Each step in order fulfillment relies on the one before it. Shippers cannot transport items until forklift operators bring pallets to the dock. Pallets can't be filled with items until packers put them in boxes. At the start of this whole process is the pickers – the people who pull items from the warehouse to complete orders. In this guide, we will go over some proven ways to reduce order picking times to speed up the fulfillment process as a whole.
There are different order picking methods that you can use in a warehouse. Batch picking requires a picker to process multiple orders at once so they don't have to go back to the same areas time and time again. Zone picking assigns a specific zone to each picker, and that person only picks items within their designated zone. Another less popular option is wave picking, where multiple zones pick at the same time, and then the items are sorted into individual orders later on.
If your current picking method is not working well, try a different one that will be more efficient for your workers. Think about how the warehouse is set up and what types of orders are most frequently fulfilled. Then you can come up with a solution that works for your facility and your customers.
Mobile workstations are ideal for order picking. One of the most time consuming elements of the picking process is walking around between stations. With a mobile workstation, pickers can do everything they need to do in one location and bring their work with them as they go. They can label products, stack items, process orders, and enter product information all in one place. Fulfillment centers with fixed workstations are far less productive in the long run, and the workers feel more exhausted than they need. The mobile option is a win-win for everyone.
There is nothing worse than sending a picker to get an item only to find out it's not there at all. This is usually the result of inefficient inventory management systems. If inventory is not tracked and stocked based on real-time data, it's easy for simple mistakes to happen. These add up and can cost the warehouse a great deal of extra overhead.
In the digital world, most people look to technology to solve problems in business operations. Sometimes it pays to be old-school though. Since order picking requires people to hold items in their hands, they may not have a chance to use a scanner or tablet to complete a certain task. That's where voice communication comes into play. Items should still be entered into the inventory management system with scanners and other devices, but some steps in order picking can rely on hands-free vocal communication. Find a way to integrate this with the rest of the order picking steps, and there should be a big boost in productivity and comfort.
For more information about warehousing, Contact Overflo at 1-800-626-0616
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