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Putaway refers to the process of moving incoming inventory from the receiving zone to an optimal location for storage. As a process, putaway involves more than just transporting inventory from Point A to Point B, though. In alignment with lean warehouse management, optimal putaway involves:
There are three key ways to approach the putaway process — each being more or less ideal than the other options, depending on individual circumstances. Let’s take a closer look at each.
With a fixed-location approach to putaway, you’ll assign specific storage space to be used for specific types of inventory at all times.
Note that “specific types of inventory” provides for some flexibility, in that you don’t necessarily need to designate space for a specific product, per se. Rather, the goal is to designate certain storage areas for products of certain characteristics.
A few examples:
Fixed-location putaway is ideal for companies that sell a wide spectrum of items, as it allows you to tailor different storage spaces as necessary for housing a specific product. Fixed-location means your team will always know where a certain product is being stored — allowing for easy retrieval and delivery whenever needed.
A dynamic approach to putaway focuses on storing incoming inventory in the most convenient spot possible (for both storage and retrieval).
In contrast to fixed-location, dynamic putaway is ideal when the majority of your inventory is relatively similar in terms of size, weight, and other physical characteristics.
Another key advantage of dynamic putaway is the ability to take demand into consideration above all else. With fewer physical restrictions as to where inventory can be stored, you can identify hot-ticket items as they come in and place them as close as needed for fast retrieval.
Since your various products may be stored in different places at different times, it’ll be nearly impossible to keep track of your inventory without some technological assistance.
That said, if you find that dynamic putaway would be right for your organization, you’ll absolutely need to invest in inventory management software to optimize your processes.
Direct putaway is the process of immediately transporting incoming inventory directly to its final location in your warehouse. Instead of being placed in storage, you prepare for delivery as fast as products arrive.
In taking this direct approach, you’ll both minimize touchpoints and unnecessary movement of inventory, and also ensure that handoff of inventory for delivery occurs without much friction — if any.
Similar to dynamic putaway, direct putaway requires real-time use of inventory management software in order to identify (a) which products should be subject to direct putaway, and (b) where that inventory should be moved to.
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