Constructing a “heat map” of the warehouse

A tool for visualizing warehouse activity

If you draw the layout of a warehouse within an MS Excel spreadsheet and label the storage locations, this program will color the map according to any table of data, such as historical frequency of visits. Figure 1 below is an example.

A heat map of	warehouse picking

Figure 1: The darker storage locations were visited most frequently.

This can be used to display any location-based statistic, such as annual pick-lines, cubic volume of product removed, frequency of restock, weight of stored product, age of stored product, travel distance from shipping, etc.

Download the program

Please read the license and disclaimers, then click here to download the program. It will appear as a jar file, which most systems will run if you double-click on it.

If the program does not run, make sure you have the latest version of Java installed and your security settings allow execution of Java programs.

How to use the program

  1. Draw a map of the warehouse within a spreadsheet and label ever section of rack/shelving with a unique address. Save the result in xlsx format (the newest MS Excel format), as in this example. (You need do this only once.)
  2. Prepare a location-based statistic that you want to see, such as pick-lines per section of rack/shelving. This should be formatted as a text file in csv format, with each line containing the unique address of one section of rack/shelving, followed by a comma, followed by the statistic of interest, such as this example, which lists the number of picks at each location during an interval of time.
  3. Start the Heat Map program and follow the three steps (load the data file, choose the color scheme, color and save the map).


Remember that you can display any location-based statistic. Figures 1–4 show some examples.

This heat map shows all levels of the rack.

Figure 3: This heat map shows all levels of the rack so that you can see not only where but how high the picks were during the year. The red square to the far right represents a pallet location on the 2nd level that was visited frequently despite being far from shipping (top left).

If you make an interesting map, please send us a copy.

You can find more information and tools like this in our book.


Can I use some other spreadsheet program?

Yes, you can use any spreadsheet program that can read and write files in MS Excel xlsx format.

Why did the program change some of the formatting in cells that it shaded?

Sometimes you may need to touch up the final result to ensure that attributes, such as alignment or orientation of text, are correct.

Why won’t the program read my data file?

Did you forget to prepare it in csv format?

Heat map of age
	of product at each location

Figure 4: The shaded storage locations hold the oldest pallets and reveal how obsolete product is forcing increased travel.