Warehouse companies who distribute product from freezers combat conditions unlike those in any other department.
- Initially, warehouse freezer space is more expensive to build; and then it’s more expensive to service than any other grocery department.
- Over the past 20 years, SKU growth as a percentage of total SKU is higher in the freezer than in any other department. Many, if not most of the SKU represent slow, and at best, medium sales volumes. Each requires a pick slot, each requires reserve storage, each increases the travel distance required to put-away product, each increases the travel distance required to pick an order.
- Workers are subject to frigid conditions, ranging from -8 to as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Special compensation and additional “warm up” breaks all add to the labor cost for freezer operations.
- Product picked and shipped in error is expensive to return and recycle to another customer. More typically, discounts are given to encourage the retailer to keep the product.
For those companies who break cases in the freezer in order to ship single picked items, the order fulfillment process is compounded that much more.
When faced with an abundance of SKU, each requiring a pick slot, the single most significant challenge for freezer distributors is the height of the worker – they can only reach as high as the length of their arms. Once the height factor is used up, to accommodate the challenges, the traditional solution is to make pick slots smaller, either vertically or horizontally. Problems escalate once this decision is made. For example, received product is re-palletized to fit a smaller pick slot; and workers are forced to climb below beams to reach product.
IcePick®, Velociti Alliance’s solution for freezer operations, typically doubles the product stored in freezers, reduces labor by 30% to 50%, eliminates errors and the cost associated with errors, and increases the number of pick slots by 40% or more.
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