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A buffer section is used to intercept jams within the material flow, to avoid bottlenecks and idle time within different processes and to collect inventories for forwarding. It can be integrated fully automatically into the flow of goods, but can also be operated manually.
The buffer section in the material flow
For example, if a buffer line is installed in the material flow and at goods receipt, more inventory is added to the material flow than can be retrieved at the end of the line, the inventory is temporarily directed to the buffer. This avoids a bottleneck and thus a blockage of the goods receipt department.
In warehouses with a fixed location principle, there is more often the need for a buffer section than in warehouses with a free-space principle because the inventory does not have to be moved to a specific location when it is put away.
Buffer sections are also used at the outgoing goods department to keep the inventory ready for dispatch until it is transported away.
The buffer line in the picking zone
When picking in large distribution centers, there are often very long buffer sections on which active picking bins are temporarily stored. In the case of multi-level picking, this buffer is also called a batch buffer. So-called batchesare formed in the containers, which can contain parts for one or more orders. Inventories from different areas can thus be collected directly in the trays. Within a picking area only short distances have to be covered. Only when all items for a batch from the different areas have been collected, they are forwarded.
The buffer line at the packing stations:
Buffer sections can also be located at packing stations after the picking zone. This prevents idle time or congestion at the packing stations. If inventory gets there faster than it can be packed, it is temporarily stored in the buffer. If inventory is packed faster than supplies arrive, the buffer is used.
Further information can also be found in the article Buffer Storage.
Teaser image: © Dr. Thomas + Partner