What is a buffer store?

Understanding, planning and using buffer stocks correctly. When processes in a company get bogged down and lead to disruptions, this can have very different causes. The supply of components for production can be delayed and disrupt or block available transport routes. Market demand is subject to fluctuations in demand. Technical problems in the company's own operations can also lead to disruptions in production processes and the associated replenishment. A buffer stock can absorb the aforementioned imponderables.

What is a buffer store?

A buffer store connects two successive process stages to ensure a smooth flow without disruptions in production, picking or delivery.

Advantages and disadvantages

A buffer store offers the following advantages:

  • Increasing productivity by using the required area and thus ensuring the supply of the various processes.
  • Availability of goods in buffer stock prevents delays in material flow and interruptions in production processes.
  • The connection with other work areas, such as order picking, set formation, replenishment control, but also storage of goods, accelerate the processes.
  • Likewise, the optimal use of storage space leads to synergy effects.
  • Products in the buffer can be subjected to subsequent testing without affecting the process itself. 

Disadvantages arise due to:

  • Cost of the storage system, equipment and storage (space needed, shelves, etc.).
  • Organizational and administrative effort of the processes in the buffer store.

Buffer store concept

In a buffer store (also referred to as short-term storage, compensating storage or interim storage), materials are temporarily stored that are needed again in the production process after a short period of time.

By definition, buffer stock must ensure a speedy and trouble-free production process. Often, intermediate storage facilities are required in logistics at goods receipt and goods issue or also between two successive production stages. In buffer stocks, there is usually no fixed storage location for the stored goods. The structure of the buffer store and its size depend on the operational requirements in the process stages, the resulting storage costs and the risk of possible disruptive factors.

When planning a buffer storage or short-term storage in intralogistics, the available buffer areas, the production program, the storage system and also the work processes that are carried out must be taken into account. In order to be able to store the required materials, in addition to sufficient storage space, a continuous and punctual supply of the production process as well as the capacity for incoming goods must be ensured.

In addition, a buffer store must be set up where the goods are needed. It should be placed as close as possible to the points of consumption. Buffer storage can be designed as block storage (without racks) or with racks, e.g. as single rack or as pallet flow rack system (PDS) with shuttle support or also as carousel. 


Depending on the process step, short-term storage facilities form a reserve between two work stages and can absorb fluctuations in the process and thus prevent a production stoppage. There is a direct relationship between the safety and economic efficiency of a buffer store.

While a small warehouse with few storage locations in the plant can be operated more economically because it incurs lower costs, too small a buffer can then lead to a plant shutdown in the system. With a large warehouse, safety increases, but the costs for setup and operation also increase.

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