In part one of this piece, we discussed a number of strategies you can follow to generate or reclaim space. We continue that in part two.
Saving Space Using Cells Manually
If you are managing via excel and napkins from the lunch room, than this exercise is really no different, just more time consuming and manual. Either by looking at each SKU or by memory figure out how many pieces need to be in each cell and what size cell is required and write this down next to your inventory list.
You can designate a cell by letter or number, but remember the fewer different cell sizes you have the easier it is to manage. The trade-off is of course to find the happy medium between putting everything in one cell size and creating 100 cell sizes. There is a point of diminishing value. Experience says seven is the magic number or darn close to it.

Once you have designated every SKU a cell size, calculate how many cells you need for each size. Figure out your linear storage calculation for each size (width). Now divide that by the width of section of rack and shelving. You now know how many shelves. Do this same exercise for the height of each cell size to determine shelf height.

Use the least amount of space above each box or tote as you can get away with. Only place totes with the same size on each cell to eliminate wasted shelf spacing.

Net Result of Using Cells
This exercise will save you anywhere from 25% to 35% of your wasted space today. Using designated cell sizes does mean some up front work to start, but it will provide tremendous space, productivity and accuracy increases every day going forward. Remember if your WMS/WCS or inventory system does not deal with item cube, there are standalone systems that will allow you to do this work as well. Simply it is probably one of the best investments of time and resources your facility will ever make.

Once you have cells the next step is to place similar used and velocity SKUs together. This exercise is called slotting. This can improve your performance levels by as much as an additional 50%... but will be a topic for another article.

Ed Romaine is the CMO-VP Marketing for Integrated Systems Design - ISD, which provides consulting and integration of cost effective automated order picking, packing and shipping systems for warehouses, distribution centers and manufacturers. He can be reached at or 215-431-4524 . Visit or