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Master of Agribusiness

Research on Order Fulfillment Processing of a Multi-Zone Warehouse

Kurt Anderson, Sioux Center, Iowa, defended his thesis, “Research on Order Fulfillment Processing of a Multi-Zone Warehouse,” on April 16, 2014.  Anderson is a spring graduate from Kansas State University with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB) degree. 

When filling orders at warehouses, workers in multi-zone warehouses must often pick, package and ship items from different zones of the warehouse. The company’s business system needs to coordinate with the order fulfillment process to ensure efficient and timely order shipments. Inefficiencies in a multi-zone warehouse can create bottlenecks in the order fulfillment process.

“The company I reviewed for my thesis has a National Accounts department and an Early Order Program (EOP) through the marketing department. The EOP creates large orders within in the business system. Sometimes these orders are picked, but held for back-orders. Holding orders creates inefficiencies in the multi-zone warehouse,” Anderson said.

He reviewed the company’s order fulfillment system, multi-zone warehouse picking process, conveyor zone, final packing and shipping methods to identify areas where bottlenecks may occur. Identifying the issues allowed Anderson to make recommendations for improvement. Recommendations for a new order fulfillment process, and process maps showing the current flow of products were formulated from the results.

Dr. Keith Harris, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Economics and Anderson’s thesis advisor, said, “What started as exploratory research, ended with making a significant contribution to process improvement.”

The full thesis publication can be found online on Kansas State University’s Research Exchange at http://hdl.handle.net/2097/17405.