Maximizing Shelving Efficiency

A planned approach to shelving is required in order to achieve maximum use from your installation.  The efficiency of a shelving unit is based on the effectiveness of the personnel picking and storing inventory, and, as such, ease of access to inventory is of the utmost importance.  Several factors must be taken into account when planning your inventory storage.

Size/Weight/Depth
In order to determine the optimum location for parts, the physical properties of each part being stored must be analyzed.  First, determine the size and weight of the part.  This will be a key factor in the elevation and depth at which it is stored.

The comfort and efficiency of the material handling operator must be taken into consideration when determining part location.  Large, light items should be stored above the shoulder — large items are easily identified, and light items can easily be handled from this position.  Small items should be stored between the operator’s shoulder and hip.  This allows the operator to see into small openings or down into boxes, and still be able to lift and place parts.  Large, heavy items are best stored below hip level.  This allows the operator to use leg muscles for lifting.

Storage depth should be determined by the ability of the operator to see and reach parts.  Small items are most effectively stored at shallow depths, to reduce the need for reaching.  As the length of the parts increases, so should the storage unit.  This system allows for the most efficient use of the operator.

Activity Level

Statistically, 80% of activity encompasses 20% of inventory, and this must be taken into account when placing parts.  When your parts are divided into three areas based on height and weight, they can then be divided, by part number, into areas of high and low activity.  High-activity parts are best stored in the area from the operator’s shoulder to hip.  This reduces fatigue brought on by excess movement.  This method of organization can also be applied to storage section locations in a floor plan.

Selecting The Right Product
Each part must have a seperate location in the storage system.  This provides a fixed location that can be identified and cross-indexed by part number.  The selection of the storage location can be made from a variety of storage products.  Small items can be stored in boxes, drawers, and bin boxes.  Items of average size can be stored in large boxes, deep drawers, and divided shelf openings.  Large parts are best stored in divided shelf spaces or on complete shelf locations.

Continuing Storage Success
The initial success of your inventory storage begins with selection of the appropriate storage media.  The continuing success relies on maintaining inventory control.  The user must evaluate changes in types of parts and number of items sorted, and adjust media and locations accordingly.  This is the key to the long-term success of existing installations, as well as the justification for the creation of new applications.

Whatever your storage needs, Material Flow is available to help with a wide variety of shelving solutions.