On the face of it, stock rotation sounds like a run-of-the-mill process. After all, ultimately it is a case of ordering and moving around products sitting on shelves and racks in the warehouse.
However, get it wrong and this process can quickly turn chaotic and expensive, causing dispatching errors, lost inventory and customer complaints about out-of-date goods.
Get it right and your operations will run efficiently and cost-effectively; those same customers have goods arriving on time, within the expiration date and usable.
Stock rotation is at its most intense in businesses where products have short shelf lives and critical expiration dates, such as in the food, drinks and pharmaceuticals industries.
Stock Rotation Systems
Several stock rotation systems have been developed to meet the demands of receiving, storing and dispatching time-sensitive products.
First In First Out (FIFO)
FIFO stock rotation is where the oldest stock is retrieved for dispatch before the newest items. Loading items onto shelving is carried out from one side and retrieval from the other side. This system is used in the food industry in particular where items have a clear expiration date.
Last In First Out (LIFO)
LIFO stock rotation is where the most recently stored items are picked first. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it is suitable for products without an expiration date and so maximises the available storage and operating capacity.
First Expired First Out (FEFO)
FEFO stock rotation – also referred to as First Expiring First Out, is a stock rotation system that works at a micro level and is based entirely on the expiration dates of the products that are being handled in the warehouse. Those with the soonest expiration dates after being received into the warehouse are placed so that they can be the first to be retrieved and dispatched.
Choosing a Stock Rotation System
Having a stock rotation system that is appropriate to the type of goods you handle is a given.
In general, FIFO and FEFO suit the handling of products with a shelf life that need to move quickly through the warehousing process.
LIFO is best for less time-sensitive and heavier goods that are uniform in size and shape and that are handled in volume.
Having the warehouse set up with the appropriate racking and shelving is also essential.
For example, the FIFO system is ideally matched with the drive-in pallet racking and pallet live racking systems as they enable stock to be moved through racking from one end and then out at the other.
On the other hand, push back pallet racking is ideal for LIFO stock rotations. These pallet systems use a gravity-fed pallet assembly for loading and unloading.
This allows use of the full extent of the depth of the racking, thereby maximising the available space and minimising loading and unloading times.
A stock rotation system operated by trained staff keeps your business working smoothly and efficiently. Costs can be managed, and inventory wastage and damage controlled.
Ideally, your system should also be able to provide you with valuable datasets on volumes, locations, time management and other information that could support your audit functions and help fine tune customer service.
Do not hesitate to contact us if you need advice on setting up your stock rotation process and ensuring you have the best warehousing system in pace to do the job. We would be happy to hear from you.