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Going Lean in the Warehouse, Forget Physical Inventories

Cycle counting fast moving SKUs six times a year may make more sense for your distribution center according to industry expert, Jon Schreibfeder, of Effective Inventory Management.

(Boonton, NJ, April 5, 2012) — When Jon Schreibfeder visited a consumer goods distribution center last year, several of his pet peeves jumped out.

Fast-moving items were scattered throughout the warehouse, leading pickers on far too many long trips to fill orders. There were obvious opportunities to upgrade material handling systems. And the shopping carts used by pickers did little to make workers' lives easier.

Schreibfeder, head of Effective Inventory Management, suggested a number of changes at the 300,000-square-foot warehouse, including a change in the way the DC was handling its physical inventories.

In the April issue of Distribution Center Management newsletter, he notes that full physical inventories have fallen out of favor because they're so time-consuming. And while they are ideal for counting slow-moving items, they're not as good for analyzing fast-moving product.

Schreibfeder prefers cycle counting and suggests counting fast movers six times a year. Because the focus is on fast movers, cycle counting can help you identify accuracy problems in your most important SKUs earlier than a traditional full physical inventory.

Details on some of Schreibfeder's additional strategies for going lean including finding time to reorganize the warehouse, making fast-moving items easy to reach, and getting rid of the slowest movers, appears in the April issue of Distribution Center Management.

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