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Warehouse Inventory Control Ideas

Written by Arturo on May 1, 2011 – 3:40 pm - (17536 views)

Here are some ideas on how to control your warehouse inventory.  Better inventory control will improve your warehouse efficiency bylooking for products stored in a warehouse

  • Reducing the time spent looking for products in the warehouse
  • Accurate inventory reduces the accurate size of the inventory and makes it easier to manage
  • Increase inventory turns
  • Improve warehouse capacity

Do you have a locator system?

With an inventory locator system, you will have an easier time finding the product.  You will have happier customers because you will be able to accurately know if you can fulfill an order for them.  Knowing when an item was ordered, received, put away, picked and shipped will greatly improve your ability to manage your inventory.


Many warehouses start off with storing product and keeping track of it by memory.  We do this at home, why wouldn’t it work at the warehouse?


  • Flexible storage system
  • Low capital outlay.


Memory location systems work until one of the following occurs:

  • The person with the memory of where a product was placed does not come to work.
    • His colleagues will spend precious time searching for the product.
  • Product lines (SKU count) increases to such a level that no one can humanly keep track.

Fixed Location

Having fixed locations in your warehouse means you assign a place for a particular product.  With every product having a home, inventory location is simplified.  Using the example of a kitchen, if you are looking for a spice, you go to the spice rack – simple.


The positives for having fixed warehouse locations include:

  • You can map out your warehouse and create a home for all your products.
  • It provides for good organization.
  • Storing by family groups, products can be found quickly.
  • Training employees to find the product is simplified.


The negatives include:

  • Not efficient for space
    • Out of stock means unused space.
    • Locations are sized for maximum inventory levels, which means the warehouse is always (on average) 50% full.
  • Restocking can be time consuming as a product must go in a particular spot, great care must be given to FIFO and finding room for incoming inventory.

Zoned putaway

The hybrid of the fixed location and the memory location is the zoned location strategy.  This is where a product is assigned to a general area, and the material handler find an open slot to put the pallet away.  The pros and cons of zoned location are:


  • This system has the flexibility of the memory storage method, but is easier for locating a product.
    • Both memory and logic are the basis for finding a product.
    • A material handler can deduce, where a product might be kept.


  • This system still relies on memory.
  • When storage slot is not available in the zone, an alternate location must be selected.
  • Hunting for an empty location and a missing pallet will consume labor and time.

Random Putaway (locator)

Full random putaway is like the memory system, however, software is used to remember locations.


  • Space is maximized.
  • Time spent searching for stored pallets (products) is reduced.
  • Inventory management is made easier.


  • Data entry hours are now required.
  • Computer location lags actual location based on data entry.

Bar coding will create real time location inventory control for your warehouse, but requires investment and software.  There are then Pros and Cons for bar code scanners, to be discussed in another posting.

System for Tracking Product in the Warehouse (picking address)

When tracking product in your warehouse, you should track the following areas in your location codes:

    • Some warehouse managers choose to assign numbers to the row of rack: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…
      • They assign even numbers to even the right side of the aisle and odd numbers to the left side of the aisle
      • This works best for picking to conveyors.  Routing picks down a single row or rack works best where crossing the aisle is not desired.
    • Some choose to assign a number to the aisle (sometimes spelt isle)
    • This allows for cross aisle picking using low and high level orderpickers.
      • Increases productivity and is easier to sequence picks for minimizing travel.
    • Starting at the dock door side of the building, locations begin with 1,2,3
    • Some choose to assign even and odd numbers to bays to distinguish left or right side of the aisle
    • separated by intersecting aisles or tunnels
    • Ground level is 1, next level is 2, etc.
    • left side of the beam starts at 1
    • right side is 2 if two locations per beam
    • if there are more than one pick positions on the beam, assign higher numbers.


A pick address might look like this:

    Rack Row



    Sections of rack


    Side of the bay (left or right)

Have we missed anything in this conversation?  Post your comments below.

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Posted in Order picking, Slotting and Organization, Storage, Training & Education, Warehouse Basics | 1 Comment »
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