Slotting: A bumper crop of benefits for Nature’s Best

Warehouse management solution uses several slotting principles to control accuracy, production and overall pallet quality.

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Nature’s Best is a privately held distributor of natural and organic grocery products that supplies retailers in 11 western states. But the company’s passion for its product and growing success caused new challenges to crop up. For example, it had outgrown its distribution center, and distribution operations were reliant on an inadequate management solution.

While building a new 410,000- square-foot DC in Chino, Calif., to tackle its space issue, the company looked a supply chain solution to optimize operations, increase efficiency and create a distribution model that could be replicated in other regions.  They chose a warehouse management solution (Manhattan Associates) that offered a low cost of ownership and required minimal customization.  Another beneficial component is a slotting feature used to manage the company’s 18,500 SKUs.

Prior to implementation, product was stored randomly within the mechanized facility that no longer fit the company’s current business model or product mix.  Now, fast moving SKUs (20%) and slow moving SKUs (80%) are slotted by movement (or hits), density class and volume.  Product weight is also considered from a placement perspective within the pick aisles. 

Within the new configuration, the company can better control accuracy, production and overall pallet quality. Additionally, product damage has been reduced by 30%.  And, as expected, says Jim Beck, Nature’s Best president and CEO, selection productivity has increased by as much as 10%.  Safety, quality matrices and customer service, including shortages and mispicks, have also improved, Beck reports.

“Slotting has improved so much of our already improved operations,” says Beck.  And, when looking at the overall warehouse management solution, he says, “It all paid off extremely quickly.  We started seeing improvement four months after implementation.  It usually takes three or four times that long—and I have yet to see any limits to the volume we can process.” 

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About the Author

Lorie King Rogers
Lorie King Rogers, associate editor, joined Modern in 2009 after working as a freelance writer for the Casebook issue and show daily at tradeshows. A graduate of Emerson College, she has also worked as an editor on Stock Car Racing Magazine.

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