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How to Plan a Trip - Dock to Stock

Directed Putaway is one of many terms used to describe an efficient, system generated methodology for putting product away in distribution centers. Also known as “Dock to Stock”, this movement can be manual, or system driven. System usage will optimize product flow, item categorization and drive efficiencies within the facility. We wish to take this opportunity to explain the similarities of the concept with vacation planning and execution.

Whenever you plan a trip or vacation, there are steps that you must take to make sure that all goes well, and everyone has a good time. Let us look at the things you must do to plan your vacation itinerary.

Vacation Planning


You must decide who, and how many people are attending. This can be you and your immediate family, your extended family, or a group of friends.


Then, you and those going with you must decide where you are going. Once you have decided on a destination, you must determine where you will stay, based on what accommodations are available in the city they plan to visit.


Next, you must determine how to get there. This is usually decided by where you are going and how best to travel to that place. You know where your starting point will be, usually your home. Then you determine the route to the destination, whether it is via car, rail, ship or plane, or a combination of these. We generally try to find the shortest way to get there, so that more time is available for fun once you arrive.

This may be an overly simplified description of something you already know, but let’s look at the similarities between planning a trip and the way that many systems work in directed putaway.

Systematic Directed Putaway


When planning your trip you first determine how many people are traveling.

The first step in distribution is to create the inventory, usually by receiving options, informing the system what item you are receiving, and how much of it. This is the “Who”, (or “What”, if you will). The case that is received is like the party of people traveling.


The next step is determining where the product will go. If you were planning a trip to Disney World, and all hotels were full around the theme park, you would then extend your search to surrounding areas in Orlando; searching for accommodations to fulfill your needs. You must find a place that will provide enough beds for everyone.

Systems can do this as well, using a priority table, or similar logic. If the system does not find an open location within the first priority, it will search through each zone until it either finds a spot or fails to find a location within the entire priorities for that type. The open locations within a priority are searched by size and capacity to ensure that the case will fit. The location selected is like the hotel or resort reserved.


Once systems find an available location to put the case into, they must determine how to get there. Many systems will determine “How does this case get HERE (the location found for putaway) from THERE (the starting point)”. While this sounds backwards, it achieves the same result, but in a more efficient manner, since building the path backward will find a route that will end at the destination, never looking at the routes that come close, but don’t quite connect one point to another.

Locations in systems have a “Work Group,” “Work Area” or similar terminology that identify both physical placement and are used in pathing table to determine travel. These are like states and cities. A location in the system is like a street address. The Work Area of a location is like the City for that address, and the Work Group is like the state. The path definition table is a “map” for System, telling how to get from each city and state (Work Area/Work Group) to another and if there is a “next drop” point along the way.

Next drops are locations that product must be staged to along the way to their final putaway. This is similar to airports and other waypoints along the path to your final destination. If the person receiving uses a pallet jack to take product away from the dock, and the putaway location is above the floor level, the case must be staged into a next drop location so that a lift truck or forklift can come and take it to the location.

Now you can see the basics that System uses to control inventory movement and the similarities to vacation planning.

Next time we will expand on the basics and cover more of the details used in specific warehousing solutions – WMoS and WMiSeries products from Manhattan Associates.

Wilson Norman

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