Discrete picking is one of the most efficient and cost-effective warehouse order-picking methods. It allows warehouse operators to quickly and accurately fulfill customer orders with minimal effort, boosting productivity and saving money. In this blog, we’ll look in-depth at discrete picking, its benefits, and how it can be used in a warehouse environment.
Discrete order picking is an order-picking process that uses individual items or “discrete” units rather than bulk items. In contrast to the batch-picking method, which involves picking a large quantity of the same item in one continuous action, discrete picking requires that warehouse operators manually pick each item from storage and place it in the appropriate location.
Discrete picking is often used when order sizes are small or when a large variety of items must be picked from a given storage area. This method requires less automation than other pick methods, which makes it ideal for start-up warehouses.
When Should You Use the Discrete Method?
Discrete picking is used in warehouses and distribution centers to fulfill single orders for multiple items. It’s most applicable to items stored in bulk and organized by a pick-to-light system, where the orders are picked one item at a time. This method is most effective when the orders include large quantities of small items that don’t need to be grouped. A typical discrete picking operation contains three steps:
- Merchandise is stored in bins
- Orders are placed into containers
- Items from the orders are picked and packed
Why Does Discrete Order Picking Matter?
Discrete order picking is an essential process for any warehouse, especially for e-commerce companies that rely on a high volume of online sales. It is one of the most efficient methods to fulfill customer orders, as it requires fewer workers and less time than other methods.
Warehouses can handle more orders with fewer resources, resulting in lower labor costs and a faster order fulfillment rate. By providing a better customer experience and saving money on overhead expenses, e-commerce can compete against big-box retailers and other online merchants who may have lower prices.
Continuously reviewing and improving your warehouse operations is essential to matching the speed of modern commerce. Polymatic Solutions can help you uncover opportunities to increase speed, precision, and productivity for your warehouse.
Breaking Down the Discrete Warehouse Picking Method
Receive and Process the Customer’s Order
The first step is receiving and processing the order. This includes verifying that all items in the order are available and ready to be picked. Once the items are located, the warehouse or storage facility typically uses a picking line to move them to a packing area.
Select a Pick Path
The next step is to select a pick path, which is a route through a warehouse or storage facility that allows for efficient picking and packing of orders. The pick paths are created using a computerized routing system that optimizes for things like step height, distance, time, etc.
Pick Each Item Individually
Once a pick path is selected, the order picker can collect each item separately. This may involve using a handheld scanner or computer system to locate and track items as they are moved from one location to another throughout the warehouse.
Perform Quality Checks
Once all the items have been collected, performing quality checks is essential to ensure that the correct items are picked and packed into an order. This step can include items like checking for weight by the piece or by lot for some food products like produce or fresh meat.
Pack the Order
Once the quality check has been completed, the packer can begin packing the order for shipment or delivery. Packing can be broken down into three main categories: open-UPS, semi-automatic, and closed-box.
Open-UPS packing involves placing individual items into a box with little support or cushioning around each item. Semi-automatic packing is more advanced and typically involves placing items into a container with special inserts for protection and support during transport. Closed-box packing is where multiple boxes are loaded onto racks in specially designed trucks, with solid sides on all sides of each box.
The Benefits of Practicing Discrete Picking
Discrete order picking is a highly efficient method for warehouses to quickly and accurately fulfill orders. There are several key benefits to using discrete picking:
- Increased speed – Discrete picking increases the order processing rate since each item can be picked and packed separately rather than in large batches. This means that orders can be fulfilled quickly and more efficiently since items are already identified, picked, packaged, and ready to go.
- Improved accuracy – Having each item identified with a unique SKU number makes it easier for warehouse operators to pick each item in the proper order accurately. This also makes it relatively easy to implement since most WMS systems already include this function as part of standard operations. Having an individual SKU for each item makes it much easier to ensure that each item is correctly priced and accounted for. This can reduce the number of errors that occur when fulfilling orders, resulting in a better customer experience.
- Reduced costs – Quickly and accurately fulfilling orders helps reduce overall labor costs associated with picking and packing items. While it may initially seem more costly to individually identify each item, the savings more than offset any initial capital costs to implement discrete picking.
- Improved flexibility – Discrete picking also allows greater flexibility when fulfilling orders since individual items can be identified and picked in any order. This makes accommodating changes or special requests easier as orders come in since you’ll have more flexibility on when to pick and ship those items versus having everything shipped in one big batch (which happens when you use batch picking).
Optimize Your Picking Practices With Polymatic Solutions
Polymatic Solutions offers unparalleled picking strategies to ensure your warehouse is operating at maximum efficiency. We design pick-and-pass procedures that enable speedy, precise, and organized order fulfillment—so you can free up time and energy for your core operations.
Experience the benefits of a streamlined operation with our tailored solutions. Reach out today.
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