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Improving Cotton Warehousing Efficiencies through Novel Bale Marketing Strategies: Aisle-Stacking and Block-Stacking
Lauren Hazelrigs, William B. Faulkner, Ronald E. Lacey, John Robinson, and Calvin B. Parnell, Jr.
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The National Cotton Council’s Vision 21 Cotton Flow Study sought to improve the flow of cotton from the gin to the warehouse. The primary objective of the study was to identify cotton flow strategies, systems, and practices that the United States (U.S.) cotton industry can employ to lower costs or improve returns while meeting the demands of exporting cotton and simultaneously servicing the domestic market. The goal of this study was to evaluate two different warehouse methods using three different marketing techniques at different sized facilities and levels of inventory. Typical aisle and block-stacking cotton warehouses were modeled with discrete event simulations. Time and motion data were collected from multiple warehouses as the basis for the simulation models. The principal output was the total time required to assemble an 88-bale order. Implementation of a four-bale marketing plan or use of Cotton Incorporated’s MILLNet™ for Merchants software was evaluated against baseline marketing. In larger aisle-stacking warehouses, the use of MILLNet™ for Merchants software decreased the time required to assemble an 88-bale load of cotton for shipping; whereas, four-bale marketing did not reduce assembly times. In block-stacking warehouses, four-bale marketing and MILLNet™ for Merchants generated time savings for order assembly. Block-stacking in a cotton warehouse was the most efficient way to assemble and load one 88-bale order. The four-bale marketing method generated the shortest order assembly time in small warehouses; however, MILLNet™ for Merchant software provided shorter assembly times for medium to large warehouses. International shipments were the fastest to assemble and load regardless of the bale selection method.