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Nine Signs it’s Time to Reslot Your DC

Ron Grove compares poor slotting to clogged arteries. The patient might not notice anything is wrong, but disaster looms.

(Boonton, NJ, September 19, 2014) — “Bad slotting is a lot like heart disease,” says Ron Grove, vice president of consulting firm TZA and a member of Distribution Center Management’s advisory board. “It’s the silent constrictor.”

Just as a cardiologist performs a stress test to look for symptoms of heart disease, you should be aware of the signs that your slotting issues are slowing production.

Grove offers nine warnings that it’s time to reslot:

Excessive replenishments. If you have an increasing number of replenishents relative to lines picked, you’re probably wasting time. Emergency replenishments are a warning sign.

Excessive pick travel. Are pickers forced to backtrack? Do they often travel in and out of other zones or aisles? Grove suggests conducting a trip audit to get a handle on travel times in your DC.

Damages. An increase in damage or a pattern of types of items being damaged is another sign that it’s time to reslot.

Self-routing. Are pickers choosing their own routes because they think they can do it better?

Excessive handling time. A spike in missed shipping times or an increase in order cycle times.

An out-of-kilter ratio of pickers to replenishers. The ratio should fall between 6 to 1 and 12 to 1. If you have too many replenishers relative to pickers, it’s time to look at slotting.

Dirt. Walk along the pick path. If you see dust and dirt on high-value products, it’s time for a reorganization.

Inventory profile changes. If your SKUs have decreased or your turn velocity has fallen off, you might have unused capacity.

Omni-channel distribution. Have you moved to a new distribution model that affects order profiles and shipping types? There’s a good chance the change requires adjustments to capacity, pick-line configuration, and location assignments.

Grove suggests mining your warehouse management system for data. Determine which metrics are most relevant to your slotting and examine them.

One piece of good news: Slotting tools have improved markedly. The downside is these tools require more effort to set up on the front end.

More on slotting, preparing for peak, and moving from reactive to proactive management, appear in the September issue of Distribution Center Management.


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For more than 40 years, Distribution Group publications have helped distribution center and warehouse managers increase productivity, cut costs, and meet increasing customer demands. Distribution Group publishes Distribution Center Management newsletter, books and reports, and a free e-newsletter.

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