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How to Implement FIFO for Lineside Storage

Since Henry Ford’s Model T came in black, black, or black, manufacturing has come a long way. Today, there are dozens of options for nearly every product imaginable, which is outstanding for consumers but can provide logistical challenges in assembly. Because there are so many different options, stock rotation is paramount in most operations. FIFO is a natural fit for assembly processes requiring natural stock rotation because it is back-loaded and has a natural order. The first product loaded is also the first product picked. If you’ve analyzed your throughput, stocking with FIFO becomes an easy and hassle-free storage method.

Lineside storage has been complicated by the deluge of choices that consumers have today. During the Ford years, keeping pallets of black door panels along the line was easy. There was no variety. However, storage becomes much more difficult when there are 40 different colors available (do you want your door black, midnight, or gunmetal black?). The line must be extended to accommodate this additional space to keep the palletized storage. This means additional physical space to extend the line, more equipment, and more pickers. Replacing those pallets with a lineside flow rack system is much more efficient.
Lineside FlowCell Flow Rack
Throughput analysis is required to implement a FIFO lineside flow rack system. If you have room for an 8 ft. deep aisle but go through 16 ft. worth of product daily, you will have to refill the shelf each day. Our Space Optimization Specialists can assist you with this throughput analysis. Essentially, this system would be a just-in-time storage system where assemblers are each picking the items. Another consideration is the type of product being stored. Do you want layback storage or knuckled storage? It depends on the product being picked.

When going to a FIFO lineside system, it is important to remember the first two philosophies of 5S:
  1. Sort
    Go through the pick area and dispose of any unnecessary items. This will increase efficiency by removing any potential obstacles present during the pick. You want the picking area to be as simple as possible so that the task can be accomplished with minimal distraction or superfluous activity.
  2. Straighten
    Similar to sorting, straightening requires arranging the workspace in a way that makes sense to the assembler. FIFO is part of this straightening process, as the flow rack design puts products in a position to be picked where and when they need to be. The FIFO streamlines the picking process by removing the need to sort through products to find the next pick.

The remaining philosophies of 5S, shine, standardize and sustain, are also incredibly important to remember when designing and maintaining a streamlined picking process. A just-in-time FIFO lineside storage system can make your picking process faster and more efficient. Contact a UNEX Space Optimization Specialist today to discuss the potential to add FIFO to your line-side storage.

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