How to Implement FIFO for Lineside Storage

Manufacturing has come a very long way since Henry Ford’s Model T came in black, black or black. Today, there are dozens of different 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 that require natural stock rotation because it is back loaded and there is 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 is something that has been complicated by the deluge of choices that consumers have today. Back during the Ford years, it was easy to keep pallets of black door panels along the line. There was no variety. However, when there are 40 different colors available (do you want your door black, midnight or gunmetal black?), storage becomes much more difficult. To keep the palletized storage, the line must be extended to accommodate this additional space. This means additional physical space to extend the line, more equipment and more pickers. Replacing those pallets with a lineside flow rack system is so much more efficient.
Lineside rack
To implement a FIFO lineside flow rack system, a throughput analysis is required. If you have room for an 8 ft. deep aisle but you go through 16 ft. worth of product every day, you will have to refill the shelf each day. A UNEX Pickologist can assist you on 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. Last week’s blog details the storage options available to make picking faster and more efficient. Do you want layback storage or knuckled storage? It really 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 that could present themselves 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 sort, straightening requires arranging the workspace in a way that makes sense to the assembler. FIFO is part of this straightening process, as the design of the flow rack puts products in a position to be picked where and when they need to be. The FIFO streamlines the pick process by removing the need to sort through product 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 Pickologist today to discuss the potential to add FIFO to your line-side storage.