The picking process involves some cost and can have a significant impact on customer satisfaction. Let’s work together to improve this important process in the supply chain.
Demand efficient picking
The choice of a picking method depends on a number of conditions, including cost, complexity, the volume of customer orders and the size of items and orders. Each company has unique requirements and a picking solution may be suitable for one company but not for another. The goal must be to continuously increase picking efficiency. Factors such as route optimization, quality assurance and reduction of throughput times play an important role in this.
Below is an overview of some picking methods and tools:
This picking method is common in many fulfillment processes. The process includes a storage area, a picking area and a material flow system that refills the picking stations from the storage area.
The pickers receive the items for compiling customer orders from the picking area. Since the picking area is smaller than the general storage area in the regular warehouse, the pickers can fulfill the order more efficiently.
This method uses the same elements as the Picker to Part method: storage area, picking area and a material handling system. The difference is that in this method, the picking area consists of a number of picking stations. The products are moved from the storage area and delivered to the picking stations. Each stock compartment receives the items for one or more orders. The picker then picks up the products after they have been delivered to his or her picking station and fulfills the customer orders.
The sorting system method uses an automatic material handling system consisting of several conveyors and a number of sorting devices. The items are placed on a conveyor in the storage area and sorted for each individual order. The operator in the picking area collects the items sorted for a sales order and processes that order.
The advantage of this method is that the picker does not have to take the time to collect individual articles.
The pick-to-box method is similar to the sorting system in that it uses the same elements: a picking area, a storage area, replenishment of the picking area and sorting devices.
The picking area is organized in such a way that there are a number of picking zones that are connected by a conveyor system. The picker fills the carton with the items of a sales order, after which the carton moves to other picking zones until the sales order is completed. Then the carton is shipped to the customer.
There are a number of technological tools for picking processes, for example pick-by-light systems. Pick-by-light systems use a light signal and a numerical display on the shelf compartment to inform the order picker which article has to be picked and in which quantity. A confirmation button is used to confirm picking.
With voice-controlled picking systems (Pick-by-Voice), the pickers are informed via headsets which articles are to be picked. The picking is also confirmed by voice.
Pick-by-Scan ensures paperless picking, which is supported by a mobile data acquisition device, MDE for short. The classic picking list in paper form is replaced by the MDE. Mobile handheld computers with integrated 1D or 2D barcode scanners are used to guide the employee step by step through the individual picking positions.
Picking at PORTICA
PORTICA uses a variety of different picking methods, both paper-based (e.g. delivery note picking) and paperless (e.g. scanner picking), single-stage (e.g. manual warehouse picking) and multi-level (e.g. pre-packaging, pick-by-light machines) as well as series and order-oriented methods. We select the appropriate picking method for the respective client or order. E-commerce picking, for example, requires a different procedure than advertising material picking, which is required by companies for their sales promotion or marketing logistics activities. Individual orders are also picked differently than mailings or circulars.
For individual orders we use scanner-based manual warehouse picking as standard.
With our standard, single-level, scanner-based, manual warehouse picking of individual orders, all items are located in the picking area for each client. Any replenishment is requested from the high-bay warehouse as required. For picking, several individual orders are always transmitted to the scanner in a collective manner (batch processing) and then picked in parallel (multi order picking system) and assigned to the respective individual order. This is done several times during the day. The individual orders are bundled in such a way that the routes are optimized. In addition, the system uses the scanner to provide the picker with the optimal route. A delivery note is generated at the packing station, the carton is built up, filled, sealed and labelled with a shipping label, the package is weighed (error prevention), the shipping data is recorded in the shipping system, the package is prepared for shipping and transferred to the carrier.
Two-step picking of individual orders is also possible. Here, in a first picking step, we would pick the total required article quantities (from the orders of the past 24 hours) once a day in the local warehouse. Any replenishment for the local warehouse is requested from the high-bay warehouse as required. The articles are then placed in a pick-by-light system (PbL) and the orders are transferred electronically to this PbL. The use of our PbL always makes sense if you have a sufficiently large number of different individual orders for a limited number of different articles within these orders. The picking of the articles to the individual orders takes place in the second picking step from this system. 1-pick orders are picked directly. In the case of multiple pick orders, a delivery note is first scanned: then the PbL uses light signals to indicate which articles have to be picked in which quantity for this order. After the respective picking processes, the packing process takes place, i.e. the articles are packed into the required envelopes/cartons, sealed, labelled with a shipping label, the shipping data are recorded in the shipping system, the package is prepared for shipping and transferred to the carrier. An advantage of two-step picking is the zero remaining quantity procedure: The quantities picked in the first picking step should have been completely packed by the end of the second picking step. If this is not the case, the picking has to be readjusted.
Circulars (mass mailings / push orders) are usually also processed in two-step picking. The first picking step corresponds to the procedure described above. The second picking step is carried out automatically supported by suitable lettershop machines (due to the similarity of the mailings, the use of PbL does not make sense here). If this is not technically possible or not practical in terms of scope, manual packing is used.