How you number your warehouse locations can have a major impact on the efficiency of your warehouse operations. You might have the best warehouse management system (WMS) technology, but if your layout and numbering scheme are haphazard, you'll still struggle to achieve maximum benefit from it.
Here are a couple quick pointers to help you when determining how to structure your numbering scheme.
Use numbers only. If you feel strongly about having alphanumeric locations, limit use of letters to some elements of the location, such as the levels in a rack or shelving, and not for the aisles. One example to illustrate this recommendation is that we do not quickly remember whether ‘M’ is before or after ‘P’ as we move from one location to another.
Plan your segments. Before starting to assign a location numbering system you will need to decide how many segments you want your location code to be. For example, you can have a location with multiple segments such as:
- Section or Zone - should be used to identify an area of the warehouse distinctly different from another. For example – Freezer versus Dry Goods, Retail versus Bulk, etc.
- Aisle - each aisle should be identified with a number. If you have more than 9 aisles then start your number with 01. This will give you up to 99 aisles. If you have over 99 aisles start your numbering with 001 for a max of 999 aisles.
- Rack - this is defined as an area between rack uprights. Some use the term ‘bay’ to describe the same spay. Select the conventional entry of the aisle and assign numbers to the racks beginning with 01 in ascending order with odd numbers on the left side and even numbers on the right side.
- Level or shelf - should be assigned and address from 1 to 9 ascending from the floor. If you have more than 9 levels you should start with 01.
- Position - assign numbers to each position ascending from 1 to 9, from left to right as you face the rack.
Here's an example of a location label where the format is Aisle - Rack - Level - Position. In this case, Aisle 01, Rack 02, Level 1, Position 1.
Keep it short and sweet. Notice that the more sections you have, the larger your location code will be. Longer location codes require larger labels, which can be more expensive. They can also subject you to greater risk of read errors if your labels become degraded.
Get your team involved. If the workers can easily understand your numbering scheme, you're well on your way to an effective location numbering system.
Need more help with your numbering project? We've consulted with hundreds of warehouse operations across a broad range of industries. Contact us for assistance!