT consulting firm. Steve has been instrumental in development of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professional's "Supply Chain Management Process Standards", the Warehousing Education and Research Council's Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmarking & Best Practice Guide" and the WERC "Warehouse Certification Program". He is lead auditor for the WERC's Certification Program.


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