How to Create a More Efficient Warehouse Picking Operation

June 18, 2018

Order picking is the process of pulling inventory in the warehouse to fill a customer order. Supply Chain Digest deems order picking an important part of order fulfillment that effects other aspects of distribution. "Given the centrality of the order fulfillment function, order picking and replenishment operations often represent more than 50% of total DC labor costs. As a result, if a shipper can speed-up its order picking operations it can increase volume and reduce distribution costs as a percent of sales" (Supply Chain Digest).

 

Here are a few tips to improve your warehouse's order picking operation:

 

Product Locations

For optimal product flow and velocity through the warehouse, shippers can slot product based on variation in customer demand. For example, an "A class" product that is fast moving and stable should be placed near the front of the warehouse for quick and easy access. Whereas, a "D class" product that's slow moving and unstable should be placed in back locations.

 

Picking Methods

There are multiple methods when deciding how the picking process. Each method has its own unique pros and cons that should be identified. Here are some basic methods to consider when choosing your picking strategy:

  • Discrete picking: One picker picks all items for a single order

    • Travel times can be excessive if there is a low number of picks per order.

    • Congestion in aisles can occur if there are a large number of orders being picked.

  • Zone picking: Each picker only picks the items of an order located in an assigned zone

    • This method can reduce travel time.

    • Balancing amount of work in each zone can be difficult.

  • Batch picking: Single picker picks all of the items for multiple orders

    • This method reduces travel and search time.

    • Sortation may occur during or after picking.

  • Zone-batch picking: Multiple pickers each pick portions of multiple orders, combination of zone and batch picking

    • This can require consolidation and sortation.

 

Picking Technologies

One picking technology that proves to be effective for order fulfillment is voice picking. Voice picking equips each operator with a mobile device or voice dedicated terminal and a headset with a microphone. The benefits of voice picking includes:

  • Hands free picking with no scanners

  • Verification of quantities while on the move

  • No lag time between tasks

  • Improved picking speed

  • Improved picking accuracy

  • Easy training for new employees

  • Generally a high level of employee engagement

  • No special keys or entries for learning

 

To learn about more automated picking systems and what Integral can offer, visit our partner company's website, Kuecker Logistics.

 

This article was originally published by the LeanCor blog. The original author is LeanCor Consulting.

 

 

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