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High Density Storage Scanning

How to Effectively Scan High Density Warehouse Items

Warehouses that employ high-density storage strategies are designed to maximize the use of available space while efficiently storing a large volume of goods or materials. These warehouses are characterized by their utilization of specialized storage systems and technologies that enable them to achieve higher storage capacities compared to traditional warehouses. While many warehouses store pallets on their rack shelves, high density warehouses will store individual boxes, cartons and eaches across their bins.  Each one of these standalone containers is identified and labeled as individual goods requiring warehouses to utilize high-density storage scanning to track and cycle count each item.

Dense inventory storage is time consuming and expensive to track with labor

Today, warehouses store cases of items using many different types of storage strategies. Most common are single SKU pallet storage and case storage location. Cycle counting the case storage locations is particularly labor intensive as it requires each individual case to be scanned. Warehouses that hold high number of SKUs and fewer quantities store in case locations rather than pallet locations. Industries from clothing- apparel, shoes, cosmetics to electronics, furniture may find themselves storing this way, including B2B and eCommerce providers where the item size is bigger than a 8-10 inch.

Warehouses need high density scanning solutions that are versatile enough to capture pallets with a single label all the way to a pallet containing 100 separate labeled cases that all need to be scanned.

Densely packed bins are a big challenge for most cycle count automation

Keeping track of items in high-density storage warehouses presents multiple challenges due to the complex nature of the storage systems and large volume of inventory involved.  With dense storage configurations it is difficult to visually inspect and count each item reliably. This leads to discrepancies in inventory accuracy and challenges in locating specific items when needed, contributing to order fulfillment delays, and increased operational costs. This is why effective high-density storage scanning solutions are critical to these types of operations.

The strategies used to cycle count high-density warehouse shelves will vary from facility to facility. Many warehouses still employ manual counters that visually count standalone items, typically these items lack visible labels and barcodes. For items that do feature visible barcodes, warehouse associates will walk the aisles and lifted by order pickers to scan these individual items. This is a time consuming and error prone approach to high density item scanning.

Challenges of automated high density inventory scanning
RFID inventory scanning is slow and inconsistent while warehouse drones are only intended for individual pallet scans and not high density storage scanning

Several factors are driving the adoption of cycle count automation in warehouses.  High attrition rates and shrinking labor pools are forcing warehouses to supplement labor with cycle count automation, but the results of these technologies are quite varied:

  • RFID – is intended for real-time item location tracking in the warehouse.  However, RFID technology is unable to filter out reads coming from a neighboring bin. Along with that, the interference of metals and liquid limit read range and the high cost of implementation limits the success of this sort of high-density inventory tracking.  Finally, the economics of RFID may not make it practical for many applications.
  • Warehouse Drones – Warehouses that have deployed drones for cycle counting have discovered they are best used for standalone pallet scanning and are not intended to scan and report on high-density items.  Small fields of view and limited battery lives are just 2 shortcomings for using this automation for high-density inventory scanning.  High density warehouses typically feature narrow aisles and do not provide the appropriate clearance for drones to successfully navigate the areas. Watch this Introduction to Warehouse Drones (and how they work) video for more information on the technology.
  • Vimaan StorTRACK – this mobile sled is maneuvered by existing MHE and can scan high density inventory quickly and reliably.  Inventory stored singled deep with labels facing out are quickly and easily scanned with this computer vision system. Designed in the shape of a pallet, StorTRACK is easily transported through narrow high-density aisles.  If an MHE can drive down the aisle, then StorTRACK can easily be carried through. Watch StorTRACK operational demonstration.

How to Effectively Scan High Density Warehouse Items

StorTRACKs field of view and fast scanning capabilities engineered to provide highly precise high density inventory warehouse scans

Warehouses utilizing the Vimaan StorTRACK are discovering that many of the issues associated with cycle counting high density items are challenges of the past.  Several features of this computer vision system are purpose-built to support inventory scanning of all types.

  • Wide Field of View – StorTRACK is equipped with four embedded cameras delivering a four-foot field of view enabling the system to capture all items on a pallet in just one pass even for high density shelves.
  • Multi-modal Scans – in addition to scanning 1D and 2D barcodes, this system can also read alphanumeric text and recognize graphics found on items and labels.
  • AI/Machine Learning – proprietary algorithms are designed to continually improve on high density inventory scans with each cycle counting mission.

Designed in the shape of a pallet, any existing forklift or order picker can pick up and maneuver the StorTrack cycle counting system. The wide field of view and embedded LED lighting ensures that densely packed items are captured as fast as the MHE can lift and lower its forks – StorTRACK can scan 100+ densely packed items as fast as it can scan a single pallet.  Equipped with an 8-hour battery pack, StorTRACK can scan individual pallets and high-density items for an entire warehouse shift without a single re-charge.

High density storage scanning is no longer an unsurmountable challenge.  Computer vison and machine learning technologies have advanced to the point where these goods are reliably captured and reported on as reliably as any other inventory scanning solution.  No matter the number of items stored in high density shelves StorTRACK scans and reports on this inventory, even for very narrow aisle (VNA) cycle counting. Designed for speed and reliability, this inventory scanning system can capture a 300’ long x 30’ high warehouse shelf in 35 minutes, regardless of whether the bins contain individual pallets or include densely stored inventory.

Dense Inventory Scanning Case Study

Tracking 10,000’s of rugs was a major challenge for Jaipur Living, a leading luxury rug manufacturer based out of Acworth, Georgia. Densley stored rugs with mixed symmetry and various qualities of labels made cycle counting a time consuming and labor intenstive task. Learn how the manufacturer was able to achieve a 40X improvement in cycle count efficiencies, while doubling their inventory accuracy. Read the Jaipur Living Case Study

Densley packed bins require StorTrack cycle counting

wAReHOUSE Cycle count automation guide

Learn how other warehouses have improved their inventory accuracies to over 99%, while reducing cycle count headcount.


High Density Inventory Scanning Resources

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