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Warehousing Myth: Grouping Like Products

Inventory bins in warehouse

Let’s review another common warehouse myth: It is “better” to group like products together. As with any idea, there is nothing WRONG with this one. It is just that this is not always a good idea, and depending on your product, it might be a bad idea.

Grouping like parts can be a good idea if those parts are typically ordered together. So the good part about that scenario is that since I am already here, I can pick all of the similar items at one time. While that achieves an efficiency, it can also create a problem if the items are too similar.

Assume for this discussion that my products are nuts and bolts. How many times have you gone to the hardware store where all the nuts and bolts are located right next to each other? Nice, right? You went looking for the nuts and bolts, and they were all there, right next to each other. But, have you ever gotten home and found that one of the four nuts you picked were fine instead of coarse thread?  How were you supposed to know that someone had accidently put the fine thread back in the wrong box? They looked identical when you picked them out.

The problem with putting similar items together is that you actually increase the probability of picking errors. If the items look too similar, it is too easy for the picker to grab the wrong item and not know the difference. If you have nearly identical products located right next to each other, even your most careful picker can accidently reach and grab from the wrong bin and not know they have picked the wrong item.

When setting up a warehouse, it is a fine line between maximizing efficiency and minimizing error. Sometimes the two are at odds with each other. Try to find a balance, where similar parts are close but not necessarily right next to each other. The more the products look the same, the more important it is that there is space between those similar items. They don’t have to be far apart, but something different should separate the items so that the inattentive or hurried grab doesn’t pick the “same thing only different” item by mistake.

Need help getting your warehousing processes in order? Talk to the experts at ArcherPoint.

Read more blogs on this topic:

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