Dynamic Slotting is a technique available in some Warehouse Management Systems in which a forward pick location is created dynamically, rather than being dedicated to a single SKU.
This capability is needed in two primary situations: The first is when there aren’t enough pick locations to handle all SKUs a DC carries, so some groups of locations for forward-case and/or piece-picking are left empty, awaiting temporary assignment of SKUs, based on demand for some period, such as a wave or a shift.
When the WMS sees there is no assigned location for a SKU in a wave or order pool, it will assign those SKUs to empty locations and create tasks to move the inventory to each location needed to meet the demand.
From there, it’s like a normal pick from a slotted location – the one difference is that when the picks are complete and the location is now empty again, it is freed from the temporary SKU assignment and is available for another dynamic slotting process. If any inventory remains in the location after the picking demand is met, the WMS will direct that inventory to be put back into reserve storage.
The second scenario for use of dynamic slotting is when demand for a SKU in a wave or general order pool far exceeds the storage capacity of the forward pick location for that SKU. This could mean many replenishments would be needed to meet all that demand.
That volume spike for a SKU can happen based just on the natural variation in demand, or be the result of promotional activity. A WMS capable of supporting dynamic slotting should have parameters that control under what conditions – for example, the percent of demand above a slot’s capacity – dynamic slotting is triggered.
Here again, we need some empty slots – in some cases, these may be simply identified locations on the floor near the active pick area. For example, a company might drop a full pallet of cases for piece picking on the floor or in a pallet position, rather than try to pick eaches for a suddenly high demand SKU out of carton flow rack, due to the replenishment requirements.
This becomes a temporary, secondary location. The WMS should then direct pickers to the secondary location – replenished itself as needed – until demand is consumed.
As in the first cases, when the work is done, the dynamic slot it freed to be used dynamically by another SKU, and any remaining inventory will be re-stored in reserve.
Dynamic slotting is an advanced WMS capability – and requires some expertise to get it right.
A WMS that gives you flexible dynamic slotting capabilities can reduce picking and replenishment costs substantially – not everyone needs it, but many companies that could benefit from dynamic slotting do not do so because their system won’t support it.