Put-Away: The Initial Step Towards Warehouse Efficiency!

In the realm of warehouse management, achieving consistent high performance, meeting peak order volumes, and facilitating urgent orders pose ongoing challenges. These goals are attainable only through meticulously planned and executed warehouse operations.

Among the various warehouse processes, put-away holds a pivotal position as the second step in the warehouse journey, following the receiving phase.

Put-away involves the transfer of inspected cargo from the staging area to designated storage locations, ensuring alignment between physical storage and data captured in the warehouse management system (WMS).

Here’s a breakdown of the put-away process:

  1. Storage Location Assignment: The decision on cargo storage locations can be system-directed or user-defined. System-directed put-away involves the WMS selecting storage locations based on predefined strategies. However, forklift drivers may override these suggestions. The WMS generates pallet identifications for scanning and confirmation at storage locations.
  2. Execution Methods: In paper-based operations, storage assignment is typically user-defined. Forklift drivers may opt to allocate pallets to empty locations and record them on tally sheets. Alternatively, warehouse zones may be designated, with supervisors providing location maps for each rack, guiding forklift drivers’ put-away activities.
  3. Process Variations: Put-away processes can be one-stage or two-stage affairs. For pallet racks and bulk floor storage, forklifts can transport pallets directly from the staging area to storage locations. In contrast, in warehouses with high racks served by very narrow aisle (VNA) trucks, pallets are first moved to aisle entrances before being transferred to storage locations by VNA trucks.

Lessons Learned:

  • Pick & Drop Buffer: Best-practice warehouses incorporate pick & drop buffers at aisle beginnings for both put-away and picking operations. This setup minimises lead times by reducing travel distances and enhances efficiency through simplified control and reduced waiting times.
  • Team Coordination: Put-away and picking teams often overlap, sharing responsibilities for cargo transfer between staging areas and storage. Priority is given to clearing the staging area promptly to prevent blockages at loading bays, which are critical bottlenecks in warehouse operations. While put-away tasks are typically completed before the end of a shift, picking tasks may take precedence to ensure timely delivery schedules.

In essence, mastering the put-away process is crucial for optimising warehouse operations, reducing lead times, and enhancing overall efficiency.


Dr. Marco Tieman

CEO, LBB International