Improve Warehouse Picking Efficiency

Order picking is the process of retrieving goods from warehouse storage locations to fill customer orders. It can be one of the most manual, labour-intensive and expensive operations in a warehouse. The following tips could help improve your company’s picking process.

  1. Use a Warehouse Management System

With paper-based picking, it is common to see errors due to omitted items, miscounting quantities or picking the wrong items. However, any sound Warehouse Management System (WMS) can offer solutions that reduce or remove these types of errors. Most WMSs go further by offering a variety of picking options that can considerably improve productivity. Many of these options are flexible and may work straight out of the box, but if you customise the configurations, these picking solutions will give even better results. You can rely on system verifications when your standard operating procedures double-verify practically every step in the picking process.

  1. Automate your warehouse

Pickers can spend around 60 percent of their time moving or walking products around. Consider automating your warehouse by using conveyors. Sitecraft supplies a wide range of conveyor systems, including expanding skate conveyor, expanding roller conveyor and powered conveyors.

  1. Choose the best picking method

Consider the different order picking methods and choose the one that is best suited for your business.

Batch picking – assign order pickers to pick multiple orders simultaneously to minimise repeat trips to product locations. An order management system arranges groups of orders into the most efficient picking sequence.

Zone picking – assign order pickers to specific zones and they only pick orders within their own zones.

Wave picking – this works well if there are many SKUs. The WMS creates order waves to determine the amount of labour and time needed for each wave of picking. Orders are sorted and placed into individual orders and/or shipments later.

  1. Use the shortest path

Analyse how customers place their orders so you can slot your pick faces and group your items to use the shortest possible picking path. This takes a bit of time to do, but it will significantly reduce your travel distance.

  1. Touch items once only

If you focus on preventing mistakes during the picking process, you will not need more repacking or shipping checks. Pickers should be the only ones to place picked inventory on trucks. Always pick directly into shipping cartons instead of tote.

  1. Pick the smallest first

Allow the smaller picks to lead the bigger ones. Begin by picking your smallest Unit of Measure (UoM) first so that your easily picked full cases do not have to wait for the most time-consuming picks.

  1. Warehouse within a warehouse

Cut down travel time for pickers by grouping together the 20 percent of SKUs that make up 80 percent of your orders. Make sure you design the 80/20 zone properly so that it can accommodate high-volume activity.