Warehouse Putaway Process: Optimizing Inventory Management

How to use warehouse putaway strategies to optimize your inventory management. Need help with receiving? Don’t miss this article!

The warehouse putaway process is a critical part of the warehouse receiving process and inventory management. It helps to improve a lot of aspects associated with storing and managing goods. In this article, we examine the benefits of implementing a warehouse putaway process and explore different strategies that organizations can use to make their warehouse putaway process more efficient.

The warehouse putaway process with a pallet jack

Table of Contents

What is warehouse putaway?

Warehouse putaway is a process that designates where to place products in the warehouse. It includes when they should be moved based on factors such as product size, weight, fragility, and shelf life. Putaway is an important part of inventory management because it maximizes space utilization, reduces handling costs, and helps to ensure accurate inventory tracking.

Warehouse putaway for fixed and dynamic locations in a storage space

The Goal of the Putaway Process

Although the core component of putaway is simply putting products away, there’s more to it than that. Let’s break down the putaway process into a simple objective-oriented goal:

The main goal of the warehouse putaway process is to ensure that the right product is placed in the right location, at the right time.

Anyone can place items into warehouse storage space. However, a putaway process seeks to capitalize on several key metrics:

  • Inventory accuracy and awareness
  • Speed and efficiency of access
  • Maximizing storage capacity

This ensures that space utilization is maximized and reduces handling costs. The aim is to achieve a high degree of accuracy when it comes to inventory tracking so that products can be quickly identified, picked, and shipped as required. A successful putaway process requires careful planning and organization to maximize efficiency and minimize errors or delays.

Maximizing the Benefits of Warehouse Putaway - Key Metrics to Measure

As mentioned in the previous section, three key metrics ensure the putaway process has the most benefit for warehouse operations. These are the benefits that work toward reducing overall cost. Here are those three key benefits in greater detail:

Inventory Accuracy and Awareness

Awareness of inventory levels is one of the primary benefits of implementing a warehouse putaway process. By assigning a specific place for relative products, it’s easier to keep track of what items are available and their storage location. This can help avoid costly stock-outs or overstocks.

Maximizing Storage Capacity

Another benefit of implementing a warehouse putaway process is improved warehouse space utilization. By designating specific storage locations for products, these areas can accommodate the regular size and shape of those products. This allows for more products to and more storage availability in a smaller volume of space. Whereas, storing in random mismatched locations naturally consumes more of the warehouse storage capacity.

Speed and Efficiency of Access

When products are placed in assigned areas, employees don’t need to spend as much time maneuvering them around the warehouse. Your quicker picking process and faster access to inventory translates to more orders fulfilled in the same amount of time.

It also minimizes the risk of product damage or shipping mistakes. For example, the optimal storage location of a popular product is often closer to the packing area to help reduce travel distance.

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What are the types of warehouse putaway?

There are several types of warehouse putaway strategies that can optimize inventory management. Here are the main types of putaway:

Static Putaway (Direct Putaway or Batch Putaway)

The most common type is “static” putaway, which uses predetermined locations for each product based on size, weight, and other characteristics. Usually, these locations are assigned by a warehouse manager. Another name for this “direct” or “fixed location putaway”.

Sometimes it’s also referred to as “batch putaway”, as items may be batched together into groups upon receipt. This type of putaway is ideal for warehouses that need to maximize space utilization, as it ensures that products are placed most efficiently.

Directed Putaway

Directed putaway is when a warehouse management system, or inventory software “directs” the putaway locations. The software may analyze various characteristics such as popularity, fragility, weight, size, and other things to determine its optimal location.

Dynamic Putaway

Another popular strategy is “dynamic” putaway, which basically just places inventory wherever it can fit. In other words, the warehouse inventory stores in “dynamic locations”. Dynamic putaway is beneficial for warehouses with rapidly changing inventory levels or a low number of total SKUs, as it allows them to respond quickly to changes in demand or supply.

Automated Putaways

Finally, there are systems known as “automated” putaway that use robotic equipment for material handling and storing. This type of system is ideal for warehouses dealing with large volumes of goods and offers increased accuracy when compared to manual methods. Automated systems also reduce labor costs and improve safety by eliminating the need for manual handling of heavy items.

picking process of a pallet pick in a warehouse space

How do you optimize the warehouse putaway process?

Any business that engages in warehousing activities can use a variety of strategies to enhance its warehouse putaway process. Below are three simple ways to help optimize:

Upgrade Your Equipment & Software

One strategy is to level up the type of equipment and software at use in the warehouse. For example, introducing a barcoding system and labeling makes it so items are easily identified and tracked. Additionally, organizations should consider implementing an automated system for tracking inventory levels, which can help them stay up-to-date on product availability and quickly identify any discrepancies in inventory counts.

A warehouse management system helps track all of this data in real time. This happens as it moves into and out of inventory and even helps control the flow of workers as they move around the warehouse.

Organize Relative Inventory Into Zones

To help optimize your putaway, consider implementing a zone-based warehouse layout. This type of layout groups products according to their size, weight, fragility, frequency, and other factors.

A clean and organized warehouse by itself helps optimize warehouse operations. However, by organizing into zones, you may assign some warehouse workers to oversee only one or two zones rather than the entire warehouse. This helps them gain familiarity and speed as they learn the ins and outs of the products in their zone.

Train Your Employees Well

Finally, basic warehouse management principles ensure that their staff members are properly trained. This includes how to use any automated equipment or software used in their warehouse putaway process. Warehouse managers should be integral in this training process.

Proper training ensures that personnel understand how each system works as well as its importance in maintaining accurate inventory levels and storage practices within the facility. It also reduces errors associated with improper usage of these tools and helps optimize efficiency overall throughout the process.

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Warehouse Putaway FAQs

A putaway is a process of organizing and storing goods in a warehouse. The goal of a putaway is to ensure products are placed in the proper place, at the proper time, and in the proper order. This may include sorting items into specified locations based on their size, weight, fragility, frequency of use, and other characteristics. Sometimes these putaway processes are directed by software, other times they are based on demand.

You can maximize space utilization in a warehouse with a putaway strategy by utilizing a zone-based warehouse layout. This type of layout involves organizing products according to their size, weight, fragility, frequency of use, and other characteristics into specified zones. Organizing items into zones eliminates the need for workers to search through a large inventory, thus reducing labor costs and improving efficiency.

Yes, automated putaway is generally considered more efficient than manual methods. Automated put away warehouse systems can process large volumes of goods quickly and accurately, reducing labor costs and eliminating the need for manual handling of heavy items. Automated systems also provide better accuracy when compared to manual methods as they are less likely to make errors due to human error.

The main difference between direct putaway and directed putaway is that direct putaway does not involve any decision making whereas directed putaway requires decisions to be made. Direct putaway simply involves the storage of goods in a predetermined location. On the other hand, directed putaway requires inventory management software to make decisions on where to store items based on various characteristics.

Putaway is the process of organizing and storing goods in a warehouse by various characteristics. Storage is the act of holding items in a set location for later retrieval or use. Putaway helps ensure that products store in their proper place with a system that maximizes capacity and accessibility. The goal of storage is to simply protect held goods from damage and theft while they are not used.

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