Choosing the Right Technology for Your Order Picking Method

warehouse manager and picking discussing the best order picking method and technology

There are many order picking methods that are designed to move products from the warehouse shelves to the packing or assembly area in the most efficient manner.  Most methods are dependent on warehouse pickers to pick products using a cart.

Choose the Right Picking Process

Order picking is not as simple as just handing over an pick list and sending the picker out into the vast wilderness. While one-picker-one-order picking is simple and straightforward, it can also be an inefficient use of picking time.  These popular order picking methods are more efficient:

  • Batch Picking: Pickers will pick a batch of orders containing the same SKU. The picker needs only to travel once to a given SKU location in order to get the product into multiple orders.
  • Zone Picking: A picker or pikers are assigned to a specific zone and will pick all the SKUs within that particular zone, within a particular time frame, handing them off to someone else to transport to assembly and packing.
  • Wave Picking: One picker is given a number of orders to fill and does so line by line, then brings back the filled orders to be packed. If filling multiple orders, this is more accurately called cluster picking.

There are also combinations of these picking systems, such as zone/batch, zone/wave, and zone/wave/batch picking that are meant to further refine the time spent moving the order from the theoretical to the actual exit. In all cases, the use of pick-to-light is dependent on how many units are deployed. For instance, the devices can be deployed as follows:

  • At SKU location, such as on a bin sited in a particular flow rack. The device will flash, or even play a picker’s particular ringtone to denote which bin on what shelf contains the SKU for the order.
  • On the picking cart, giving the picker directions on how to find a particular SKU.
  • On an order bin when picking multiple orders. This makes sure that each item is properly put into the correct order.

Picking Accuracy

One of the most underestimated costs when operating any kind of warehouse is the cost of mispicked items and the subsequent costs of return. Often unaccounted for are the other costs of servicing the mistakes.

For instance, the costs involved in bumping down other orders in order to rapidly pick and ship the order correctly, then the costs of taking in and restocking the returned merchandise – this is if it’s still in salable condition after two trips through your shipper.

Also count the cost of payroll time when it comes to servicing inventory that’s been returned, restocked, recounted, and so on – the bill is much higher than most people think.

Learn from the Source

Voodoo Robotics pick-to-light is an innovative and easy way to deploy a light-directed picking system without a huge capital outlay.

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If the system avoids just a few mispicks, it’s paid for itself!

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