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These days you’d be hard-pressed to find a warehouse that doesn’t engage in picking of some type. As the primary goal of nearly every warehouse is to store products until they’re needed, whether by customers or other distribution locations, picking methods are a commonly-needed asset across a variety of warehouses and distribution centers.

While plenty has been written about picking methods, not nearly as much time is spent discussing replenishment methods, which are arguably just as important. Without replenishment, warehouses would find themselves running out of product pretty quickly – which, as you can imagine, is going to have a negative effect on business.

There’s three main methods of replenishment, each with their own strengths, methods of use, and best times for implementation:


Demand Replenishment

Demand replenishment tends to work best in situations where picking is significantly restricted, or if in cases where items don’t move as fast as others. Strict item rotation is another common reason to use demand replenishment to ensure newer inventory isn’t picked and shipped with older inventory, such as in the case of food storage.

Demand replenishment does require good use of available space and real estate, however. You may want to set up an area of separate wire shelving or metal industrial shelves to help track the needed replenishments and provide space for any replenishments that might come up on short notice such as unexpected sales/demand spikes.


Routine/Triggered Replacement

Triggered replacement, also known as “routine” or “opportunistic” replacement, is similar to demand replenishment except it specifically focuses on a designated threshold to signal the need for replenishment. Once existing inventory meets a minimum quantity of items, products are marked for replenishment in whatever inventory control system your warehouse uses. This method is generally best suited for situations where the product follows predictable sales curves or specific season demands, and can be slotted for longer periods of time than other products with less-predictable sales demands.

It does require that you have enough available work space to keep track of the products, and may require the use of pallet racks to accommodate everything that needs to be counted.


Top-Off Replenishment

Top-off replenishment is the more proactive of the three methods, as it requires frequent smaller replenishments instead of waiting for an item to reach its minimum or maximum thresholds (often called a budget). Top-off replenishment is run on a set schedule or in batches, and is set to add items at regular intervals instead of waiting for a minimum threshold to be hit. This works best for items that are constant, steady sellers that will always need small replenishments through their lifecycle, and can help to both improve task management and efficiency on the floor as well as decrease the amount of time that equipment is ‘deadheading’ in your facility.

Of course, it should be mentioned that not every warehouse just needs to commit to one method, and many distribution centers have found success by blending each approach to find the best method for each item. It’s something that will take time and testing, but your processes will be better off for it!

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