What is The Right Order Fulfillment Solution for Your Warehouse Layout Design? Answer These Questions


warehouse layout designFinding the right order fulfillment solution for your warehouse will not only affect loading and shipping times but your return on investment as well. There are a number of ways in which your ROI could be positive or negative—for instance, using a very automated GTP system but only having one to three peaks per year could contribute to a negative ROI while utilizing a GTP system in a large facility will decrease travel time and could yield a positive ROI. This is but one example of the different factors that come to play when deciding on the right order fulfillment solution to incorporate into your warehouse layout design. Read on and answer these questions about GTP and PTG systems. In doing so, you will be that much closer to choosing the right one for your warehouse operation.

1. How Large is Your Warehouse Facility?

It’s common sense; the larger your warehouse facility is, the longer it will take to retrieve an item. Even if you have a large picking labor force, using a PTG system, it will take workers longer to travel to and from the loading docks.

This will affect productivity and potentially decrease shipping times and possibly affect job satisfaction. With this type of system, you run the risk of several infrequent daily picks, which only affects productivity even more.

This cons, however, may not be a problem (or depending on the business may even be almost non-existent), especially if the facility is small and/or has densely slotted pick engines.

With GTP systems, the work comes to the workstations. Using this system, travel time is decreased. Because of the less travel time, productivity increases, not to mention a decrease in FTG requirements.

If your facility is large, a GTP system could be beneficial, specifically for slow-moving SKUs.

2. How Scalable is Your Business?

As you probably know, it is important that your warehouse operations is flexible to accommodate business growth, changing business requirements, and SKU proliferation, as these will alter order fulfillment.

In general, with GTP systems, all you need to do is add another aisle and your automation will do the rest. As with PTG systems, you can add pick modules vertically; this is easier and perhaps even more effective for facilities that have a lot of vertical space.

However, it depends on what your productivity goals are and how much available funds you have, as GTP systems—especially very automated ones—require a lot upfront.

3. How Well-Trained Are Your Employees?

The employees’ training level, not to mention your system design and technology, will determine if a PTG system positively (or negatively) affects your order accuracy.

While, in theory, it is assumed that GTP systems are more accurate than GTP systems, in reality, both types yield a roughly 99% accuracy rate.

Of course though, if your employees aren’t well-trained with your picking techniques or system, the PTG, whether pick-to-voice or pick-to-light driven, may yield a lower accuracy rating.

Ergonomics Matters

Training doesn’t just pertain to introducing employees to your general picking method. It includes teaching employees the safe movements to make when picking product. In doing this, it lowers the chances of employees becoming injured and needing to take time away from work to heal.

This is bad for both the employee and the employer. The employee has to deal with the stress of not working and endure the healing process. The employer has to spend more money either continuing warehouse operations with “one man (or woman) down” or spend time and money on training a new replacement employee.

4. What is Your DC Cube Utilization Like?

In other words, are you making the most of your space? Often times, it’s easy to see excess inventory on the ground and assume you need to rent out a larger warehouse facility.

However, you may be surprised to know that most likely you have several feet of vertical space you can make use of, which will positively affect your DC cube utilization. (DC cube utilization refers to the percentage of space that is being utilized.)

In a nutshell, usually, GTP systems are more condensed than PTG systems, which is a horizontal space utilization pro. Essentially, your GTP system is taking up less space.

Vertically speaking, facilities with high clear heights may benefit from GTP systems simply because automation can reach what pickers aren’t able to reach in PTG retrieval systems.

Of course, you may have to re-evaluate if you have a facility with lower clear heights within picking reach.

5. What Would Happen If Your Order Fulfillment System Shut Down?

Peak times are more important than you think when it comes to PTG and GTP systems. While normally GTP systems are very effective, when they are experiencing technological glitches or—at the worst—shut down, you probably won’t be able to access your inventory.

Even if you have a 99% uptime rate, that still calculates to roughly 3 days out of the year when your facility is unable to operate. This means customer orders won’t arrive on time, which could negatively affect customer satisfaction rates.

Then, take into consideration, a potential shutdown during the most peak periods. Even if you only have your highest peaks once or twice a year, you could still risk losing out.

This is where PTG systems come in handy since they are more manual. Even when PTG systems do malfunction, your labor force will still have access to pick facings, which means orders can still be fulfilled.

6. Are Most of Your Orders in the “Hyper-Mover” SKUs Area?

If this is the case, you may want to consider using batch picking methods along with a GTP system since GTP systems can accomplish roughly 500 (or more) lines per hour (which tends to be more than what PTG systems can achieve).

(Speaking of picking methods, check out our article, “How to Improve Warehouse Operations with the Right Picking Technique.”)

Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean GTP systems are the go-to; it is possible for PTG systems, depending on equipment, technology, and order profile, can perform just as well or even better than GTP systems.

It comes down to theory versus reality; yes, in theory, GTP systems may out-product PTG systems, but in reality, this isn’t always the case.

7. Do you have access to available funds? And, if so, how much?

Because of the software for GTP systems (especially if you want full automation), you may have to shell out a lot more than if you were to originally invest in a PTG system.

While short-term you may profit, in the long-run—given you want to maximize vertical DC cube utilization—a GTP system may be the way to go for your warehouse layout design.

8. Do You Have Several Peak Seasons?

Every business has at least one peak season during the year. If this is the case for your business, you may want to consider using a PTG system instead of a GTP system.

The reason being, as we mentioned previously, GTP systems can be a larger initial investment. While very automated GTP systems could make your life easier during those peak seasons, if they are infrequent, you may end up churning up a negative return on investment.

Consequently, with PTG systems, all you would have to do is hire more labor during that once or twice a year peak/peaks. In this sense, you would most likely yield a positive ROI. (Of course, taking other factors—such as level of training— into consideration.)

Final Thoughts: Which System Positively Impacts Your Warehouse Layout Design the Most?

GTP system? Or PTG system? Which system is right for your warehouse layout design? Ultimately it comes down to a number of factors, from the size of your warehouse facility to the number or orders that are filled to how many employees you’ve hired and available funds you have.

That said, we recommend that you seek out a professional who can run an in-depth analysis that will determine which system would be the best for your warehouse facility. What has your experience been like using the GTP or PTG systems? Which type of system do you recommend? How has it impacted your business? Leave a comment below!

Warehouse Layout Design: Summary

  • Determine how large your warehouse layout design is; if it’s large, you may want to consider GTP over PTG systems
  • If you intend on having a highly scalable business, you may want to look into the GTP system
  • The level of training will depend on whether the GTP system is right; the more well-trained your employees are, the more beneficial a PTG system is
  • If most of your orders are towards the “hyper-mover” SKU area, you may want to consider GTP systems; however, in reality, PTG systems are just as good
  • The number of funds you have will determine if you could afford the higher initial costs for the GTP systems
  • If you only have one or two peak seasons, PTG systems may be right for your business
  • Which system you choose ultimately doesn’t just depend on one of these factors but takes several into account

To learn more about GTP and PTG systems and which one is best for your warehouse layout design, contact Specialized Storage Solutions!