Order picking is a key step in a warehouse's fulfillment system. The efficiency of the pick determines how quickly packages get on the truck to be sent to the consumer. If the pickers are slow, the entire shipment could be delayed. This causes a ripple effect that is nothing short of a nightmare.
Let's take a look at some easy ways to improve order picking efficiency to keep a warehouse running at its prime.
A picking system is only as efficient as the warehouse itself. If the warehouse is poorly organized, pickers will take longer to find or get to the items that they need. Before working on order picking in general, you must assess the warehouse floor. Identify areas where picking slows down and see if there is any room for adjustment. High demand items should be in an easy place to access, while low demand options can be tucked away.
For the most part, order pickers should be the only ones to touch items before they go onto a truck. If you reduce the number of people interacting with an order, you reduce the risk of human error. The picker has a clear idea of what is in the order and where it needs to go. Relaying this information to another worker could slow down the process. Take out the extra step and you can significantly increase productivity.
For most warehouses, 20% of the items represent 80% of the sales. These items should be grouped together so pickers can always get to them. You can essentially create a mini warehouse inside the larger warehouse, positioned as close to the shipping trucks as possible. This will get orders in and out in no time.
There are several options for order picking, and one may work better for your needs than others. Small warehouses often use batch picking, where one picker completes multiple orders at once. Other warehouses use zone picking, where pickers are assigned zones that they can pick from. Orders with items in multiple zones are combined later on. Test out different techniques to see what works best for the orders in the warehouse.
If your workers are constantly walking around to fulfill orders, they may start to feel fatigued. This will cloud their judgement and increase the chance of mistakes. Try to limit the movement of each picker individually. This can be done by organizing the warehouse more efficiently or designating picking zones that are easy to move around in. Ask your workers about ways you could improve their work environment, and you might be surprised by the results.
Follow the suggestions above and you will see a major improvement in warehouse operations.
For more information about warehousing, Contact Overflo at 1-800-626-0616
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