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Order Picking Methods

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Out of all the processes going on in your warehouse, order picking has to be one of the most important. As a general rule, you’ll always have more outbound orders than inbound orders, so an optimised picking method is very important indeed. Furthermore, owing to the fact that the picking method you use will directly impact the speed of service that your customer receives, picking methods tie in very closely with customer satisfaction. Your ability to quickly and reliably match customers with their orders has a direct impact on the success of your business. To help you make the most of this important factor, we’ve decided to explain some of the order picking methods available to you, so that you can see which will work best for you.

Picker to Part or Piece Picking Method

In this method, the order picker moves and collects the products required for one order at a time. This basic method of order picking involves sending a member of staff into the warehouse with a list of items and a box to gather them in. The employee finds and retrieves each item required, taking the quickest route through the warehouse they can. While simple, this is certainly not the most efficient method available.

Zone Picking

In the zone picking method, every order picker is assigned a single zone and retrieves items located in this zone only. Although perhaps more organised than the piece picking method, it is certainly not as efficient as many other options.

Batch Picking

In this picking method, each order picker is assigned to multiple orders at the same time, in a bid to reduce the number of trips required to each location.

Wave Picking

Wave picking exists as a variation on batch and zone picking, whereby rather than moving orders between zones for picking, all zones are picked at once to be sorted into separate orders later on. Wave picking is considered to be one of the quickest picking methods available, although the time it takes to sort items into separate orders can be a hindrance. Systems managing high-pick orders and higher numbers of SKUs can generally benefit from the use of a wave picking system. This method can be used to isolate orders by specific routes, zones or carriers.

Automated Picking System

Automated picking systems are often the most efficient and reliable options available. They can combine conveyor systems with intelligent warehouse software to create an automated picking system which is perfectly tailored to your warehouse. Keymas have designed full systems from the ground up, working alongside the customer to build projects which transform warehouse operations.

Advantages of an automated picking system include:

  • system and software working together to create an effective and productive solution to your order fulfilment needs;
  • reduction of labour costs associated with a more efficient picking process;
  • increased accuracy associated with the use of barcode scanners to fulfil your customer’s order more accurately;
  • customisable software which allows you to find the perfect picking system for your business;
  • integration with your accounts, eCommerce system or business;
  • accurate live inventory management;
  • reduction of postage rates through increased accuracy and optimised order volume;
  • software and engineering systems working together to create the optimum working environment.

Improving your Picking System

Whatever your picking system, you need to be sure that it’s working the best it can for your business. Here are a few top tips on keeping your system running as efficiently as possible:

  1. Minimising errors which may occur during picking will reduce the need for repacking and shipping checking.
  2. You and your employees are more likely to make mistakes when tired, so it’s important to reduce fatigue by eliminating walking where possible.
  3. Keep your orders as accurate as possible by programming your standard operating system to double-verify as often as possible.
  4. Introducing automated systems, such as conveyor belts, will reduce travel time for pickers.
  5. Consider the various picking methods available to you and figure out which will work best for your business. The right picking method can make all the difference.

For more on picking systems, check out this blog post: Why Should You Move from Paper Based Picking to an Automated Picking System?

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