In many storage systems, there is a natural tradeoff between storage density (number of items per square or cubic foot) and the throughput capacity or expected time to retrieve an item. The more dense the storage, the longer it takes to get something out. We are exploring some new concepts in high-density storage, based on a novel “puzzle architecture.”
In the traditional, ubiquitous warehouse design, storage racks are arranged to create parallel picking aisles, perhaps with one or more cross aisles to facilitate travel between them. We consider the problem of how to arrange picking and cross aisles in new ways to reduce the distance workers travel to retrieve items.
Order fulfillment is the heart of retail distribution, both for “brick and mortar” and internet retailers. In a consumer culture that demands immediate gratification, how ought distribution systems be designed to maximize performance? We are addressing a number of problems in this area.
Crossdocking is a logistics technique used in the retail, distribution, and trucking industries to rapidly consolidate shipments and so avoid excessive inventory or transportation costs. We have considered several problems in this area, including the best shape for a crossdocking facility, how to arrange trucks around the perimeter, and how to stage pallets inside.
Designing a distribution center is a complex activity involving multiple disciplines, from architecture to material handling to management. The traditional design objective has been to meet operating requirements (throughput, service level) at minimum cost. How does the worker fare in all this?