Inventory Allocation in Robotic Mobile Fulfillment Systems

43 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2017  

Tim Lamballais

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

Debjit Roy

Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad

M. B. M. de Koster

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Technology and Operations Management

Date Written: January 09, 2017

Abstract

A Robotic Mobile Fulfillment System is a recently developed automated, parts-to-picker material handling system. Robots can move storage shelves, also known as inventory pods, between the storage area and the workstations and can continually reposition them during operations. This paper shows how to optimize three key decision variables:

(1) the number of pods per product

(2) the ratio of the number of pick stations to replenishment stations, and

(3) the replenishment level per pod.

Our results show that throughput performance improves substantially when inventory is spread across multiple pods, when an optimum ratio between the number of pick stations to replenishment stations is achieved and when a pod is replenished before it is completely empty. This paper contributes methodologically by introducing a new type of Semi-Open Queueing Networks (SOQN): cross-class matching multi-class SOQN, by deriving necessary stability conditions, and by introducing a novel interpretation of the classes.

Keywords: Robotic Mobile Fulfillment System, RMFS, Semi-Open Queueing Networks, SOQN

Suggested Citation

Lamballais, Tim and Roy, Debjit and de Koster, M. B. M., Inventory Allocation in Robotic Mobile Fulfillment Systems (January 09, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2900940 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2900940

Tim Lamballais

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands

Debjit Roy

Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad ( email )

Vastrapur
Ahmedabad, GA Gujarat 380 015
India

M.B.M. René De Koster (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Technology and Operations Management ( email )

RSM Erasmus University
PO Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
+31 10 408 1719 (Phone)
+31 10 408 9014 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rsm.nl/rdekoster

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