If you have a warehouse that performs case or each picking, chances are you’re performing some kind of replenishment. The decision to use a particular methodology or mix of methodologies is generally driven by two factors, priorities and restrictions. We’ll cover the primary types of methodologies in this first part and Part 2 will finish talking about the top-off method as well as give hints and examples as to what might work best in your operations.
The primary types of replenishment methodologies are:
- Demand – these are an attempt to overcome restrictions and/or surprises by moving only inventory that is needed to fulfill an order or group of orders
- Routine – these are triggered when inventory reaches a minimum threshold within a forward pick face or location; and
- Top-Off – these are typically attempts at bringing stock up to acceptable levels during times when picking operations are less active.
When does it work best to use Demand Replenishment?
If there are significant restrictions in the number of picking locations available, demand tends to be the favored approach. The thinking generally goes like this, “I can’t afford to dedicate a picking location to inventory unless I already have a pick requested for at least some of that inventory.” Strict rotation of inventory is another reason to use this, ensuring that newer inventory isn’t picked and shipped with older inventory remaining in a pick location as a result of improper rotation of inventory during replenishment. If you choose Demand Replenishment and you begin to set up your pick face, consider factors such as dynamic pick slotting, limited real estate, and product that experiences unexpected demand spikes.
When does it work best to use Routine/Triggered Replenishment?
Triggered replenishment, often called routine or opportunistic, requests that more products be brought to a location or area when the existing inventory reaches a minimum threshold. Triggered replenishment can help ensure that a picker always has enough inventory in the most efficient picking location. This method is best suited in scenarios where the product has a predictable throughput or known seasonal demands that allows product to be slotted statically for longer periods of time. This style of replenishment also requires that the proper amount of real estate is available for the product and works best when the forward pick location has enough room for full pallets of inventory to be replenished to the pick face.
When does it work best to use Top-Off Replenishment? Top-off replenishment can work well when you have a shortage of work to complement or promote interleaving opportunities in areas that folks happen to be working in, or when you’re expecting a large wave of pick work or volume and you want to be proactive and top off your pick face in advance (providing you have the proper work force available to prepare).
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