Many supply chains grapple with SKU proliferation while working to lower inventory levels. The result is that pick lines – the size and arrangement of locations to pick from – have become more important in determining warehouse space requirements, often more so than storage needs.
There are three fundamental aspects to sizing a pick line:
- Each item requires a dedicated slot along the pick line sized to balance keeping the pick line as short as possible while avoiding excessive replenishment activity.
- A picking and order assembly strategy that minimizes labour and completes the order within the time frame set by customer service.
- The sequencing of product such that the distribution centre delivers assembled orders in a stable, product-sensitive way (e.g., no crushables on the bottom of a pallet)
The objective is to assign a type of material handling equipment and a slot size to every single SKU, considering an item’s velocity, inventory profile and dimensions. Combining these SKU-level needs determines the length and configuration of the pick line(s).
Strong analytical capabilities, as opposed to gut feelings, provides the best support for selecting appropriate equipment, whether conventional, mechanized or automated.
For more information about understanding your distribution center’s true capacity, download LIDD’s ebook Distribution Centre Optimization.