SMALL PARTS STORAGE - Where Do You Put All Those Parts?

By Scott Hennie, MH Engineered Solutions President

Today's consumer wants just the right size, color, and style for the right season! This is not a new phenomenon but an on-going challenge. How do you store all those parts and pick, pack, and ship them efficiently? What do you do when your procurement dictates large quantities, but your demand doesn't match? How do you make use of the height in your building without compromising safety or efficiency? All of these questions point to answers that may be very different from your large aisle, a pallet rack storage system that was put in when the business first started up.

The science of Material Storage tells us how many cubes we have of an item and what type of storage equipment to put the item in. The ART of Material Storage allows us to design a storage and retrieval system that supports our customer demand and contributes operating savings to the bottom line. It is fairly simple to look at HOW MUCH of a product you need to store and find a storage system that will support that volume. The real trick comes in designing a system that optimizes every aspect of receiving, storing, picking, packing, and shipping that item - then multiply that by the number of items your business supports!

Gains in the efficiency of receiving and put-away may compromise the labor required to pick, pack, and ship an item. When does the company make a profit - when inventory comes in the door or when orders ship out? More focus should be placed on how to efficiently move orders out the door than how to store the sheer cube of an item. Although we don't necessarily want to touch an item more than we have to, the cost of a movement of bulk to a pick location may be a fraction of the efficiency gained in picking the item from a forward pick location.