Whether it’s an expansion, a new building or a WMS implementation, you may be required to come up with a warehouse racking numbering system for your new or existing distribution facility. When creating a numbering system, there are always lots of opinions on how to label warehouse racking optimally.
At LIDD, we know that ultimately there is not one perfect numbering system for all our clients. With any method, the key factor is to stay consistent and flexible. To do that, we typically recommend a matrix style numbering system that consists of 3 or 4 components: aisle, rack and/or position, and level. A combination of letters and numbers can be used to make the slot numbers easier to read.
When numbering aisles, it’s important to keep in mind the direction in which the building and/or racking may expand and, as such, position the aisle numbering or lettering in such a way as to minimize the need to renumber when adding aisles.
For clients with multiple departments, the aisle can be used to differentiate between them, either by using a number range (ex:100s, 200s or 300s) or a letter code in front of the aisle number (ex: D10, C10, F10 for dry, cooler, freezer).
RACKS AND POSITIONS
When it comes to numbering the racks, once again expansion potential is important to consider. If an aisle is to expand in either direction, an ideal warehouse racking numbering system would have a buffer of numbers left over at either end. Our clients in the food service and grocery business typically like to number the racks in the direction of the pick path, with the odd numbers on one side and even numbers on the other.
Within each rack bay, each position can be numbered. For pallet slots, this means 2 positions per rack bay but it can increase as needed for handstacks. For example, rack bay 21 with two pallet positions could be 21-1 and 21-2 and rack bay 22 with 6 handstack positions can be 22-1, 22-2, 22-3, 22-4, 22-5, 22-6.
Sometimes our clients prefer not to number each rack bay but instead number each position sequentially. There are pros and cons to this; it is often seen as a simpler numbering system as it removes one numbering component but it can also be less flexible than the rack and position numbering method. Numbering the individual positions works well for pallet slots but when using this method to number handstacks for example, more creativity is needed so as to not run out of slot numbers.
The final component to most warehouse racking numbering systems is the level. As with the other numbering components, the level can be either a number or a letter or a combination of the two and it can be used to distinguish between pick and reserve levels. When distinguishing between level types, as always flexibility, is important. Ways you can keep flexible level numbering include:
- Begin the pick levels at the start of the alphabet (A, B, C starting from the ground up) and the reserve levels from the end of the alphabet (Z, Y, X working from the ceiling down).
- Identify the pick levels using numbers and the reserve levels using letters
The level component can also be used in the position only numbering system to give more flexibility.
Combining the aisle, rack and/or position and level gives you your final numbering format. From here you can play with hyphens to create the most legible format for your warehouse.
We encourage you to play around with your numbering system to find out what works best in your warehouse design. In our experience, as long as you take a logical and flexible approach, with time, the employees in the warehouse will get used to most any system.
Interested in learning more about slotting design? Check out our eBook about Product Slotting today.