The warehouse order picking process is a critical component in the supply chain lifecycle. Without an efficient order picking process, businesses would experience losses in productivity and profitability. Order picking plays a big role in the business's bottom line, it affects the overall productivity of the warehouse operations and subsequently the efficiency of the supply chain as well as costs related to order picking.
Order picking in warehouse
What is Order Picking?
Order picking is the process of selecting products from storage areas and preparing them for shipment. It is also one of the biggest cost contributors of warehouse labor, accounting for up to 36% of labor-related overhead. The order picking process varies depending on fulfillment strategy and inventory size.
Order picking makes up to 36% of the total labor costs in warehouses and distribution centers, as well as 40% of the operating expenses of an average retail store.
The current state of order picking processes can be improved. For example, 50% of an order picker’s time is usually spent walking around the facility to find products from their designated locations. Electronic shelf labels improve order picking efficiency through price accuracy and tracking features that enable consistent and real-time data streams.
That's why it's important to always strive to improve order picking productivity. Here are some of the best practices and recommendations you can implement or adapt:
Do not use paperwork
Paper is a thing of the past, and warehouses are taking note. A warehouse that uses paper-based pick tickets can suffer from issues such as:
Accuracy and quality assurance: Pickers can easily make mistakes when trying to pick the wrong item or when picking the wrong quantity. They also may be slow at checking for quality assurance by looking for damage and checking expiration dates.
Productivity: Pickers have to stop at each location to pick a product, which means they have to go back and forth between their workstation and the item location repeatedly. They also have to walk around with a bunch of paper, which can get in their way as they work.
Wastefulness: Some warehouses still use carbon paper to make copies of tickets, which is wasteful and bad for the environment.
By going paperless, you not only streamline your process but also can reduce wastefulness and increase productivity. The use of electronic shelf labels improves order picking, mobile gadgets, and a host of other tools that can help managers and staff achieve more with less time. Those who have already chosen this path have realized as much as a 25% increase in their productivity!
Order picking strategies
With an ever-increasing demand for faster delivery, warehouses are under more pressure than ever to improve order picking productivity. To achieve this, it is important to know how to improve your order picking process, and which strategies are best suited to your scenario.
On average, 50% of an order picker’s working time is spent traveling between locations and up and down the aisles looking for the exact items needed. This means that half of the daily picking hours are actually wasted on travel time and wasted movement, resulting in poor productivity.
By streamlining your warehouse processes, you can reduce your travel time and increase your productivity. We have outlined our top 5 tips for improving order picking productivity in this article.
Choose the Right Order Picking Strategy.
Optimize Your Warehouse Layout.
Increase Your Slotting Efficiency.
Invest in Automation for Improved Productivity.
Choose the Right Order Picking Strategy
There are 2 main types of picking an order, based on a company’s requirements, the warehouse can choose either of the techniques or a combination of to maximize their productivity.
In these types of picks, a warehouse is divided into different zones and each zone is assigned to a picker or group of pickers who are trained for operating in their zone only. So, they are required to do multiple picks which lower their productivity.
Batch Picking involves grouping products from different areas of the warehouse into batches so that pickers don't need to retrieve them one by one all over the place; instead, they just pull them once, which speeds up productivity.
Pick to light system
What is pick-to-light technology?
Pick to light devices is a warehouse picking system that uses light, digital displays, and other indicators to help workers identify the locations and quantities of items to be picked, as well as to confirm that the correct items have been selected. This innovative system is growing in popularity and is known and proven to improve the efficiency of the picking process, and thus result in greater productivity.
The display and indicator of various Electronic Ink Shelf Label configurations are some options and variations in the pick to light devices system. The indicator light can be installed in several different configurations, including on each shelf or rack, or on a digital display such as an Electronic Shelf Label (ESL). The pick-to-light device's system then integrates with your Warehouse Management System. As orders are assigned to specific pickers, they will receive tasks via their mobile devices or wearable technology. The Pick-by-Light system will then activate to alert them where they should go next to pick the item.
In the end, there are many different things that are driving this improvement in warehouse efficiency, including a wide range of technologies and software solutions. But one thing is clear: by developing more efficient, optimized processes and procedures for order picking in your warehouse, you can expect increased productivity and reduced costs. Implementing electronic shelf labels improve order picking into your warehouse operations will benefit your business in numerous ways.
MinewTag’s ESL is a reliable and comfortable option for companies to consider. It is a cost-saving device, which enables companies with low budgets to gain more benefits when they use it in their operations. This device also helps to reduce errors, increase efficiency, and keep track of the inventory in real-time.