Glossary of Industry Terms

Warehouse Terms

  • Continuous Flow Processing — A constant flow of work (orders) is continually incorporated into the work stream; the new work is seamlessly introduced, allowing new items to be retrieved during the retrieval of existing items. This type of processing relies on pull-based/lean manufacturing principles to maximize efficiencies, sequence and synchronize work and work resources.
  • SKU — Stock Keeping Unit; a unique identifier denoting a specific type of merchandise; any item identified by a specific SKU is identical to another item with the same SKU.
  • Storage Location — A unique physical location for storing products or merchandise. The physical location is identified with a unique name.
  • Wave Processing (from a lean perspective) — Processing where a collection of unrelated work efforts is combined into batches. With wave picking, each batch must be completed before new orders are introduced.
  • Waveless Processing — Waveless systems release new orders into a revolving batch of work based on priority and optimization. As work is completed, new work is introduced. A waveless system does not hold work in a buffer before releasing it to the next process downstage. Efforts for each order start and finish independently from the efforts on ALL other orders.
  • Wave-less Processing (or Order Streaming) — A blend of wave and waveless processing to provide more dynamic order fulfillment and to prioritize the most important orders at a given time. Order streaming delays final task construction and assignment, including travel/pick paths, until the work is ready to be assigned to a work queue.

Equipment Terms

  • Automatic Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) — Devices used to store and retrieve product without human labor.
  • Cube and Weigh — Automatic equipment that reads package identifiers and measures their size and/or weight, reporting the information to other computing systems.
  • Fork Truck Vehicle — A vehicle on which a payload is carried on forks that may be elevated and lowered to place or remove material from a storage location.
  • Goods-To-Man Stations (G2M) — Work stations where material required for operation is delivered to a worker for processing. While these stations are often used in conjunction with an AS/RS, a sorter induction station and an order matching station are technically G2M stations.
  • Mini-Load Stacker — An AS/RS with a track running down an aisle between multiple-level storage locations. Cranes run along the tracks and carry containers that are automatically place into or retrieve from storage locations. The material to be sorted or retrieved is delivered to specified pick-up & delivery locations.
  •  Multi-Shuttle — A storage system that uses multiple captive shuttles operating on various levels of storage locations. The shuttles transfer material between pickup and delivery locations and storage locations. Some multi-shuttle systems operate on a single level and some use elevators to move material between levels. Other multi-shuttle systems have shuttles travelling vertically as well as horizontally and do not require elevators.
  • Narrow Aisle/Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) — A storage area with narrow aisles for accessing product. This type of aisle requires specialized equipment.
  • Near Demand Buffer — A conveyor loop in which material that has no current demand but has a known very near-term demand may be held temporarily. Near-demand buffers have high transaction rates but low storage capacity.
  • Pick Module — A storage system that uses people to store and retrieve product. Pick modules may be multi-level.
  • Pickup and Delivery/Drop-off Stations (P and D Stations) — Transfer locations used temporarily for moving material between process or storage.
  • Print and Apply (PANDA, P&A) — Automated printing equipment that reads incoming package-identifying information and automatically produces a label and affixes it to the package.
  • Sorter — A container sorter or a sorter for sorting packages, cartons, bags, cases, etc.
  • Stock Picking Vehicle — A specialized type of fork truck where the operator is enclosed in a cage that is elevated with the forks.
  • Turret Truck Vehicle — A specialized type of fork truck where the forks (and payload) may be rotated to allow the vehicle to operate in a narrow storage aisle.
  • Unit Load Stacker — A pallet-storing AS/RS with a track running down an aisle between multiple high storage locations. A crane runs along the track and can place a pallet into or retrieve it from storage locations. The material to be sorted or retrieved is delivered to specified pickup and delivery locations.
  • Unit Sorter — A loose-item sorter or a sorter for sorting individual items. Sorters for performing these operations include cross-belt sorters, tilt-tray sorters and bombay sorters.

Software Terms

  • Advance Ship Notice (ASN) — Information provided by a shipper/provider indicating the future arrival of inventory.
  • Host or Host Computer — A computing device that provides and/or requires data from a lower hierarchal level element. Hierarchy refers to authority or influence.
  • Inventory Management Systems — Systems that identify and track inventory from receipt to disposition.
  • Machine Control — Low-level computer software and controls hardware for directly controlling mechanical devices. Machine control software normally controls the start and stop of the machine, monitors sensory inputs to provide instantaneous control direction and uses safety functions during operation.
  • Merchandise Control — Systems that allow definition and procurement of inventory.
  • Order Management System (OMS) — A computer software system used for order entry and processing.
  • Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) — A computing device specifically designed to interface with various sensors’ control elements to facilitate equipment control. A PLC often has a specialized computing language for programming.
  • Warehouse Execution System (WES) — A software system working in real time to organize, sequence and synchronize all warehouse resources, including material handling equipment, devices and employees directing and controlling the operation.
  • Warehouse Control System (WCS) — A software system integrating the control of multiple machine control systems in real time. Normally provides visualization tools to identify and correct equipment faults.
  • Warehouse Management System (WMS) — Computer software providing tools for controlling the operation of a warehouse. WMS software is designed to support and optimize warehouse or distribution center management. WMS software furnishes management with tools for daily planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling the utilization of available resources. It also helps with storage within and movement in and out of a warehouse, and is used to support staff performing these functions.