There are several types of warehouses, e.g. a distribution center (DC).
A warehouse, may be seen as a factory since the collecting of goods ordered by the customers (i.e., the orderpicking process) is simply an assembly process (assembly of a customer order). Orderpicking can be performed in two ways: "man to goods" or "goods to man". The first way is the conventional way; the orderpicker "travels" through the warehouse along the picking locations in the storage racks in order to collect the requested goods.
Important issues are:
- layout of the storage areas
- routing strategies
- slotting strategies (i.e., allocating goods to locations)
- batching of orders (combining orders)
To realize a "goods to man" situation an automated system is needed in which devices (e.g. a gripper that can move vertically along a mast that can simultaneously move in the horizontal direction, vehicles with grippers, conveyors and elevators) bring containers with goods from their storage locations to a work station where the orderpicker collects the requested goods from the containers. After that the devices bring the containers back to their storage locations. One example of such a system is the Logistacker that was invented by PM together with an external company.