The order-picking process is one of the most important operations in your warehouse. It is essential to have an organized, efficient distribution center to maximize efficiency and make sure customer orders arrive on time. But what exactly does that mean? This comprehensive guide will walk you through best practices for improving your order-picking process to ensure maximum efficiency and accuracy.
Why Does the Order-Picking Process Matter?
Order picking is one of the most critical processes in your warehouse, as it ensures that customer orders are picked quickly and accurately. If your process is not optimized, it can lead to delays in customer shipments, costing you time and money.
Picking productivity is a massive concern for warehouse managers. Employees spend hours daily walking around the facility, searching for items to pick from shelves. This process can drain your resources when unoptimized, especially if there are not enough people to pick all the items on order.
There are a few key areas you should focus on to optimize the order-picking process in your warehouse. Here are some areas to pay special attention to and tips to get you started:
Facility Flow and Warehouse Organization
The first step in any order-picking process is ensuring that the layout of your warehouse is organized. Arrange your facility in a way that follows the flow of items from receipt and putaway to replenishment, picking, consolidation, and ultimately outbound. Place visible signs around the space to help new workers (or those unfamiliar with changes) find their way. Ensure shelves and aisles remain tidy and wide enough for efficient movement—not too cramped or clogged up. This will ensure smooth operations while preventing slowdowns due to congestion.
Establish a Solid Receiving Process
Having an efficient receiving process is essential for effective order-picking operations. This involves setting up a system that allows new inventory to be quickly checked off when it arrives at the warehouse and put away in the correct location. This helps minimize unnecessary delays in tasks later on down the line.
You should also have a designated area where new inventory can be held before moving to its intended location within the warehouse. Establish solid timelines with shippers, set loading objectives, and meet them. Be sure to properly document all incoming shipments so everything is clear about where items should go.
Use Bins and Totes for the Order Fulfillment Process
Bins, totes, and other storage options are indispensable for inventory management. Bins provide simple storage solutions for smaller items, with totes offering more flexibility for larger inventories. Dividers ensure that multiple items stay separate so order pickers can retrieve them more quickly. No more rummaging through boxes to find a specific product.
Proper warehouse equipment is essential in creating an efficient, streamlined order-picking process that reduces search times and prevents accidental mix-ups between products. Whether your products are stored on shelves, racks, or factored into an automated system, subdividing your items with bins and totes elevates your productivity across operations.
Preventing human error in warehouse operations is easier with Polymatic Solutions. We deliver high-performance picking systems that reduce fulfillment time by addressing orders based on real-time conditions.
Select an Impactful Warehouse Order-Picking Method
When it comes to order picking, there are several methods available. Depending on the size and complexity of your warehouse, one approach may be more suitable than another. Here is a breakdown of four popular methods for you to consider:
Zone picking is a particularly effective strategy in large facilities that require a lot of walking to get from one product to the next. It requires dividing your warehouse into different areas and assigning pickers to specific zones to pick orders efficiently. The goal of this method is to allow for the simultaneous picking of multiple orders, eliminating long wait times for retrieving the right items.
Wave Picking enables warehouse orders to be organized according to key times of the day and specific zones. This strategy makes the most of scheduling events like replenishments, worker availability, and shipment deadlines. To get the full advantage of this approach, it should be coordinated with a warehouse management system that sends out batches of orders according to set conditions.
Using this approach, multiple orders are grouped based on their pick location. This can be a great way to reduce unnecessary backtracking for the order-picker. This is especially useful when dealing with product families with similar SKUs, as it can help prevent confusion around where an item is on the shelf.
Implement Light-Directed Technology
Light-directed technology is used to direct order pickers to the location of their next selection. Typically, this system is used in warehouses with multiple aisles and high shelving. It places a small illuminated indicator at each pick station. Warehouse workers follow the directions on the lights to navigate their way around the facility.
This system is often integrated with warehouse management systems to provide total visibility of picking activities. The light-directed solutions increase accuracy and reduce errors in warehouse operations.
Introduce Goods-to-Person Technology
Goods-to-person technology typically involves robots or automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), which automate the movement of pallets and containers. They can be programmed to move goods from their storage locations in the warehouse to the pick station, where they are ready for selection by an operator.
Goods-to-person functionality eliminates the need for workers to walk around the warehouse looking for items, saving travel time and energy. The technology can also help increase accuracy by reducing human errors. Having the goods delivered directly to the pick station makes it less likely for items to be misplaced or forgotten. Your staff can fulfill orders in record time and make short work of high-volume requests, refining your supply chain and increasing customer satisfaction.
Enhance the Order-Picking Warehouse Process With Polymatic Solutions
For businesses to ship out products on time, they need to get order picking right. Good strategies speed up the process and ensure that orders are placed accurately and efficiently. The key to success is a well-organized facility flow, warehouse organization, and well-defined receiving process.
At Polymatic Solutions, we specialize in helping warehouses develop efficient order-picking processes. Our solutions focus on streamlining the process and maximizing efficiency. We have a team of experts who can help you evaluate your current facility flow and warehouse organization and identify improvement areas.
With our team, you gain the resources to maintain a smooth workflow and prevent complications in your supply chain. We help you establish a tighter operation to yield higher customer satisfaction and further establish your reputation as a leading force in your industry.
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