Directed Put-away – No Location Found

In recent posts we discussed taking advantage of technology to help with product put-away. Directed put-away removes the routine and tedious decision making tasks from operators allowing them to be more productive. A good warehouse management system (WMS) should allow management to define various put-away rules the computer will use when determining the best put-away location. However, even with the best algorithms things inevitably go wrong and there will be situations where the operator putting product away is not able to complete the task for a multitude of reasons including:

There is a different product in the location. Unless management allows mixing products in a location, the operator should not attempt to complete the task and mix the product.

There is the same product in the location with a different lot number. Similar to the above example, some operations track at the lot level and do not allow mixing lot numbers in inventory.

There is something in front of the location blocking access. Perhaps the containers stuck in the port of Long Beach are released at the same time and show up at your dock door. The pallets may end up being unloaded and staged down storage aisles, temporarily blocking access to active locations.

The location is damaged. Roofs leak, storage racks bend, and pallets break. When an operator arrives to a damaged location, an alternative storage location needs to be found.

 Regardless of the reason, the operator should have the ability to either drop the product in an alternative location (system override), be directed to another viable storage location (system directed), or if all else fails and no locations can be found, place the product in a “trouble” location near the manager’s office. This will give needed visibility and hopefully resolution to the problem.   

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Chris Barnes is the Supply Chain Doctor and part of the APICS Coach network. He holds a B.S., Industrial Engineering with an Economics Minor, from Bradley University, and an MBA with emphasis on Industrial Psychology with Honors from the University of West Florida. He is one of the few people in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS.