Understanding the Warehouse Putaway Process

In the world of warehouse management, the putaway process is a critical operation that involves moving goods from the receiving area to their appropriate storage location. The efficiency of this process can significantly impact the overall productivity of a warehouse, influencing everything from inventory accuracy to order fulfillment speed.

Our goal with this post is to explore the warehouse putaway process in its entirety to help you gain a deep understanding of it. In addition, we will show you how it can help you maintain an organized warehouse and improve your general warehouse operations.

What is Warehouse Putaway?

warehouse putaway process

Putaway, in its essence, refers to the activities involved in receiving goods into a warehouse and placing them into their designated storage spaces. The goals are straightforward yet critical: to maximize storage space, reduce handling costs, and improve inventory accuracy. The process involves several steps, from receiving and inspecting goods to determining their storage location and physically storing them.

Benefits of Implementing an Efficient Putaway Process

A well-executed putaway process ensures inventory accuracy, which is pivotal for real-time inventory management. By optimizing storage space, warehouses can accommodate a broader range of products and facilitate quicker access to them, thereby accelerating order fulfillment.

Other benefits are as follows:

Enhanced Inventory Accuracy

One of the foremost benefits of a streamlined putaway process is the improvement in inventory accuracy. Accurate inventory records are crucial for successful warehouse operations, impacting everything from order fulfillment to replenishment planning. A meticulous putaway process ensures that items are correctly stored and accounted for, reducing discrepancies and the likelihood of stockouts or overstocking.

Optimized Space Utilization

Efficient putaway strategies, such as direct putaway or zone-based putaway, help in maximizing the use of available warehouse space. By strategically placing items based on their size, turnover rate, or compatibility with other goods, warehouses can avoid wasted space, improve storage availability and accommodate a larger inventory. This optimized space utilization is critical for warehouses operating at or near capacity, enabling them to manage their inventory more effectively without the need for immediate expansion.

Improved Order Fulfillment Speed

The location where items are put away can significantly affect the speed of order picking and overall order fulfillment. By strategically storing items in locations that minimize travel time for pickers or grouping frequently ordered items together, warehouses can expedite the picking process. This efficiency directly translates to faster order fulfillment, contributing to higher customer satisfaction and retention rates.

Increased Worker Productivity and Safety

An organized putaway process not only streamlines operations but also creates a safer work environment for warehouse employees. Efficiently stored goods reduce the need for workers to move or lift items unnecessarily, lowering the risk of workplace injuries. Moreover, a well-organized warehouse makes it easier for workers to locate and access goods, boosting productivity and reducing time spent searching for items or navigating through cluttered aisles.

Reduced Costs

Efficient putaway processes can lead to significant cost savings in several areas. By enhancing inventory accuracy, warehouses can reduce the costs associated with inventory discrepancies, such as rush orders to cover stockouts or the need to write off lost inventory. Optimized space utilization can defer the need for warehouse expansion or additional storage facilities. Furthermore, improved worker productivity means that more work can be done in less time, potentially reducing labor costs.

Better Customer Satisfaction

Ultimately, the benefits of an effective putaway process culminate in better service for the end customer. Accurate inventory records and faster order fulfillment times mean that customers are more likely to receive their orders on time and without errors. Satisfied customers are essential to the success of any business, leading to repeat purchases and positive word-of-mouth, which are invaluable for growth and sustainability.

Warehouse Putaway Strategies

Direct Putaway

The direct putaway method is straightforward: goods are moved directly from the receiving dock to their designated storage location without intermediate handling or storage. This method is ideal for items that have a predetermined storage space and for high-priority goods that need to be accessible immediately. Direct putaway reduces handling time and the risk of damage, making it a preferred method for perishables, high-value items, or fast-moving goods.

Dynamic Putaway

For dynamic putaway, warehouse managers place stock dynamically at different spots in the warehouse, largely based on sales volume and shelf life. For example, items that sell fast are placed closer to the entrance of the warehouse for faster picking, while the slowest SKUs are placed at the farthest.

The challenge with this method is that picking items, especially for orders with mixed SKUs, can take more time.

Fixed Location Putaway

Keeping stock at different storage locations isn’t always practical, especially if you carry a wide variety of products with varying physical characteristics. If this is the case, the best thing to do is put stock at fixed locations for faster and easier retrieval.

For example, if you stock sweaters and summer shirts, you might want to place the sweaters on the lower racks of your warehouse due to their considerable weight and the shirts at the top.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Putaway Method

1. Warehouse Layout and Design

The physical layout of a warehouse significantly affects the putaway process. Efficiently designed warehouses facilitate smooth flow paths for goods, minimizing travel time and potential bottlenecks. Considerations like the placement of receiving areas, storage zones, and accessibility all play into how effectively goods can be put away. Optimizing the layout for putaway efficiency can lead to quicker processing times and reduced labor costs.

2. Inventory Characteristics

The nature of the inventory itself influences putaway strategies. Factors such as the size, weight, and turnover rate of items dictate their storage requirements and placement within the warehouse. High-turnover items, for instance, are often stored closer to the picking and shipping areas to expedite fulfillment. Understanding the characteristics of the inventory allows for a more tailored putaway process that can enhance overall warehouse efficiency.

3. Storage Equipment and Technology

The type of storage equipment and technology available in a warehouse plays a crucial role in determining putaway efficiency. Traditional shelving, pallet racking, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), and mobile shelving units offer varying levels of flexibility, capacity, and speed. Similarly, the use of technology like Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), barcode scanners, and RFID tags can streamline the putaway process, improving accuracy and reducing manual labor.

4. Labor Skills and Availability

The skills and availability of warehouse staff directly impact the effectiveness of the putaway process. Well-trained employees who are familiar with the warehouse’s layout, inventory, and technology can perform putaway tasks more efficiently and accurately. Additionally, labor availability can affect the ability to process incoming shipments promptly, making workforce management a key factor in putaway efficiency.

5. Seasonal Variations

Seasonal peaks in demand can significantly influence the putaway process. During high-volume periods, warehouses may receive an influx of goods, putting pressure on the putaway process and potentially leading to congestion and delays. Planning for these variations by adjusting labor levels, storage strategies, and prioritization can help mitigate the impact on putaway efficiency.

Manage Your Putaway Process With Uphance

Managing your warehouse putaway process manually can lead to costly errors and gross inefficiency. For this reason, you are better off leveraging a warehouse management software with putaway capabilities.

This is where Uphance comes in handy.

With Uphance, you can quickly and easily perform a putaway by moving stock to desired storage bins with just a few taps of the button. You have the option of doing this manually or scanning the items.

Ready to take Uphance for a spin? Schedule a demo right away to see things for yourself.

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