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Inventory picking is an important element of warehouse operations. When designed well, it will that will allow operators to make the entire order preparation cycle more efficient.
The efficiency of picking procedures directly affects the speed of order fulfillment. In turn, this is linked to customer satisfaction.
This is an operational process characterized by high-intensity work that is fundamental for many warehouses. This work can be automated or manually done. In many cases, there is some level of semi-automation. This process represents a significant cost for many companies, as it is the operation that employs the most personnel, space, and means.
5 ways to improve the picking procedure
1. Choose the ideal storage solution for picking
Modern warehouse logistics can count on a wide range of possibilities to improve picking. Traditional storage methods are complemented by automatic storage solutions for pallets, crates, or containers that allow you to improve picking processes. Examples are gravity shelving that implements a FIFO strategy and push-back pallet shelving for the LIFO method. Choosing the best storage solution helps optimize inventory picking procedures and improves the safety of stored goods.
2. Reduce distances in stock
Once the goods have been properly stored, organize the families and subfamilies of items to facilitate the work of the picking agent. Put commonly bundled SKUs together to reduce movement in the warehouse.
Always take into account the volume of orders when distributing items on the shelves. This means keeping the most popular products near the area where they will be processed. Products with less demand should be allocated in areas further away from this point. To optimize distances it is necessary both to check forecasts in advance.
3. Invest operator training
Picking operators must be able to process an order in as few steps as possible. It is essential to avoid multiple revisions or re-packaging of the product. Reduce unnecessary steps and save time in the pick-up and packaging phase.
4. Leverage picking technologies
Modern warehouses have evolved and achieve smooth integration between traditional storage systems and new digital architectures. Warehouses are today able to create a perfect synergy between software, shelving, and logistics staff. In order to improve the picking procedure, it is recommended that operators take advantage of the potential of warehouse management software (WMS) to manage and refine the selection and picking activities.
5. Evaluate different withdrawal methods
To reduce the time per second, it is recommended that you evaluate which withdrawal method to apply in your warehouse. This is an essential step to optimize picking procedures.
• Pick per item: The operator processes one order at a time sequentially. This is the most traditional method of picking.
• Picking groups of articles (picking in waves): This is a method that can be achieved only after integrating with WMS software. The operator in this case receives and processes multiple orders at the same time. This method allows you to measure productivity, determine the amount of workforce you need, and get feedback on performance.
• “Zone” withdrawal: the operator processes several orders at the same time in the same area optimizing a specific phase of the pick.
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