In addition to applying OptiSlot to this project, Optricity worked with the company to reconfigure the placement and direction of case flow racks and pick path sequence to reduce over 10 percent of the total travel from the pick path. Tangentially, working with OptiSlot allowed for the creation of a separate pick path for caustic items, thereby isolating them from edibles.
“It’s not often you can find a tool that is sophisticated enough to solve your core problem, relatively easy to learn and use, and can help you execute the solution once identified,” Paolucci says. “We had high hopes for Optricity’s OptiSlot to do all those things, and OptiSlot and the Optricity team delivered beyond expectations.”
Smart & Final continues to work with Optricity to develop an application to integrate known future demand of promotional and seasonal items into the slotting tool so as to reslot items before the need arises.
Planning Pays Off
In addition to conducting a detailed evaluation to choose a slotting solution, Smart & Final took calculated steps to plan and ensure a successful reslot of its DC. To determine the core issues to be remedied, Smart & Final created a slotting committee, comprised of members of both DC and store operations.
According to Karen Korytowski, shift operations manager for Smart & Final, who helped to lead the reslot initiative, forming the slotting committee was essential to creating buy-in and completing the project successfully.
“We put together a group with an excellent understanding of the operation in order to determine groupings and stackability based on store layouts,” says Korytowski. “Forming this committee allowed us to communicate clearly and to promote the change.”
The slotting committee included hourly DC associates whose ground level perspectives and expertise helped validate decisions. Leadership for the slotting project also partnered with information systems in order to clean up the data required for the reslot.
Smart & Final’s planning also paid off when it was time to execute. Prior to conducting the actual reslot, Smart & Final used the software to run a number of “what if” analyses in order to determine what moves would most benefit the operation. Also, prior to the full reslot, Smart & Final conducted a test using a small portion of the DC.
While there are a number of slotting solutions on the market, OptiSlot takes a unique approach to the problem, according to Tim Riehl, vice president and principal, Optricity.
“With other solutions, if you want to group your items into different groups, whether it is retail groups or whatever, you have to follow a prescribed hierarchy and your data has to fit that hierarchy,” says Riehl. “We allow you to create whatever groupings of products you want in whatever hierarchy you want based off the data that you pass us.”
Smart & Final wanted to create various pick paths through the DC—to segregate product into even higher level groupings and force items into certain portions of the warehouse based on a series of criteria.
“With most slotting software, you would have to follow the WMS prescribed pick path through the warehouse and that’s how the items would get sequenced. We can do that, but we can also put another layer on top of that called a slot rating, and that puts another layer on top of the sequencing to force the items to first go into slots of a certain slot rating and then follow the prescribed sequence,” says Riehl. “So we were able to slice their warehouse into five or six different paths. So it was putting the items into a group based off of one criteria using the slot ratings and based off of another criteria, mirroring the retail stores.”