Slotting pallets

The forward-pick area for pallets

A fast-pick or forward-pick area is one from which it is especially convenient to pick, but which must be restocked from a reserve storage area. A forward-pick area holding pallets might be

The ground floor of pallet rack is a forward picking area

In the leftmost aisle of the figure above, you see a worker picking from the forward-pick area, which in this example is the ground floor, where it is most convenient to pick. In the middle aisle, a worker is picking from one of the less-convenient, higher levels. (This is a more expensive pick because it requires additional, vertical travel plus a special person-aboard lift truck.) In the third aisle, a worker is restocking the forward-pick (ground floor) area by dropping a pallet from above.

To get maximum value from the forward area, one must stock it with the right skus. These are not simply the most popular, because volume-ordered matters as well. A sku that is ordered in larger volumes will have to be restocked more frequently than a sku that is of identical popularity but ordered in smaller quantities.

How large should the forward-pick area be? What skus should be stored there and in what quantities?

This program considers both popularity and quantity-ordered to answer these questions specifically for a forward-pick area in which cartons or pallets are pulled from full-pallet storage. (A companion program slots a forward pick area in which pieces or cartons are picked from carton storage.)

Run it from here!

Please read the license and disclaimers, then click to launch the latest version via Java Webstart:

button to launch program

Recent changes to the Java security model and to the Georgia Tech server require you to give explicit permission to run programs from the Georgia Tech site. Here is how to do that:

These instructions work with all browsers except Internet Explorer, so you will have to use an alternative such as Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. And should the program not start automatically, locate the jnlp file in your Downloads folder and open it with Java Webstart.

Also note that some company firewalls may still prevent Java Webstart programs from running, in which case see your system administrator.

You must return to this page and click on the button again each time you want to run the program. The first time you run it, Java Webstart downloads the program files to your machine. Thereafter, it will first download any available upgrades before starting the application. If there have been no upgrades, the application will start immediately.

Need Java?

This program is written in Java so it runs on any of Windows, Mac OS 10, or Linux. If you do not already have Java installed, get the latest version of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) here.

How to use the program

The basic steps of use appear as numbered tabs in the program, which will help you follow the numbered steps:

  1. Load a table of sku descriptions, such as this sample.
  2. Describe the labor economics (estimated person-minutes for picking, restocking) and then optimize the slotting.
  3. Examine summary statistics.
  4. Save the detailed results.

The most time-consuming part of using this program is getting the required data, which includes name, popularity and total demand of each of the skus. Once you have the data prepared, the program will compute optimal slotting strategies within seconds, even for tens of thousands of skus.

The mathematical model on which the optimization is based is fully documented in our book.