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Why keep the stock in the warehouse in motion to improve efficiency

By Dr. Robert L. Gordon | 07/31/2016 | 4:30 PM

The modern warehouse uses robots and drones to move stock to warehouse locations and then brings them to picking stations where they are assembled for outbound shipping. However, why not have the inventory move rather than keep it static on the shelves? There can be a lot of wasted movement as stock is unloaded, and then sent to static shelves that need to be then picked again. However, one can eliminate this wasted motion with creativity and innovation. Of course, some people believe that this is impossible; however, there are already real-world examples of this kind of thinking. Here is a link to a Japanese Conveyor Belt Sushi Restaurant that operates on this principle that inventory exists on the conveyor belt and not on shelves [Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R47tfK1dna8].

With some creativity, inventory can be dynamic and immediately available for use the moment it is on the conveyor system. Once in a bin with an RFID tag, a robot or drone could home in on that item and take it to the appropriate picking station. This would save a lot of unnecessary delays due to waiting for material to be unloaded and then moved to the designated inventory location. This concept needs to be explored further, but keeping inventory in motion could really improve efficiency and allow inventory locations to be in motion and dynamic.

I welcome any thoughts or feedback on this concept as perhaps someone might already be working on this concept.



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About Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is program director of the Reverse Logistics department at American Public University. Dr. Gordon has over twenty-five years of professional experience in supply chain management and human resources. He holds a Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, as well earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA. Dr. Gordon has spent more than 14 years teaching reverse logistics, transportation, project management, and human resources. He has published articles on reverse logistics; supply chain management; project management; human resources; education, and complexity. He has also published four books on Reverse Logistics Management; Complexity and Project Management; Virtual Project Management Organizations, and Successful Program Management..

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