The views on fully chaotic storage are as varied as the opinions on the weather. In the old days, warehouses were organised according to the logic of the fairground – the epitome of order. As long as there was no warehouse management, that made sense. And this logic is still reflected today – in the domestic wardrobe – T-shirts on the left, jumpers on top, socks on the bottom. But is this really the best logic on a large scale and, above all, can the most efficient process for common order structures in online retail be based on it?
In professional logistics, people have been much further ahead for a long time – warehouse management systems have been enabling chaotic storage for decades. However, we are talking about “fully chaotic” storage here. This means not only assigning storage compartments chaotically, but also storing and picking items chaotically within storage compartments.
Chaos and efficiency seem to contradict each other – one might think – but this is not the case! When implemented holistically, there are often many positive effects:
- Higher storage performance and efficiency due to less sorting effort and shorter routes
- Increased storage density through optimal use of space
- Distinct resistance to article diversity due to mixed storage
- Significantly increased picking performance due to multiple picks (“hit rate”) – depending on the order structure (both goods-to-person and person-to-goods)
- With person-to-goods systems, greatly reduced walking distances due to multiple storage locations
- Integrated returns concepts and accelerated returns reshipment, thus often reduced capital commitment and smoothing of order quantities possible
- Ability to map fluctuating order structures, especially with topological integration of single-item storage locations
- and much more.
Unfortunately, considerations often fail already at the first considerations due to topics such as “search effort” or “warehouse organisation/administration”. This can usually be countered organisationally and often no systemic support needs to be created.
Only rarely are all aspects realised in a holistic approach and in full during implementation.