How to Best Implement First In First Out (FIFO) in a Warehouse Environment

How to Best Implement First In First Out (FIFO) in a Warehouse Environment

There are many things to consider when implementing a First In First Out (FIFO) approach in your warehouse. In most cases, you should implement this practice should be implemented regardless of whether or not the quality of your product degrades over time. Implementing a FIFO put-away and pick process will help improve your operations overall.

A warehouse management system that simply directs operators to the oldest inventory first does not meet the needs of many warehouse environments. It is critical for overall success to choose a WMS that takes FIFO into consideration during both the put-away and picking processes.

Ways to Age Your Inventory

Expiration Dates

If your products have defined “use by” or expiration dates, you can easily use those dates to age your inventory. Using these dates will help you easily ship older product first and avoid any potential supplier issues.

Sequential Pallet Licensing

Another simple way to implement FIFO in an environment without dated inventory would be to use sequential pallet license plates to age the inventory. As palletized material arrives at the warehouse, the operator can use ascending license plates to identify the pallets. Using this method, older pallets would contain sequentially lower pallet IDs, making FIFO fairly straightforward.

Lot Control

Another way to implement FIFO is lot control to group pallets received on the same day. Pre-printed lot tags with a value of the Julian date can be used to age groups of product by their received date. This method can be further simplified by pre-printing lot labels in barcode format at the beginning of the day to be used throughout the day as product is received. This approach can also be used even if product is not placed on pallets.

Implementing FIFO

Make Older Items Easily Accessible

Any time that pallets are stacked or placed in rack locations that are more than one pallet deep, you must make special considerations during the put-away process. These considerations primarily include storing inventory is directly or, at a minimum, easily accessible.

Stack Pallets Appropriately

If pallet stacking is part of your warehouse operation, it is important to ensure that a newer pallet is not placed on top of an older pallet. If older pallets are stored underneath or behind newer pallets, it will require a great deal of material movement for pickers to access the oldest material first. Stacking pallets appropriately will help to simplify and expedite the fulfillment process.

Label Items Clearly

It is also helpful to clearly label your items so that operators can easily identify the older items when there are multiple product choices in the same bin location.

Next Steps

There are many benefits to implementing FIFO in your warehouse.  By shipping the oldest items first, you prevent degradation of your products and avoid potential obsolescence of your inventory. Your customers will also receive their products in relatively clean boxes, because products will have spent less time in your warehouse. Contact us to learn more about our innovative warehouse management solutions.

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