Optimize warehouses with triangulation

Published on 27 November 2018

Senior Principal Consultant
Supply Chain

To meet the expectations of increasingly demanding customers today, logisticians need to solve an equation with multiple parameters. With references increasing exponentially, they must be able to closely manage stocks and prepare orders according to different methods, while also limiting operational costs. To manage this, many of them are turning to triangulation, which begs two questions: What exactly is triangulation and what are its applications ? In this article, we dive in head-first.

Warehouse triangulation: what is it?

Based on discoveries by Thales and the Pythagorean theorem, triangulation is a mathematical method used to calculate distances. The principle involves deriving distances by measuring the angles of triangles for which some dimensions are known. 

In a warehouse, triangulation is used to optimize empty distances by offering forklift operators the assignments closest to them, with the same priority. This process can be applied to stocking and destocking, picking, transfer and preparation of orders per box.


Main applications of triangulation

Dynamically adapt priorities

Triangulation lets priorities be adapted in real-time according to distance. A non-urgent assignment can be given a higher priority if the distance required is not as far. 

As regards destocking, assignments logically become increasingly urgent for each additional hour of loading. Triangulation is used in this case to dynamically adapt the priorities set for each assignment. 

Take the example of two pallets to ship in 15 and 20 minutes, respectively. If the pallet that needs to depart in 20 minutes corresponds with the closest assignments geographically, it can be given priority.

MANQUE LE LIEN >> Further reading: How to boost warehouse mobility?


Smooth loads and better handle emergencies

With triangulation, it is possible to define parameters that can re-weight emergencies, in order to smooth out priorities. That way, assignment optimization can be taken into account in parallel to the urgency of some tasks. 

In the case of an urgent pallet located too far to exceptionally move a forklift, wait a few minutes in hopes that another will enter the area to can manage the task. The idea is to start a timer during which a forklift will have an opportunity near the area.  

If no forklift could handle the assignment in the time set out, the movement will be done exceptionally. In some cases, it is possible to optimize the distances traveled without negatively affecting productivity.

MANQUE LE LIEN >> On the same topic: Improve the management of warehouse rounds


Handle last-minute emergencies

Using triangulation, it is possible to find out the destination of a forklift as soon as an assignment is suggested for it. With this feature, the next most relevant mission according to position can be assigned to it without waiting for it to become available. 

In the event of urgent supply, it is also possible to override priority relating to distance in order to perform strategic picking. Settings allow priority levels to be set when multiple emergencies are present.


Fill a tracking log

A travel log containing trips and time spent per type of task is created from triangulation data to fill a tracking log. This information is a goldmine for the company, which can implement it into an artificial intelligence and machine learning MANQUE LE LIEN >> machine learning system for continued process optimization.


Integration within the WMS Generix Group 

Recently revised to respond to problems specific to team managers, the Generix Group Warehouse Management System (WMS) uses triangulation to optimize resource management operations and break through deadlock in real-time when disturbances arise. 

In practice, a priority coefficient is attributed to each assignment saved in the WMS in order to list them by level of urgency for organizational purposes. They are then assigned to forklifts and order preparers according to availability and location in the warehouse. 

When priorities are modified, mission order is automatically recalculated to allow for priority handling of the most urgent operations. Priority changes suggested by triangulation can be managed smoothly by team managers.