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1. Distribution Centre (DC) 1.

1 Warehousing Concept A warehouse is a physical


location where goods are stored for a period of time. It is an essential part of
the logistics network with which products are delivered from manufacturer to
end customers. The warehouse can have different functions within a supply
chain. This function depends on the type of products that are stored and the
particular demands of the next party in the supply-chain. Specific logistics
warehousing concepts can be applied in order to gain cost-efficiency and
increase customer service, and in this way become important marketing
tools. Examples of these warehousing concepts include cross-docking or
merge-in-transit concepts. Below are listed a few examples of functions that
can be fulfilled by a warehouse:1 1.1.1 Central Distribution Location In this
concept the warehouse serves as a central point in the market from where
goods can be ordered by customers or by regional warehouses for
replenishment. One of the advantages of a central distribution location is the
lower cost on interest and on storage. 1.1.2 Cross-Docking Centre Crossdocking means using just-in-time scheduling, so that products can be moved
from the receiving area through staging, and onto a transport vehicle without
ever having to be physically stored. Advantages are the profiting of inbound
economies of scale and savings on interest costs and storage costs. 1.1.3
Flow through Facility In this concept, the warehouse functions as a facility
where value added activities take place after vendors have supplied (semifinished) products. After these activities, products are supplied to the market.
1.1.4 Merge-in-Transit Centre In this case, several vendors supply different
components of a product to the warehouse facility. The complete product is
assembled in the warehouse and is ready to be shipped out to a customer.
1.1.5 Vendor-Managed Warehouse In this concept the vendors manage their
inventory themselves, but share the same facility and sometimes share the
same IT-system. After a customer places an order the client of the vendor
becomes the owner of the goods in the warehouse and sells the product
immediately to the end-customer.

Warehouse planning and logistics consulting with a fast Return on Investment


Warehouses play a decisive role for the success of a company. At the same time,
they are an important and complex investment decision, as the costs for the
construction and operation of a warehouse represent up to 25 per cent of the
total of logistic costs. The efficient warehouse planning of the E+P group and the
complex project realisation significantly contribute to cost savings and a fast
Return on your Investment. The E+P group Puts main emphasis on the
economic benefits for the customer Offers a neutral perspective and
manufacturer-independent consulting services Has an overview of the most
current efficient solutions and technologies available in the market As a familyowned and operated enterprise, guarantees quick decisions, reliable support and
a high adherence to schedules Can simulate all customer-specific processes
and target concepts within its own logistics technology centre and derive the
perfect solution for each warehouse in advance Arranges for an integration of
the single sub-contractors on a technical and logistic level. The Ehrhardt +
Partner group provides comprehensive know-how and practical experience in all
domains of warehouse logistics. Apart from strategic warehouse planning and
the constructional project planning, the range of performances also includes
structure and project planning, project management and realisation, the
responsible integration of the IT and warehouse technology as well as the
training of the warehouse staff. Prior to an actual warehouse planning the E+P
group offers a detailed location analysis for the determination and selection of
optimal warehouse locations. In determining potential strategic warehouse
locations, the analysis considers criteria such as: Development scenarios of the
region Regional (logistic) infrastructure Real estate market Labor market
Transportations costs Regulations Safety and Security. Finding the exact
location for the warehouse grants the most economical decision and optimizes in
particular the relationship of construction costs and costs of transportation.

The 21st Century Warehouse Industry


The warehouse industry has come a long way from the days when an
entrepreneur could simply lease space to local business owners. In today's
business environment, warehousing has become a highly sophisticated industry
that relies as much on technology as it does on square footage.
As an emerging warehouse business owner, it's essential to educate yourself
about the services and processes that dominate the industry. Logistics, inventory
control, crossdocking and other services are all part of what it takes to operate a
profitable warehouse operation in the 21st century.
Warehouse Business Startup & Expansion Opportunities
Most entrepreneurs lack the capital to launch a technology-driven, multi-city
warehouse operation with millions in assets. Fortunately, it's possible to start
small and gradually expand your reach.
A single owned or leased warehouse space is enough to get your business off the
ground. Combined with forklifts, storage equipment, inventory tracking software
and a vibrant front office, you can begin to solicit warehouse contracts from local
businesses and possibly even consumers interested in temporarily storing their
personal property.
As you grow, there are many ways to expand your operation. Refrigerated
storage, multiple sites, logistics, pack-and-ship order fulfillment and other
warehouse-related activities are all legitimate expansion opportunities.
But from the moment you launch your warehouse operation, it's important to
create a strategy for growth and expansion. To be successful, your expansion
into new business areas will need to be intelligent and strategic, leveraging your
warehouse company's core competencies as well as gaps in the marketplace.
As a result, strategic planning is a must for every entrepreneur interested in
starting a warehouse business -- even if you are launching a very basic
warehouse operation.
Business Plans 101 for Warehouse Business Startups
Startup entrepreneurs slave over the creation of their business plans, investing
countless hours in the details of their startup strategy. But your business plan
won't be finished until you've included material about your industry.
Industry analyses are standard chapters in warehouse company business plans
and are often required by lenders or investors. Industry analyses are critical for
contextualizing your startup within an industry setting.
To succeed, you'll need to be careful to avoid common industry analysis mistakes
and to accurately represent your startup in an industry context.
Review the Competition
Prior to opening a warehouse business in your area, it's worthwhile to find out
how many competitors you have. Use the link below to generate a list of
competitors in your area. Complete the form by entering your city, state and zip
code to get a list of warehouse businesses that are close by.
Find Local Warehouse Business Competitors
Gain a knowledge of how existing firms have positioned themselves in the
marketplace, and then design your business in a way that sets you apart from
the others.
Getting Advice from Experienced Entrepreneurs
If you want to open a warehouse business be sure to speak with somebody who
is already in the business. It's very unlikely that the local competition will talk to
you. It'd be crazy for them to teach you the business.
However, an entrepreneur who owns a warehouse business outside of your
community may be willing to share their entrepreneurial wisdom with you, after

they realize you reside far away from them and won't be stealing their local
customers. Many business owners are happy to give advice to new
entrepreneurs. Our estimate is that you may have to contact many business
owners to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
So, what can you do to find an entrepreneur who is running a warehouse
business who is willing to advise you because you live in different cities?
No problem! Just use the link below and try a random city/state or zipcode. Then
start dialing for advice until you are successful.
Research Warehouse Business Owners In Other Cities
Gaining Access to Warehouse Business Ownership
Common sense will tell you that to enter the world of warehouse business, you'll
either need to start a new business or acquire a promising company on the
business-for-sale marketplace. But despite the attraction startups have for many
entrepreneurs, you should also consider the benefits of buying a warehouse
business.
If you're on the fence consider this: There has never been a better time to
acquire a warehouse business. The down economy has resulted in a glut of
available businesses, many of which can be acquired for bargain prices.
Is Franchising the Right Option?
Your odds of becoming a successful entrepreneur immediately improve if you
purchase a franchise instead of doing it all on your own.
Before starting a warehouse business, it's worthwhile to assess whether there
are good franchise opportunities available that might make it easy to get
started.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if
there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that
points you in a completely different direction.
Learn about Franchising
Useful Associations for Warehouse Entrepreneurs
If you want to start a warehousing business, you should connect with the
International Warehouse Logistics Association. They can provide useful startup
resources to you.

The warehouse operation plays a significant role in the advancement of any company. It is important that warehouses
employ strategy to ensure an efficient operation and ultimately business success.
A warehouse strategy involves many important decisions such as the investment and operation costs that make up
the logistics overhead. In this article, Darren Woollard from DMG Freight, offering supply chain management
services, gives you six tips for creating a warehouse strategic plan.
1. Outline your existing operation.
Begin creating a strategic plan for your warehouse by looking at your current warehouse function. This will involve
looking at your current facilities. Create an accurate sketch of your warehouse building and floor plan. Make sure it is
to scale so you can maintain accuracy. Manually confirm the drawing by looking at the warehouse floor.
Record all equipment in your warehouse. Write down processes and staff responsibilities in each section of your
warehouse. Look at the procedures you have in place and then actually what is happening on the warehouse floor.
You will often find there is a discrepancy in what you would like to be happening and what is actually happening with
procedures.
Interview your employees to get the big picture of operations in your warehouse. Use observation and interviewing to
find out the processes being used by staff.
This first step involves documenting your building, equipment, items and processes. You cannot make improvements
until you have reported on what is going on.
2. Determine your warehouse storage and inventory needs.
Once you have documented everything happening in your warehouse, you are ready to look at your stock and
inventory requirements. This involves planning and predicting the amount of stock you will require as well as
determining where you would like to store inventory.
Consider organising items based on their material handling and storage traits. When estimating your inventory
requirements think about seasonality and high selling products. Use previous data on inventory turnover to make
accurate estimates.
3. Find weaknesses and areas for change in your current warehouse effort.
Where can you improve your warehouse operation? Look at the notes for your existing operation for analysis. Seek
out critical areas for improvement.
Perhaps you need to upgrade your infrastructure to house certain products. Look at your warehouse facilities,
processes and the equipment you are using. Search for the most efficient and practical solutions to any weaknesses
in your operation.
4. Identify alternative solutions.
If things arent working out then think of new solutions to these problems. You may need to consider how to improve
your warehouse facility, the equipment and staff processes. Find any way you are able to erase flaws in the way
things are run.
5. Evaluate your new plans.
When assessing your plan financially consider the following:

tax

time value of money

total operation costs

When conducting a qualitative analysis look at:

staff safety

how you will adjust to changes

how easy the new plan would be to manage

the possibility of inventory damage

6. Update your plan based on your assessments.


After making a financial and qualitative assessment, you are ready to draft an official master strategy for your
warehouse.
This should include the following items:

space

staff

equipment

processes

future plans

Please keep in mind that your strategic plan is a work in progress and will always require continual amendments.
Essentially, it is never finished since you should always be optimising your warehouse operation. Make sure you
regularly update your plan so you are always operating efficiently.

How to Start a Warehousing Business


Start-Up Information
The average warehouse business costs between $10,000 and $50,000 to set up. You will
want to obtain some initial background information about the warehousing industry before
starting your venture. Start by searching the yellow pages or other business listings in your
area for warehousing companies. Visit their websites to determine what services they offer,
and the types of customers they serve. Call warehousing companies outside your city as
they are more likely to discuss various issues they face or pitfalls to avoid when getting
started. Visit these warehouses so you can better understand how the operations work.
Target small businesses who may need warehousing services, such as small book
distributors. Create your own niche in the market by differentiating your services from
competitors.

Licensing and Equipment


Register for a DBA, or "doing business," if you want to use a fictitious name for your
warehousing business. Obtain the forms for your DBA through your local county or city
administration office. Typically, the application fee costs between $25 and $50. Most of your
investment will go towards specific equipment, including shelving units, forklifts, storage
units like freezers or refrigerators if you carry perishable items, shelving, crates and
computer and inventory software. This software helps you to keep track of items in storage,
and when these units enter or exit the warehouse. You may also need a truck if you get into
the distribution side of the business, delivering products for clients locally.

Employees
Hire employees experienced in logistics if you offer distribution services. Logistics
professionals arrange shipping and track products to their final destination points. They also
oversee items that enter the facility, as they need to track when products first arrive at the
warehouse, as these are the items that are usually shipped first. As a warehouse owner, an
experienced shipping and receiving person can help check items in as the arrive. This
person can also set up specific locations in the warehouse for storing each client's items.
Most warehouses label certain sections with letters "A" to "Z," for example. Locations are
usually recorded on computers. Hire employees to physically lift items and operate forklifts
in your warehouse facility, as well.

Obtaining Customers
Sign up with the International Warehouse Logistics Association. They will list you as a local
warehouse, which can help you generate leads for your business. Advertise in trade
publications like "The Bookseller" in which your clients are most likely to read. Call on small
businesses in your area that sell the products you stock. Present your services to them,
explaining the key benefits you can offer. Selling points can include freeing up space in their
showroom and inventory tracking. Leave a brochure and business card with all business
owners. Create a web site so you can promote it through search engines and the local online
yellow pages.
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Conveyor systems are common pieces of mechanical handling equipment that facilitate the
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Pitch, weight, gradient, capacity, finish and conditions all need to be taken into account so a
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Forklift

Electric Stacker

Hand Manual Stacker

Hand Pallet Truck

Electric Towing Truck

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Tyre press machine

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Crane

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Stretching Door

Superior Drum Lift Attachment for Forklift

Sunnforest is a leading Material Handling Equipment provider in China and Singapore, our
products mainly focus on : Forklift, Forklift parts, Electric Stacker, Electric Pallet Truck, Hand
Manual Stacker, Aerial Work Platform, Crane, Dock Lever, Jack, Lift Table, Shelf, Electric
Truck, Drum equipment,Conveyor System,Conveyor Parts,Conveyor Accessories,
Conveyor Belting and so on.
Sunnforest has over 10 years experience in supplying industrial and commercial materials
handling equipment.
If you need to move raw materials, components or finished goods then we can help.
Sunnforest offers a wide range of materials handling equipment, including gravity
conveyors, powered conveyors and live storage systems. For moving products between

floors, our scissor lifts and goods lifts provide the optimum solution; whilst we have an
unparalleled range of pallets trucks, platform trucks and sack trucks.
Conveyor systems are common pieces of mechanical handling equipment that facilitate the
transport of materials from one location to another. Conveyors are especially useful in
applications involving the moving of heavy or bulky materials. Many kinds of conveying
systems are available, and are used according to the various needs of different industries.
Pitch, weight, gradient, capacity, finish and conditions all need to be taken into account so a
visit by one of our technical specialists could make all the difference. Options include skate
wheel bends, ball tables, track end stops, spring balanced gates, turntables, guard rails,
gravity or powered. Moving items between floors or loading levels can be simplified and
made safer by installing a floor or pit mounted goods lift. Material handling opportunities are
endless and Sunnforest can help you make sense of it all. High Quality Conveyor Belts are
also available to suit all kinds of production application.

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Warehouse Operations Best


Practices: 51 Awesome Tips and
Tactics to Help Improve Warehouse
Management and Operations

Last Updated: Oct 12, 2016

Posted by Nicole Pontius in Industry Resources

Warehouse managers know all too well that the task of managing operations for a warehouse facility
is far from straightforward. Warehouse operations managers are tasked with ensuring the efficient
flow of products in and out of the facility, optimizing the buildings layout, making sure orders are
fulfilled and products are in stock, but not overstocked. Add ensuring profitability and minimizing
overhead and labor costs to the mix, and warehouse operators have their work cut out for them.
With so many factors to balance, considerations to weigh in every decision, and pressure from
stakeholders on all sides to be more productive, minimize expenses, and maintain a smooth supply
chain flow, its no surprise that there are many articles and resources outlining best practices for
warehouse operations.
To make analyzing the vast array of information on warehouse operations best practices, weve put
together a relatively concise list of best practices from a variety of sources. Weve scoured the far
corners of the web to identify these 51 best practices for warehouse operations to provide a useful
resource for warehouse managers aiming to be top performers in their field and produce the best
results possible for their companies. While categorized by topic, please note that the following best
practices are not otherwise rated or ranked in any particular order of importance. To jump to a
specific section, use the links in the table of contents below.
Table of Contents:

Asset Tracking Best Practices for Warehouse Operations

Warehouse Operations Logistics Best Practices

Safety and Risk Management in Warehouse Operations

Optimizing Warehouse Operations Workflows

Best Practices for Improving Inventory Management

Asset Tracking Best Practices for Warehouse Operations

1. Use automatic data collection. People writing numbers on pads of paper or keying strings of
numbers into a keyboard is a bad sign, McKnight says.
The benefits of automatic data collectionvia bar code and radio frequency identificationare wellestablished, including increased productivity and accuracy and lower labor costs. But plenty of
companies still havent implemented automatic data collection.
Some organizations with 30,000 or 40,000 item numbers and multiple facilities are still convinced
theyre better off without technology, McKnight says. Denny McKnight, partner, Tompkins
Associates Inc., a supply chain integration firm headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., quoted
by Leslie Hansen Harps in Best Practices in Todays Distribution Center,
InboundLogistics.com
2. Dont rely on manual data entry processes. INSTEAD: Use mobile computers with bar code
scanners or RFID readers at the receiving dock to immediately identify products on arrival. This
helps get product off the dock quickly and eliminates nearly all the errors associated with
manual receiving: including identification, counting, and data entry errors. With scanning and RFID
technology, youll avoid the mistakes that wreak havoc with inventory accuracy and eat up time and
resources to fix. And that means your warehouse staff can focus on processing customer orders
more quickly. Top 10 Losing Warehouse Strategies and How to Avoid Them, Motorola
Solutions; Twitter: @MotoSolutions

3. Promote information visibility company-wide. The Best in Class point to an extensively


proliferated warehouse visibility infrastructure that allows them to share information throughout their
operation and across the company. Another respondent points to visibility as a means to
improvement. A senior vice president in supply at a large retailer indicates that faster information
access to critical users coupled with extended shipping-receiving hours, led to a decrease in cycle
times between 11-20%. The Warehouse Management Benchmark Report, Aberdeen Group;
Twitter: @aberdeengroup
4. Asset tracking paired with a warehouse management system (WMS) provides the
automation necessary to maximize warehouse productivity. Smart businesses understand that
controlling inventory, fulfillment and shipping costs is essential for success. Companies are
constantly striving to improve their warehouse operations by increasing agility, visibility and labor
efficiency. This requires use of best practices combined with a sophisticated Warehouse
Management System (WMS) that optimally manages all resources within the distribution operations
while minimizing the total cost of operation or ownership (TCO). Warehouse and
Fulfillment: Streamline Your Fulfillment Process and Keep Your Customers Satisfied,
NetSuite; Twitter: @NetSuite

5. Data synchronization improves visibility and streamlines ordinarily labor-intensive data


integration tasks. Central to every supply chain is the common SKU, and its interaction between
the differing systems determines the success of a number of critical business measurements. The
key to harmonising data flow across complex suites of software applications in any size organisation
is to synchronise all data that relates to the common SKU horizontally or vertically within the
enterprise. This approach to standardising common product data at the system level and having no
barriers to data transformation, is fast replacing labour intensive data integration tasks. The next
evolutionary stage in the trade of data between organisations is where data repositories are updated
with the very latest SKU information directly from suppliers. This transfer of interoperable data is now
at a global and cost effective level, seamlessly upgrading inventory repositories, eliminating re-keying
and reducing transcrepancies. It is set to become best practice where continuity of SKU information
is essential for WMS, BOS, and POS investments. One source of data makes sense. The result
retailers, suppliers and consumers all become winners. With most companies aiming to eliminate
returns and re-deliveries; reduce supply chain fines or chargebacks; provide better invoice matching
and stock holding, we might one day be talking about carbon
fingerprints rather than carbon footprints. Logistics & Supply Chain Technology Best Practice
Handbook, BASDA; Twitter: @BASDAUK

6. Use bin locations to quickly locate products. Are you using bin locations to locate your
product? The vast majority of distribution software packages available today utilize bin locations.
This allows for immediate, accurate location of products within your showroom and warehouse
zones. Many distributors are leery of taking advantage of this tool because of the perceived need to
keep vendor lines together. Bin locations, in fact, free you to locate product based on sales volume,
thereby reducing the number of footsteps required to pick those key items that tend to show up on a
majority of orders. I call this locating your product by velocity rank.
Can you pass the Temp Test? Are you able to bring in a new hire or temporary employee and be
confident that this individual is productive within two to three hours? Utilizing bin locations provides a
map for the new recruit to follow. This allows you to look for someone skilled in the area of material
handling. Without bin locations, you will need to look for someone who is experienced within the
product lines you carry in order to find the product to fill orders. They will require more hand holding
to learn where those different product lines are kept within your four walls. Dan Belanger, Dos
And Donts of Efficient (And Safe) Warehouse Operations, Gases and Welding Distributors
Association (GAWDA); Twitter: @GasWeldEdge

7. Dont mix multiple SKUs in a single bin location. Mixing multiple SKUs in the same bin
location reduces picking productivity. We have done time and motion studies that prove that there is
a definite time penalty associated to mixing multiple SKUs into the same bin location.
We see this in many warehouses where a bin location may represent a shelf level that contains 5
10 SKU pick facings. The operator is directed to the shelf level and then needs to search through the
different SKUs to find the item to be picked.
Not only does this reduce accuracy, it also slows the operator down by as much as 15+ seconds per
pick transaction. Having a discrete pick location for every SKU is rule #1. Marc Wulfraat,
President, MWPVL, 5 Ways to Improve Order Picking Productivity, SupplyChain247;
Twitter: @SupplyChain247

8. Record the number of times inventory is picked during specific time frames using an asset
tracking system. There are times when it may not make sense to stock a product. As an example,
if an item is picked only five times a year, the cost of storage can be eliminated by drop shipping from
the manufacturer. By recording the number of times a product is picked, you can determine the value
of the space where the inventory resides. Best Practices Inventory Management, Promotion
Fulfillment Center; Twitter: @PFCFulfillment

9. Asset tracking enables more accurate forecasting, essential for lowering costs and
improving inventory management. Forecasting can go a long way to lowering costs and ensuring
the success of inventory management efforts. When retailers are able to accurately predict which
items they need and the correct quantity, they will be better suited to meet the expectations of their
customers without having surplus stock. Better forecasting requires deft observation of market
research, market demand models, demand patterns, minimum stock levels and historical techniques
and can play a huge role in successful inventory management. David Anderson, Three
inventory management best practices, SalesWarp; Twitter: @SalesWarp

Warehouse Operations Logistics Best Practices


10. Establish advanced shipping notification. This may seem like a no-brainer, but many
distribution centers still have not implemented electronically transmitted advanced shipping
notifications (ASN). Relying on a regular shipping & receiving schedule can result in inefficiency
throughout the distribution center. Delays happen, disruption happens- and it causes deviation from
the regular schedule. The resulting issues start with improper staffing at the receiving dock and
ripple through the warehouse. However, by leveraging electronic advanced shipping notifications
within the purchase order and inventory management functions, labor can be planned with more
certainty. Order fulfillment and transportation activities can be adjusted to ensure proper service time

requirements are met, and transport modes are optimized to keep costs down. 11 Warehouse
and Distribution Center Best Practices for Your Supply Chain, Legacy Supply Chain Services

11. Implement an efficient returns process. Returns are fundamentally complex because of how
they impact physical inventory, electronic inventory and accounting systems. All items must be
identified, assigned to a customer or account, assigned a disposition and then physically sorted
for processing. Since some of the product might be discarded or kept back for vendor chargebacks,
not all merchandise enters electronic inventory; some merchandise must be repacked and accounted
for manually versus electronically. Finally, credits are generally issued at a later time and often for
only some part of a return, including discarded or un-saleable goods. This process is difficult to
automate with a generic ERP package and very challenging with a simple paper process.
Specialized returns systems, whether part of a Warehouse Management System (WMS) or standalone, can support effective automation with appropriate setup. Expert Insight: Best Practices
in Warehouse Returns, Suppy Chain Digest; Twitter: @scdigest
12. Handle tasks efficiently and avoid procrastination. Sometimes when you receive major
shipments from suppliers, its easy to give it the ol, Eh. Lets just take care of this later. Put an end
to the procrastination and take the time to breakdown the boxes, shove them in the recycling bin, unpackage your products and stock them accordingly. This is a habit you must commit to. If your
shipment comes around the same time each day/week, then schedule it on your calendar. Putting it
off will only allow it to become an even larger beast, waiting for your attention.
If you dont have time to stock them on your shelves, another thing I used to do when working in
retail was Id take all the boxes and line them up. Open each one and see what is included. From
there, make a mini stocking pile in each box. Knowing where they will eventually be housed, put

close-proximity items together, so that you can then pull them to the correct spot on your warehouse
floor and stock them quickly. Breena Fain, 6 Ways to Optimize Your Warehouse Management
System, StitchLabs; Twitter: @StitchLabs

13. Implement lean warehouse operations practices. Designing and implementing Lean
warehouse operations can have a great impact on the total supply chain output. By approaching the
waste focus areas mentioned above with Lean solutions, some of the opportunities that come up to
reduce lead times in warehousing include:

Reduction in material handling time in order picking, put away, palletizing and shipping.

Reliability of information to coordinate the rest of the supply chain.

Reduction in truck and containers loading and unloading times.

Reduction in time spent checking and looking for inventory.

Increased flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions and customer


specifications. Lean Warehouse Operations, Four Principles

14. Control inbound and outbound freight to reduce this area of cost. Virtual libraries are being
filled with articles on how to reduce or slow down this area of cost. It must be your number-one
ongoing focus to prevent profit erosion. Use a consultant to help you competitively bid. While carrier
agreements are proprietary, experienced consultants can still help identify areas to negotiate
reductions without hurting service levels. Curt Barry, 10 Ways to Improve Warehouse
Efficiency and Reduce Costs, Multi-Channel Merchant; Twitter: @mcmerchant

15. Require vendor receiving appointments. An easy way to help minimize surprises and plan
your dock staffing is to require all inbound carriers to schedule delivery appointments. There are two
different methods to schedule and they can be used concurrently. The first method is to simply
assign each carrier or delivery a specific time or window of time to deliver. The second is to assign
either a specific or recurring daily, weekly, or monthly schedule to arrive. This allows you to schedule
staff accordingly and make the best use of your dock. Vendor receiving appointments are absolutely
critical if you share a dock or ship both inbound and outbound out of the same area. Any advance
paperwork or data should be provided before the delivery is made. By requiring appointments and
information about incoming loads, surprises are minimized. Back-to-Basics, Part 1: Receiving,
Exceed Consulting
16. Conduct an ABC Analysis, which is helpful for categorizing your inventory by value. ABC
is a hierarchy of your most valuable items to the least (by dollar value). This is also referred to as the
Inventory Categorization Method. Since you may not value your entire stock equally, this control will
have you focusing your time and resources on items that make you the most money.
A- items are big-ticket or priority stock. These goods require tighter controls and monitoring since
they are your largest revenue and cost contributors. Due to their costs, you would most likely be
carrying smaller volumes on hand. Since these items are heavily sought after, they should be stored

under lock and key. In addition to security, A-list products will require higher frequencies of stock
reviews and re-ordering. This ensures that you have adequate supply.
Conversely, C-items have lower values but you may be carrying large volumes of them. For
example, if you owned a hardware store, nails in bulk may be considered a C-item. B-items sit right
in the middle for value, volume, frequency of stock reviews and re-orders. Colleen
Rodericks, Inventory management techniques and best practices, inFlow;
Twitter: @inFlowInventory

Safety and Risk Management in Warehouse Operations

17. Make warehouse safety a top priority. There is more to warehouse safety than compliance
with fire codes and OSHA regulations. Unfortunately, too many warehouse and 3PLs look at safety
as meeting the minimum mandated by law or their conscience. Often, neither goes far enough. In
this chapter, were going to look at Best Practices for Warehouse Safety, discussing the benefits and
risks to employees, managers and employers of both creating a culture of safety in the warehouse,
and failing to do so. For those companies that fail to promote safety, it is often due to insufficient
time, inadequate resources, or the opportunity to save money through corner cutting. In the long run,
however, a safe warehouse environment delivers important cost savings through: higher employee
satisfaction and increased productivity, fewer workplace disruptions and reduced absenteeism and
equipment downtime. You can extend the life of your warehouse infrastructure such as storage and
material handling equipment, as well as reduce damage to inventory. Most importantly, dont assume

that a safe workplace carries a jaw-dropping price tag. Inventory and Warehouse Management
Best Practices, DiCentral SmartTurn; Twitter: @DiCentral_EDI
18. Form a safety committee. Although not particularly severe, warehouse accidents are
numerousthe warehousing and storage industry experiences nearly 15,000 injuries and illnesses
each year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To keep a lid on accidents, warehouse operators should stress worker training and establish safety
best practices, says Bob Shaunnessey, executive director of the Warehousing Education and
Research Council (WERC), an Oak Brook, Ill.-based organization dedicated to warehouse
management and its role in the supply chain.
For most warehouses, forming a safety committee is the first step toward implementing enhanced
safety procedures.
A safety committees members are usually selected from specific organizational groupsincluding
warehouse floor workers, shift supervisors, and department managers. This approach gives
everyone a voice, but keeps the committees size to an effective number of participants. John
Edwards, Warehouse Safety: Its No Accident, Inbound Logistics; Twitter: @ILMagazine

19. Have an emergency response plan in place. Inadequate fire safety provisions, improper use
of lockout procedures and failure to wear personal protective equipment also create hazards in the

warehouse workplace. Employers should have an emergency plan that describes what is expected
of employees in the event of an emergency, including:
Provisions for emergency exit locations and
evacuation procedures;
Procedures for accounting for all employees
and visitors;
Location and use of fire extinguishers and
other emergency equipment. OSHA Pocket Guide, Worker Safety Series: Warehousing,
OSHA.gov; Twitter: @usdol
20. Avoid common mishaps at loading docks and staging areas. Loading docks or staging
areas are common areas in a warehouse where injuries and damage to products occur. Common
hazards include:
Product falling onto employees head, feet, arms, and legs;
Weak housekeeping programs that result in congestion;
Employees jumping from a high elevation to a lower elevation;
Lifting dock plates and constantly adjusting them; and
Forklift or pallet jacks rolling off the dock.
Controls include:
Securing dock plates so they dont roll over;
Conducting daily inspections of loads and temporary storage
arrangements;
Never allowing a forklift or pallet jack to back to the edge of the
dock;
Enforcing safety rules about employee movement from higher dock
elevations to the lower ground surface; and
Monitoring assigned safety inspection forms How Safe Is Your Warehouse?, West Bend;
Twitter: @WBsilverlining

21. Provide appropriate ladders for the various jobs within your warehouse, and provide
training so that workers can easily identify the most appropriate ladder for tasks. Material
handling is not the only potential source of injury within a warehouse. Items may have to be stacked
so that space is used more effectively. Ladders may be used to reach the top of shelves or racks.
Choosing the right ladder for the job and using it for its intended use will minimize your risk of
injury. Warehouse Safety, KEMI
22. Clean up spills as soon as possible, and remove inventory and supplies from aisles when
staff must vacate the area for a short time. The warehouse is a place with lots of stuff. Its narrow
aisles, tall stacks of goods, and poor lighting are the exact ingredients that can compromise visibility.
Slipping and tripping over materials or spilled liquid are common accidents that can be avoided if the
warehouse maintains adequate lighting and equips dark corners with special lights that can be easily
switched on and off. Remove unnecessary steps or ridges and encourage employees to never leave
any cargo, box, and goods unattended on the floor.
If a warehouse worker needs to temporarily leave the floor, it is important for him or her to move
materials away from the center of the aisle while keeping lights on. In cases when something is
spilled, employees should take the proper steps to close the area with visible signs and clean up as
soon as possible. Tom Reddon, 4 Ways to Avoid the Most Common Warehouse Incidents,
Knowledge at Work; Twitter: @ULworkplace

23. Only trained operators should use equipment such as forklifts, cranes, and
hoists. Forklifts and hand trucks arent the only warehouse equipment that can prove hazardous.
Contact with moving conveyor parts can cause serious injuries. Thats why its so important to keep
their guards in place. Cranes, hoists, and derricks can be operated only by trained operators who
know enough to keep from swinging a load over people or to remove their hands or feet from controls
while a load is suspended. In addition, anyone who works in the vicinity must pay attention to crane
movements; if you work or stand under a crane, youre looking for trouble. You may spot hazards in
the way this equipment is loaded, too. Heavy or unbalanced loads could fall over and cause serious
injurieseven fatal ones. Warehouse Safety, BLR.com; Twitter: @BLR_INC
24. Use sound storage practices to minimize the risk of fires. The method of storage can affect
the rate of fire spread and its severity for the same material. For example, paper reels stored
vertically can give rise to stack effect. For indoor storage the suggested maximum height of pile is
4.5m. The clearance from top of pile to the lowest point of roof members, electrical fittings, or fire
detectors should be a minimum of 1m. A colour band should be painted on the wall to indicate the
maximum height to which materials can be stacked. N.V. Subba Rao and K. Ramish
Ramalingham, Risk Management in Warehouses, Cholarisk.com

25. Safety equipment must be used at all times. In the warehouse it is vital that forklifts or
hydraulic dollies are used to lift items that are too heavy. Appropriate eyewear and hard hats should
also be worn when required. Employees should be aware of emergency exits and the sprinklers
installed in the roof should not be blocked at any time. Safety equipment is implemented in order to
minimize workplace injury, so although it may be time consuming to initiate its use, it does pay off in
the long run. Warehouse Safety Principles: 6 key guidelines to keep your workplace safe.,
AdaptALift; Twitter: @aalhyster
26. Post safety expectations in highly visible locations and key areas. Warehouse supervisors
should ensure all safety expectations are posted clearly in close proximity to all equipmentforklifts,
hydraulic dollies, hand jacks, etc. Doing so assures that employees have constant visual reminders
of the inherent dangers of using such equipment, and the safety precautions they should take to
avoid injury. Warehouse Safety Checklist: 8 Things Every Manager Should Review, Legacy
Supply Chain Services; Twitter: @legacyscs

27. Establish accountability and give staff a sense of ownership over warehouse safety
practices. Once your staff has been trained and provided the right equipment, they need to be held
accountable for working safely. This must apply to everyone in your warehouse. You cannot overlook
bad habits of supervisors while reprimanding a dockworker. How you handle safety infractions is up
to you, but your employees must own their actions. You will see better results if you offer suggestions
for safer operation at the same time you express criticism.
You do need to document lapses in safety. Without proper records, you may not have the backup
you need to take action against an employee that continues to ignore your requirements.
Documentation will also help protect you if an employee is injured performing an action after they
have been instructed otherwise. Jerry Matos, Product Specialist, Cherrys Industrial
Equipment, 6 Ways To Encourage Warehouse Safety, Industrial Distribution;
Twitter: @indistwebsite
28. Consider enlisting an outside expert to identify warehouse hazards. To help improve the
safety in the workplace, consider bringing in an outsider. The outsider does not necessarily need to
be a consultant or OSHA representative, but may be a business associate, or peer. The point is to
have a fresh pair of eyes evaluate the warehouse. Sometimes what is seen in plain sight every day
may be an overlooked hazard. Best Practices for Warehouse Safety, Labor Law Center;
Twitter: @LaborLawCenter

Optimizing Warehouse Operations Workflows

29. Clear aisles make for an efficient flow of inventory. The movement of inventory throughout
the warehouse should be done by experienced materials handlers with certifications or licenses to
operate forklifts and boom lifts. These materials handlers should be able to move from one section of
the warehouse to another with ease due to aisles that are not full of unstored inventory. Inventory
that has not been placed in its proper bin or warehouse location can cause problems with inventory
systems, especially under a FIFO, or First In, First Out, inventory system. A FIFO system ensures
that the inventory that was received yesterday is moved to the shipping dock before the inventory
that was received today. This inventory system reduces the chance of obsolete inventory sitting in
warehouse bins. Justin Johnson, Best Practices in Warehouse Operations, Chron.com
30. Store the most frequently picked items close to the shipping area. When considering the
level of effort involved in warehouse operations, the greatest expenditure of effort is in the picking
process. To gain efficiencies in picking the labor time to pick orders needs to be reduced and this
can achieved in a number of ways. Companies with the most efficient warehouses have the most
frequently picked items closest to the shipping areas to minimize picking time. These companies
achieve their competitive advantage by constantly reviewing their sales data to ensure that the items
are stored close to the shipping area are still the most frequently picked. Martin Murray, Supply
Chain/Logistics Expert, Warehouse Best Practices, About.com

31. Implement efficient dock management practices. Some of the most valuable square footage
in the warehouse is dock space. All material must flow in and out of your docks, and these are
limited in number (and not readily added to). Space on the inside and outside of the docks is some of
the busiest in your warehouse. Dock best practice depends on the type of inbound you receive and
for many companies balancing available dock doors, equipment, and labor is difficult, so the
receiving dock becomes a choke point in the supply chain. Docks in todays warehouses must be
more flexible and must support a variety of receipts that are coming in at a faster rate and in greater
frequency and with just in-time and VMI programs, smaller quantities and mixed
pallets. Warehousing & Fulfillment Process Benchmark & Best Practice Guide, Warehouse
Education and Research Council (WERC); Twitter: @WERC
32. Calculate resource and space requirements based on expected receipts and current
backloads. Put-away is the process of moving material from the dock and transporting it to a
warehouses storage, replenishment, or pick area. Best-practice companies manage the put-away
area by calculating resource and space requirements based on expected receipts and current
backlogs. Best practice is to put away product the same day its received, because not doing so
affects space, causes congestion, increases transaction errors, and makes product more susceptible
to damage. In a busy warehouse, it is easy to let product put-away fall behind other tasks such as
picking, replenishment, shipping, and loading. But pulling away resources from put-away tasks can
affect fill rates by not having product in pick racks. This can bring about congestion in staging areas
that overflow into aisles. Delaying put-away may also result in product damage as the merchandise is
moved, again and again, to make way for higher priority receipts. Proper staffing of the put-away
team will support down stream processes of picking and shipping, and in the long run lead to better
customer order fill rates. Kate Vitasek, Best Practices in Material Handling and Put-away,
Multi-Channel Merchant; Twitter: @mcmerchant

33. Establish stable warehouse operations within the warehouse first, then work to improve
pre-planning efforts. The first place to start the MRO improvement process is in the warehouse
itself. Once stable warehouse operations have been established, maintenance and operations can
work to improve their pre-planning efforts. At first glance, this appears to be a daunting task. Trying
to organize, store, identify and properly manage thousands of disparate inventory items, with
different and seemingly unpredictable demand patterns, creates an environment in which it is difficult
to succeed. Creating an implementation strategy that is simple, straight forward and thorough, is
critical to a successful MRO Warehouse Operation. Creating the Perfect Warehouse, MRO
Connection; Twitter: @MROConnection
34. Maximize vertical space. On the production floor, where space can be limited, its important to
take advantage of every inch of available space (floor to ceiling). As noted in an Occupational Health
& Safety article, solutions such as pallet racking can lead to safer working conditions as well as
increased efficiency in the warehouse. Pallet racking, the most common way of storing pallet loads
in the world, is an easy-to-use storage solution; its used in the vast majority of warehouses,
manufacturing facilities, commercial warehouse operations, and even retail stores. Jennie
Dannecker, 10 Ideas for More Efficient & Productive Warehouse Operations, Cerasis;
Twitter: @Cerasis

35. Use your WMS software to sequence orders and organize the workflow. Sequencing your
orders by pick path, and batching together single lines, same-zone orders, and difficult picks such
as non-conveyable items saves tremendous time on the distribution center floor. Again, your WMS
software should be able to organize the workflow and optimize sequence performance. 10 Ideas
for a More Efficient Warehouse Operation, ShelfPlus
36. Communicate effectively and often. Clearly communicating to workers your organizational
goals and the processes to achieve them is one key to effective warehousing operations. When
managers fail to create an environment of open and clear communication, employee productivity
suffers, resulting in high turnover and wasted resources. Increasing Warehouse Productivity,
Inbound Logistics; Twitter: @ILmagazine

37. Make smart use of floor space. Matt Grierson is managing director at Dexion, which provides
industrial and commercial storage solutions across Europe. He says that only a small fraction of the
companies that approach him believing they need to move into larger premises really do need to.
The rest have enough space already, theyre just using it badly.
Grierson says: Inefficiency just happens. You start with a big empty shell thats high and deep and
you slowly begin to fill it as your company grows. Most of the companys efforts are concentrated on
generating sales, naturally, and the warehouse gets forgotten. Before long, your warehouse is full,
but its wasted space and youve got a lot of unused potential.
By using your space efficiently, your staff can get jobs done quicker and can complete more jobs in
a day, you save on purchase or rent by not expanding unnecessarily, and you can go longer before
the huge burden of relocating into bigger premises.
Grierson adds: There are a lot of shelving options. Two-tier or mezzanine, fixed or mobile. If you
can squeeze your rows of shelving together, and only open them up when access is required, you
can save 50% of your floor space.' Tim Aldred, How to manage an effective warehouse, The
Guardian; Twitter: @tim_aldred
38. Design storage systems to meet the needs of the current and planned mix of storage
types. The layout of a warehouse that supports an adjoining manufacturing facility will have different
requirements than a facility supporting product distribution to stores or a facility that supports end-

user fulfillment. Some operations place emphasis on replenishment of product to the point of use,
others on product picking or order fulfillment.
Regardless of the ultimate mission of the warehouse, best-practice companies have designed
storage systems to meet the needs of the current and planned mix of storage types. They have
optimized storage locations and layouts to fit product without the need to restack or repalletize it
once received. The warehouse management system will track storage location profiles and properly
assign product to the best storage location. As a result, best-practice companies have excellent
cube-fill rates.
In addition to optimizing the cubic fill of storage locations, best practice is to minimize travel time. If
a product is in high demand it should be placed closer to its next point of use. In this case demand
should be based on the number times the product is required, not on the number of units required.
The difficulty of retrieval should also be considered in travel time. Higher-demand product should be
placed on the most easily accessed storage space, typically floor level for racking and between waist
and shoulder level in pick racks. Kate Vitasek, Storage and Inventory Control Best Practices,
Multi-Channel Merchant; Twitter: @mcmerchant

39. Reduce order processing cycle time. In one analysis of a distribution operation, data revealed
that the overall order processing cycle time was extremely inefficient. Of the total order cycle time, it
was actually being worked on only 37.9 percent of the time. Six percent of the time was wasted while
people dealt with problems such as waiting for lift equipment, computer issues, interruptions, and
blocked aisles, and the remaining 56.1 percent of the time orders sat idle. This is a low productivity
ratio by any standard. While its unrealistic to expect a productivity ratio of 100 percent, an increase
to 75 percent efficiency would double productivity. How can this opportunity be captured? Are
Your Warehouse Operations Lean?, Plante Moran; Twitter: @PlanteMoran
40. Implement and maintain operational standards in all functional areas. Maintain and use
standards in all major functional areas. This will assist management in identifying systemic
bottlenecks such as aisle congestion or other workflow problems. Warehouse Workflow
Handbook, WERC; Twitter: @WERC

41. Improve cycle time utilization through lean applications. Lean applications can help improve
cycle time utilization, reduce costs, increase productivity, and increase customer satisfaction. To get
to lean, begin with conducting a time study and analysis of the current order fulfillment process.
Identify non-value added steps and note the amount of time spent on each of them. Then, assess
overall workflow in an attempt to reveal inefficient product pick paths, wasted motion, excessive
delays, excessive footsteps, aisle and work area congestion, and equipment availability. Chris
Calderone, Creating a Lean HME Warehouse Operation, Lean Homecare;
Twitter: @LeanHomecare

Best Practices for Improving Inventory Management


42. Reduce inventory inefficiencies. Warehouse management systems are critical to tracking the
various stages of the manufacturing process. From production to delivery, officials need to be able to
monitor inventory as it makes its way through the supply chain. This is especially relevant during
periods of growth, as a sudden influx of inventory may overwhelm employees on the floor, leading to

costly errors. Without a robust inventory control system, managers may have difficulties locating
materials or finished products, causing them to dedicate more manpower and resources to this
process. Officials with Land Rover dealt with this issue on a regular basis, according to Zebra
Technologies. When vehicles rolled off the assembly line, they were subject to a number of
finalization processes, including testing, setting configurations and addressing any existing errors.
Managers had a great deal of difficulty identifying where individual items were located along the
supply chain, resulting in a high degree of uncertainty and risk. Nancy Master, Identifying
Warehouse Management Best Practices, RFgen; Twitter: @RFgenSoftware

43. SKU profiling can facilitate profitability. Understanding how every SKU carried in your
distribution center (DC) can and should contribute to your companys bottom line is the best
way to design and run DC operations. Heres why: Each SKU has a potential cost impact that goes
well beyond its actual purchase price. The decisions surrounding whether a SKU should be stocked
and where, and in what status it is to be held in the supply chain, impact the profitability of your
company. And from a selfish standpoint, these same decisions, made without sufficient evaluation,
can rob your distribution center of capacity and efficiency. Design Distribution Centers for
Profitability with SKU Profiling, FORTE Industries; Twitter: @FORTEindustries

44. Establish minimum holding stocks to cover lead times. It has been established that the role
of inventory management is to ensure that stock is available to meet the needs of the beneficiaries
as and when required.
Inventory represents a large cost to the humanitarian supply chain. This is made up of the cost of
the inventory itself, plus the cost of transporting the goods, cost of managing the goods (labor,
fumigation, repackaging, etc) and keeping the goods in warehouses. The inventory managers job is
to make inventory available at the lowest possible cost.
In order to achieve this, the inventory manager must ensure a balance between supply and demand
by establishing minimum holding stocks to cover lead-times. To achieve this, the inventory manager
must constantly liaise with the programs to keep abreast of changing needs and priorities. The
warehouse must always have sufficient stocks to cover the lead-time for replacement stocks to avoid
stock-outs. Warehousing and Inventory Management, Logistics Cluster; Twitter: @logcluster

45. Perform cycle counts and analyze discrepancies. Dont wait until the annual physical
inventory count comes to perform regular inventory control audits. Perform cycle counts and analyze
their discrepancies to perfect the time it should take you to go through all locations. Its good to have
cycle counts go through all locations every quarter so that you have a more accurate back-office
system. Andy Eastes, CEO of Agile Harbor, 10 Ways to improve warehouse efficiency and
inventory management without software, SKUVault; Twitter: @skuvault
46. Develop an approved stock list for each location. When you stock an item you are making a
commitmenta commitment that the product will be available in reasonable quantities for immediate
shipment or delivery to customers. Most distributors warehouses are filled with two things: stock

and stuff. Stock is the material you intend to be in the warehouse. That is, the items necessary to
meet or exceed customers expectations of product availability. Stuff is everything else. You must
separate the stock from the stuff in each of your warehouses. Our goal is to liquidate the stuff and
arrange the stock items in such a way to minimize the cost of filling customer orders. John
Schreibfeder, President of Effective Inventory Management, Inc., The First Step to Achieving
Effective Inventory Control, via Lanham Associates; Twitter: @LanhamAssoc

47. Maintain constant, consistent communication with vendors. A good relationship with your
vendors is crucial to your companys success especially if you outsource any part of your retail
operations. Your fulfillment provider becomes your brand in the eyes of the customer, so its
important that they understand your plans for your inventory as well as you do.
This means constant communication of your promotional plans, product information, and upcoming
releases. Every retailer wants a flexible, trusted fulfillment provider but a retailer should also be
flexible and trusting in order to make the relationship work seamlessly. Steve Warren, 4 Tips for
Effective Inventory Management, Multi-Channel Merchant; Twitter: @mcmerchant
48. Achieve inventory analysis efficiency. With solid inventory analysis, you can ensure that you
are investing in the right amount of the right products to remain competitive. By developing and using
a comprehensive set of tools to closely monitor the performance of your inventory, you can achieve
more of your goals more efficiently. Bill Knapp, Socius, Beyond Software: 6 Effective
Inventory Management Practices, featured on the ERP Software Blog;
Twitter: @erpsoftwareblog and @mssocius

49. Understand the warning signals. The easiest way to identify that you have too muchor the
wrong inventoryis the amount of dust settled on the product in storage. If you see more than
inch of dust, then thats likely a sign of obsolete inventory. However, there are other, more specific
indicators that inventory management issues need to be addressed.
If there are significant discrepancies between the book inventory and physical inventory, this is a
direct indicator that there is a problem with inventory management. Another distinct indicator is when
your warehouse staff is having trouble locating inventory on a timely basisan issue thats
particularly critical when FIFO, batch/lot number or serial number controls are involved.
The issue of locating specific inventory is typically tied to inventory discrepancies. And, of course, if
youve seen a trend in the increased use of outside storage space, then this can indicate another
ongoing inventory management issue. Norm Saenz and Don Derewecki of St. Onge, Inventory
Management 101: Time to revisit the principles, Logistics Management;
Twitter: @LogisticsMgmt
50. Use both fixed and moveable tracking options. When companies think of warehouse
tracking, they think primarily of movable tracking options, tracking the units and pallets that actually
get moved around the warehouse and sent up the supply chain. This is only one part of the
warehouse management process do not forget the benefits that come with used fixed trackers, too!
By tracking fixed warehouse assets, you are able to assign and manage destinations much more
easily, and arrange strategy protocols as needed without mass confusion. It is better to think of
warehouse tracking in two different parts, one fixed and one movable. Justin Velthoen, 7 Tips
for Warehouse Inventory Management, QStock Inventory; Twitter: @QStockInventory

51. For physical count inventory, keep like inventory together in a single location. Bring like
inventory together into a single storage location. The same part shouldnt be in several storage areas
unless physical size dictates a limitation. In that case, keep available quantities to a minimum and
move remainder to a location that isnt part of the easily accessible storage (overstock
location). Warehouse Management Tips for Physical Count Inventory, riteSOFT;
Twitter: @ritesoft
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