When it comes to warehouse order picking methods, the choices you make have a big impact on your supply chain. Choosing the right order picking strategies will go a long way for your business, leading to improvements such as reduced labor costs, improved customer service, and the best use of warehouse space. If you want to know how to improve picking productivity, here are some warehouse picking best practices you should know about.
The Importance of Order Picking Productivity in Warehouse Management
The order picking process involves pulling items from inventory to fill a customer’s order. This is often seen as the most labor-intensive task within a warehouse, forming as much as 55 percent of operation costs within a distribution center. Order picking has a direct impact on customer satisfaction levels, so making it quick and accurate is vital. Since order picking often requires heavy physical labor, the process can be slow, affected by human error, and unproductive. This is a big problem within the supply chain, as getting customers their orders on time is crucial to the success of any brand or business. Here are some ways you can improve the order picking process to make it more productive and accurate.
Ways to Improve Order Picking Accuracy and Productivity
Maintain Product Slotting
Product slotting can degrade over time if it is left untouched. SKUs change or are added and deleted, and warehouse workers change the way they operate. Much of the time, workers may put items in the most convenient area to save time during a rush, without considering the long-term consequences of that unorganized action. Studies show that the average warehouse has about 50 percent of its SKUs in the wrong spots. Bad slotting can account for a penalty of up to 20 percent on order picking productivity. Ensuring workers are doing things the right way each time, instead of taking shortcuts, will go a long way to ensuring a more accurate order picking process.
Batch and Cluster Order Picking
This function allows workers to scan a batch of cartons once while walking to each distinct location. When a worker picks from one location, they can scan the entire quantity needed for all the cartons at one time, instead of scanning each individual pick. By allowing for batch and cluster order picking, managers can make their workers’ time more efficient and productive.
Touch Order Items Once
If workers are more focused on preventing errors during the picking process, rather than dealing with the consequences afterward, you won’t need to repack, or reship, or recheck. Inventory that has been picked should go to the trucks and should only be touched by pickers. It is also a good idea to pick into shipping cartons, rather than a tote.
Use Different Storage Strategies
Using different storage strategies can make your warehouse operations more efficient. Slotting may improve storage intensity, reduce accidents and product damage, reduce congestion, and improve the time it takes to retrieve items. That is just one example of a strategy change that has benefited many businesses. Since the year is still new, take this time to review your storage strategies, and plan to review them again in a few months. This way you can align your practices with seasonal demand.
Use Pick-to-Light and Put-to-Light Indicators
These tools can be used in the order picking process to reduce errors and improve cost effectiveness. You can also integrate goods-to-person technologies. Items are sent to the operator at an ergonomic height, and the indicator lights tell the operator how many items to pick and where they should be put.
Product Kitting and Assembly
Another option to improve the order picking process is to implement kitting. By shipping in kits, workers can design the most cost-effective kits to offer customers. This can be done virtually or physically in the warehouse. Virtually, a listed bundle of disparate parts is presented and physically, products are bound together and stored in a single location. Product kitting allows you to sell kitted items and individual items at the same time.
Choose Different Order Picking Types
Here are some different order picking types to choose from:
Each order picker is assigned a specific zone and will only realize order picking within this zone.
An order picker is assigned and picks multiple orders simultaneously, minimizing the number of trips to each location.
A variation of zone and batch picking where, instead of moving orders from one zone to another to pack, all zones are picked simultaneously. Then, items are sorted and placed into individual orders and shipments.
Improve Your Order Picking Efficiency with Our Pick and Pack Fulfillment Services
Improving order picking productivity in warehouse management takes time, so managing it on your own may be a challenge if you are a small to medium-sized business. There are more important aspects you should be focusing on, such as your marketing and sales initiatives. Therefore, working with a third-party logistics partner (3PL) can help you. There are many advantages to working with a reputable provider, especially if you want to get your products out to your customers faster, in better condition, and handle returns and issues more efficiently. It is very important for you to meet your customers’ needs, and unless your order picking is highly efficient, you may be unable to meet your goals.
At APS Fulfillment, Inc., we provide value to our clients by offering the most dependable, effective order fulfillment services possible, every day. We are an experienced e-commerce order fulfillment company that can provide advice on e-commerce shipping processes, and we offer our clients a variety of hands-on services. Our services include product fulfillment, direct mail marketing, fulfillment solutions, and fulfillment markets. We also use the best-quality software systems to manage your warehouse, so if you’re looking for the right company, look no further than APS Fulfillment, Inc. You can contact us by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (954) 582-7450.