For the purposes of improving warehouse efficiency, a locations scheme or stock locator system is the way in which your employees will know where to go when they are ordered to pick a specific product. Stock locator systems can be either manual or automated with the help of a Warehouse Management System. Automated stock locator systems make for a more fluid system with far fewer errors.
The first important element of your stock location system is the location placards or labels. These labels typically feature an alphanumeric string that looks something like XX-XX-XX-XX. Ideally, it includes a barcode that is machine readable and may have a 3-4 digit verification number. The long string of characters is used to indicate warehouse floor, aisle, shelf and location. When your employee arrives at the correct location according to their work order they will either scan the item to the location, or scan the item out of the location.
The other important element of your stock locator system is the pick tickets or handheld devices that display the orders to be fulfilled. With a WMS, your pickers should always be directed to a specific location because the system tracks where each product is currently located. In some cases, each location can be dedicated to one SKU, and remain static. This is most common in systems that rely on manual entry. In other cases, incoming product may be placed in any open stock location and the WMS is responsible for telling pickers where that product is after an order has been placed. Even in cases where stock locations for pickable product are static, overstock locations usually remain fluid and unassigned. This helps improve warehouse efficiency during peak seasons when there may be too much overstock to fit in a single assigned bay.
Your stock location system is the map that your employees need to put away and pick items. It can also be used to manage inventory counts. Stock location systems come in many forms, and they have improved greatly in recent years to support better warehouse efficiency and productivity goals. The addition of the WMS has made stock location systems easier to use and more effective than ever before.