What Is Order Picking? Best Methods & Strategies
If you run a business centered around goods then there’s no doubt you know about order picking. It’s the lifeblood of any goods warehouse. If you’ve got issues with order picking then customer satisfaction is sure to drop. Knowing the best methods and strategies for running your process is crucial.
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
What Is Order Picking?
Order picking is a process in which goods are retrieved from warehouses in a specific order. It’s the first stage in fulfilling a customer’s order, and the most important. Accuracy when order picking is a must in warehouse operation. Flawless order picking allows for all other warehouse processes to function smoothly.
Accurate order picking also leads to lower warehouse costs. In many industries, order picking is the highest warehouse operational cost. Warehouse managers are paid high salaries to ensure that the process is as efficient as possible. When orders are picked correctly the first time a warehouse can also enjoy lower shipping costs. This is because orders won’t need to be picked again and reshipped.
Types of Picking
There are several types of picking that happen in warehouses depending on the processes.
- Piece Picking - Also known as discrete picking, and occurs with smaller orders
- Pallet Picking - Picking that involves picking entire pallets rather than pieces
- Case Picking - Similar to pallet picking, but not all the pallet is picked
Methods of Picking
There are several different methods that fall under the three types of picking.
- Single Order Picking - Associates pick individual items for minimal orders. Good for smaller orders.
- Batch Picking - Allows associates to pick and build multiple orders at one time.
- Wave Picking - Allows associates to pick similar items for multiple orders. Orders are then built after items are dropped off in a consolidation area.
- Zone Picking - Zone picking is ideal for larger orders, and associates are given a zone to work in. Zone picking can be done through zone-wave picking or zone-batch picking.
The Best Methods and Strategies for Order Picking
When increasing warehouse efficiency, you’ll need to implement the best order picking practices. The entire warehouse operation relies on order picking. As such, it needs to be the number one focus of warehouse managers. Here are the best strategies for order picking warehouse processes.
Focus on Organization
Organization in a warehouse is the biggest key to success. An organized warehouse allows for faster travel time between orders, and ensures a better picking process. Regardless of the type of picking your warehouse is doing, organization increases productivity.
Organization can be applied to placement of objects as well as signage in a warehouse. Objects should logically lead to the next items to be picked based on SKU. Signage in the warehouse should be hung to show associates where the items they’re looking for are stored.
Establish a Process
Determine what kind of picking works best in your warehouse and train associates on how to work with it. A well-defined process will keep associates engaged, and will lead to higher efficiency. If you don’t currently have a process defined, look to your most productive associates. Basing your order picking methods on their work is a recipe for success.
Utilize Scan Verification
To prevent inaccurate orders scan verification of picked items can be used. This is commonly done using radio frequency scanners or barcode scanners. As SKUs are already placed on products, integrating a barcode scanner is often an easy solution. In addition to increasing accuracy rates it can also increase efficiency. Associates will no longer need to visually verify SKUs if a barcode system or radio frequency system is put into place.
Implement Warehouse Management Software
Warehouse management software can increase overall warehouse performance through using data and math. It will allow you to track accuracy rates as well as predict box sizes and packing materials. This can lead to faster order picking times and lower shipping costs. It can also lead to lower labor costs, as associates will not need to pack orders multiple times for the right fit.
Order picking is an essential part of any business that ships goods. No matter the size of your warehouse, using better picking methods and strategies will be beneficial. Organizing your warehouse and establishing processes is key to success. Using scan verification and management software can resolve common order picking problems, as well.
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