Putaway refers to all the warehouse processes that happen between receiving a supply of goods from a vendor and having it all stored away in racks and shelves in your warehouse. A typical putaway process starts with placing a purchase order with your vendor. After you receive the supply and finish running the necessary quality checks, you can start putting away the items into their allocated spaces. Let’s take a look at how putaway can benefit a warehouse and the different putaway methods available.
Benefits of putaway
Here’s why putaway is important for your business:
You’re making it easier to put away the next batch of items, since you know where to place them,
With a putaway process in place, you can make sure that you are accounting for every product.
It reduces the chances of misplaced or lost items and gives you a clean and organized warehouse.
It can help you speed up your picking process while fulfilling an order since you know exactly where each product is, provided you keep track of their locations.
This is especially helpful in cases where a warehouse is running low in stock for a particular product and needs it to be replenished fast before a customer places an order for it.
An organized putaway ensures that you’re using your storage space as effectively as you can.
Types of putaway methods
There are 4 main types of putaway methods. Putaway can be based on the purchase order, the SKUs of the products, the type of the products, or where they need to be stored. Let’s take a look at each method in detail:
Based on purchase order
Some warehouses choose to buy from just one vendor, while others buy from several. Regardless of the number of vendors you buy from, this method of putting away starts by analyzing your purchase order(s) and grouping all the items that are stored near each other, together. So by grouping them together at the beginning of the process, you can put them away together in one trip. Putting away based on purchase order makes it easy to weed out any mistakes or incorrect items, since you will have to look at every item in order to group the similar ones.
Based on SKU
Putaway based on SKU is where warehouses allocate space for their products based on their SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). The SKU of an item is determined by characteristics such as its brand, manufacturer, colour, size, and style. So this method is where you putaway items that have similar SKUs, near each other. It’s typically used by warehouses that hold large quantities of products that share the same SKU, so that by storing them near each other, they’re easier to find.
Based on product type
This method puts away items in a specific location based on criteria such as the type and size of product, how frequently it is purchased, etc. For instance, if you receive some blocks of ice, then they will need to be put away in a freezer. Or say you have products that need to be stored in locations that are difficult to reach without the help of some equipment, say the top of a large rack. To reach this, some warehouses call trained workers that know how to operate the equipment needed to reach these storage locations, to get the job done. Putting away based on product type is the method to go for if you’re looking to use your warehouse storage space effectively, but make sure that you have a warehouse management software on hand to manage the slotting processes
With the other putaway methods, you have to sort through the items based on some factor before storing them. With direct putaway, you can store an entire batch of received goods in its allocated area, instead of sorting through them and putting each item away in a separate area. Warehouses typically use this method when they receive a batch of items that are all meant for the same customer. Since they will be sending the entire batch of goods together, it makes sense to store them all together as well. This method is also used when warehouses receive a batch of goods that all belong in one particular zone of the warehouse. In cases like these, all the items are heading in the same direction, so there is no need to unpack and sort through the batch. The good thing about direct putaway is that it requires minimal handling of the products, which significantly reduces the risk of damage or breakage within the warehouse.
Although it may seem like a minor part of your warehouse operation, the putaway process is very essential for a warehouse. When you put away a batch of products, you’re basically allocating an area of your warehouse for each item, and then making sure they get there. This makes it easier to put away the next batch of items that you receive, ensures that you’re considering every product that enters your warehouse, brings down the chances of misplaced or lost items, and so much more. If you don’t already have a putaway process in place, then it’s time you started looking into it. Take a look at the different types of putaway methods that we’ve covered and pick what works for you.