Warehousing and Logistics 101

ambientOf course one of the reasons you hand over warehousing and 3rd party logistics to Distributor’s Terminal is so you have problem solvers on board who simply know the language, all the ins and outs, and they know how it should all work to your best advantage. We serve you. And you serve the business – not the warehousing or logistics. While you may not be involved in the day to day of warehousing and logistics, that doesn’t mean you want to be in the dark on the particulars. So we created a guide – what we’re calling Warehousing and Logistics 101.

You’ll hear lots of terminology thrown around when it comes to warehousing and logistics. It’s not meant to confuse – just to clarify. That’s how we roll – a place for everything and everything in its place. In that spirit, we’ve collected a glossary of warehousing and 3PL terms. For now, we’ll list them in alphabetical order. If that becomes cumbersome (with additions and audience participation), we’ll organize them into finer categories. So, our first term of the day is:

  • Allocation – Demand or sales order is designated against the inventory of a specific item.
  • Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN) – Detailed shipment information transmitted by the shipper to a customer or consignee in advance of delivery, which designates the contents (individual products and quantities of each) and nature of the shipment. In Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) standards, this is referred to as an 856 transaction. This may also include carrier and shipment specifics, including time of shipment and expected time of arrival. The ASN data can be valuable in providing digital knowledge about what is in the shipment, and can be used to eliminate manual data entry.
  • Batch picking – Order picking method where orders are grouped into small batches and the picker will pick all orders in that batch at once.
  • Case – Unit of measurement where a group of eaches/individual pieces are packaged together.
  • Case Picking – The act of picking a case for an order.
  • Containerization – Using standardized types of containers for the storage and transport of materials within a facility. Containers can range from totes, crates, boxes, etc.
  • Cross Docking – A distribution system in which merchandise received at the warehouse or distribution center is not put away, but instead is readied for shipment to retail stores. Cross docking requires close synchronization of all inbound and outbound shipment movements. By eliminating the put-away, storage and selection operations, it can significantly reduce distribution costs.
  • Cycle Counting – An inventory control and management practice that refers to a process of regularly scheduled inventory counts (usually daily) that “cycles” through your inventory. Users determine how often certain items or locations are counted using frequency or dollar values segregated into “ABC” categories. Cycle counting can eliminate the need for wall to wall physical counts and can maintain a higher level of on-going accuracy.
  • Each – Individual piece (usually the smallest unit of measurement).
  • License Plate – A pallet tag. Refers to a uniquely numbered sticker placed on a pallet of product. Typically contains information about product on the pallet.
  • List Picking – Order picking method where the picker will pick from multiple orders on a list.
  • Pick face – Area of storage accessible to the picker.
  • Radio Frequency Data Collection (RFDC) – Is used to communicate from a mobile location to a host computer in real-time. RF terminals provide a wireless data entry and/or display with an RF base station which is connected to a host computer. RFDC provides an accurate, real-time system by allowing the host computer to interactively verify and update data. In addition, it eliminates paperwork, increases customer service, and reduces space requirements. RFDC can substantially improve an operation’s efficiency.
  • Replenishment – The process of moving or re-supplying inventory from a reserve (or upstream) storage location to a primary (or downstream) storage or picking location, or to another mode of storage in which parking is performed.
  • Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) – An 18-character identification number used to identify containers including pallets and boxes primarily for containers which are a part of a shipment covered by an Automated Shipment Notice.
  • SKU – Stock Keeping Unit, a unique identifier for every sellable unit.
  • Slotting – Optimizing storage location in a warehouse to maximize efficiency (based on item velocity, pick face dimensions, and cubic velocity).
  • Task Interleaving – A method of combining warehouse picking and put away. Warehouse Management Systems use logic to direct (typically with an RF terminal) a lift truck operator to put away a pallet en route to the next pick. The idea is to reduce “deadheading” or driving empty material handling equipment around the warehouse.
  • Transportation Management System – Software package that manages shipment manifesting, rate shopping, fleet management, routing, trailer management, yard management, carrier management, and freight cost management.
  • Voice Directed or Voice Activated – Systems which guide users such as warehouse personnel via voice commands.
  • Wave Picking – Order picking method where all zones are picked at the same time and the items are later sorted and consolidated into individual orders/shipments.
  • Zone picking – Order picking method where pickers are assigned to only pick from a specified “zone” of the warehouse. Picks for an order are passed to the next usually by conveyor. A method of picking orders where a warehouse is divided into several pick zones with order pickers assigned to a specific zone and only picking the items in that zone, orders are moved from one zone to the next (usually on conveyor systems) as they are picked (also known as “pick-and-pass”).

In addition to these terms, you may hear affiliations and accreditations tossed around like “Conexus” or “WERC.” We believe in being active and engaged in the world of warehousing and logistics. If you’d like to see our Affiliations and Accreditations, go here.

Maybe you’ve got a couple terms or insider slang you would add to our list. If so, drop us a line!

Resources: Inverntoryops.com, Evans Distribution System, Ascension.