Routing methods for warehouses with multiple cross aisles
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This paper considers routing and layout issues for parallel aisle warehouses. In such warehouses order pickers walk or drive along the aisles to pick products from storage. They can change aisles at a number of cross aisles. These cross aisles are usually located at the front and the back of the warehouse, but there can also be one or more cross aisles at positions in between. We describe a number of heuristics to determine order picking routes in a warehouse with two or more cross aisles. To analyse the performance of the heuristics, a branch-and-bound algorithm that generates shortest order picking routes is used. Performance comparisons between heuristics and the branch-and-bound algorithm are given for various warehouse layouts and order sizes. For the majority of the instances with more than two cross aisles, a newly developed heuristic appears to perform better than the existing heuristics. Furthermore, some consequences for layout are discussed. From the results it appears that the addition of cross aisles to the warehouse layout can decrease the handling time of the orders by lowering average travel times. However, adding a large number of cross aisles may increase average travel times because the space occupied by the cross aisles has to be traversed as well.