Minimize carrying cost in a distribution center
Running a distribution center successfully requires minimizing carrying costs. To be efficient, distribution centers want to fully stock all of their inventory locations with rapidly moving items. However, individual orders can include a wide and unpredictable variety of perishable and non-perishable goods. In addition, the center may have many order fulfillment facilities: conveyors, carousels with bins of inventory, aisles of bins, as well as pods. A pod, for example, can be considered as a group of inventory locations serviced from the same stop on a transport system in your center. Given these complications, what is the most efficient way to select and move inventory?
One invented integrated order fulfillment system provides you with a comprehensive database that specifies the locations and expiration dates of every item in the center. One solution guides the system to choose the pod that currently stocks the largest number of items in an order, and then moves a container to that pod first. For an ordered item stored in multiple locations in the pod, the system can be programmed to select the location with fewer units to fulfill the order, a low-unit-count preference.
For perishable goods, you may want the expiration date of an item to override the low-unit-count preference. In this case, the system allows you to fill each customer order with units having the earliest expiration times. However, units too close to their expiration dates would not make a pre-determined cut-off standard, and would not be selected for the order. For the same perishables stored in several locations but with expiration dates all falling within the same time window (e.g. with 1 - 3 days), the needed item can be taken first from the location with the fewest units.
These solutions work equally well in centers with a number of ambiences (e.g. room temperature storages, refrigerated storages, humidors, wine cellars, and freezers), each with its own collection of pods.