Have you considered mobile totes and bins lately?

Probably not. But now might be a good time to evaluate what they can do to improve your productivity and efficiency for not a lot of money.Probably not. But now might be a good time to evaluate what they can do to improve your productivity and efficiency for not a lot of money.

Wouldn’t it be nice if every SKU was stored in the right place all the time? For sure. But being in the same right place all the time may only be half the answer when it comes to bins and totes in manufacturing and distribution. Just ask Ed Granger, Quantum’s director of sales.

That’s when he trots out an unexpected word: mobility. Mobile totes, really? You bet. It’s also when he’s likely to send you seven or eight links to everything from mobile slanted shelves with bins to carts with totes as well as mobile louvered panels with bins and totes.

Opens up a whole new world, doesn’t it?

It’s too easy to always think of bins and totes in one, static location. “Mobility is not new, but it’s a hidden gem,” Granger says.

“Mobility is all about getting SKUs to the location or even locations where they’re needed most at any given point in the day. A cart of totes can be in one corner of the production floor in the morning and moved elsewhere for the afternoon based on production or distribution schedules. Doing that saves steps and improves efficiencies,” he explains.

Granger characterizes mobile bins and totes as unlocking potential. He tells stories about companies that tried it and wished they had done it long ago. Others are just rushing through the day to meet schedules and never took the time to look at new ways to improve their operations. Then Granger told them about mobility. Time to exhale.

And with the next breath realize that we aren’t talking a major capital expenditure here. The cost of mobile bins and totes is a far cry from the cost of new conveyor, says Granger. It also helps to know up front what’s in the budget and stay within it. “There’s nothing wrong with starting small with mobile bins and totes and adding as they become an increasingly important component of operations,” he adds.

Furthermore, return on investment at any spending level is typically less than a year. It’s not unusual for mobile bins and containers to increase part picking productivity by double digits, Granger adds.

One of the other advantages of mobile storage is that it allows workflows to be reconfigured easily and frequently. That maximizes flexibility to adapt to changes in customer demand for product, too.

While all of the mobile solutions mentioned so far are on wheels, Granger says another solution is what he calls high-density sliding track systems. “These efficiently move wire shelving systems filled with bins and totes along a fixed track mounted on the floor,” says Granger. The patented design uses bearings in the skate of the wire shelving to move loads up to 1,500 pounds.

So, there you have it: several options for mobile bins and totes. And while it may not rank up there on the technology scale with artificial intelligence, mobility does bring new intelligence to always having SKUs where they are needed most. Or as Granger simply says, “mobilization has helped a lot of folks.”