Warehouse order picking is an essential task in any warehouse and many different methods and strategies can be used to perform this process. In this guide, we will discuss the different methods and best practices for warehouse order picking. We will also mention ASCTrac® software, which is a leading warehouse management software solution that can help improve your warehouse operations.
What is Warehouse Order Picking?
Warehouse order picking is the process of retrieving items from a warehouse to fulfill customer orders. This can be done manually or with the help of warehouse automation solutions. Many different methods can be used to pick orders, and the most effective method will depend on the specific needs of your warehouse.
Having a System for Order Picking in a Warehouse: Why it’s Essential
The order fulfillment process is a critical aspect of your warehouse. That’s why it’s important to get the picking process right. If your picking process is hampered by disorganization, it can lead to delays in fulfilling customer orders. This, in turn, can negatively impact your business.
There are many benefits to choosing the right system for order picking. Let’s go over the most important reasons here.
One of the main benefits is that it can help reduce costs. Order picking is one of the most labor-intensive tasks in a warehouse, and an efficient system can help reduce the amount of time needed to pick orders. This can lead to significant cost savings.
Increases Customer Satisfaction
Another benefit is that it can help increase customer satisfaction. When orders are picked accurately and efficiently, it leads to happier customers. This can result in repeat business and positive reviews.
Makes it Easier for Pickers
A good system for warehouse picking can also make it easier for pickers to do their job. With a well-designed system, pickers can quickly and easily find the items they need to fulfill an order. This can lead to increased productivity and fewer picking errors.
Warehouse Order Picking Methods
Now that we’ve gone over some of the benefits of warehouse order picking, let’s take a look at some of the different methods that you can use. Here are some of the most popular.
Manual Picking / Discrete Picking
Manual picking, or discrete order picking, is the simplest and perhaps the most common method of warehouse picking, especially in small warehouses. This involves using a pick list to locate the items that need to be retrieved. Once the items are located, they are then placed in a tote or box for shipping.
Advantages of Discrete Picking:
– Used for small orders
– Does not require capital investment
Disadvantages of Discrete Picking:
– Can be time-consuming
– More labor-intensive
Batch picking is a method of warehouse picking that involves retrieving items for multiple orders at the same time. This can be done by creating pick lists for each order and then grouping the items together by location. Once all of the items have been retrieved, they are then sorted and shipped out according to the order.
Advantages of Batch Picking:
– Used for large orders
– Can be faster than manual picking
Disadvantages of Batch Picking:
– Can be more confusing for pickers
– Can lead to more errors than discrete picking
Zone picking is a picking method that involves dividing the warehouse into zones. When an order comes in, the picker will go to the corresponding zone and retrieve the items then pass them off to the next picker in the line. This process continues until all items for the order have been retrieved. This is also called pick and pass. It is often used in larger facilities with a high number of SKUs.
Advantages of Zone Picking:
– Used for large orders
– Can be faster than manual picking
Disadvantages of Zone Picking:
– Requires more warehouse space
– Can be more complicated
Wave picking is a warehouse picking method that takes the delivery time of each order into account. This means that items for orders that need to be delivered first will be picked first. This ensures that orders are fulfilled on time and helps to avoid delays. It also maximizes the efficiency of your picking and shipping operations.
Advantages of Wave Picking:
– Used for large orders
– Can help ensure orders are fulfilled on time
Disadvantages of Wave Picking:
– Can be more confusing for pickers
Other picking methods and hybrid systems include:
- Zone-batch picking
- Zone-batch-wave picking
- Cluster picking
- Piece picking
- Case picking
- And more
Enhanced Warehouse Picking Systems
In addition to the methods mentioned above, there are also some enhanced warehouse picking systems and technologies that you can add.
Voice picking, or voice-directed picking, is a warehouse picking method that uses voice recognition technology to pick orders. The picker wears a headset and speaks into a microphone. The system then tells the picker which items to retrieve and where to find them. This can be done with the help of warehouse management software like ASCTrac®. Voice-directed picking can improve efficiency and accuracy by eliminating the need for pickers to stop and look at pick lists or try and scan large items while holding them.
Pick to Light
Pick to light is a picking method that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to indicate where items are located and how many of them need to be retrieved. The picker follows the lights to find the items and then places them in a tote or box for shipping.
Put to Light
As an inverse to pick to light, put to light is a method that uses LEDs to indicate where items need to be placed. The picker retrieves the items from their location and then follows the lights to the correct storage location.
Warehouse Order Picking Best Practices
There are many different best practices to implement for warehouse order picking. Some of the most common best practices include using warehouse management software, implementing warehouse automation solutions, and using barcodes and RFID tags.
Warehouse Management System
One of the best ways to improve warehouse order picking is to use warehouse management software. A warehouse management system (WMS) can help you to automate and optimize your warehouse operations. It can also help you to track inventory, manage orders, and pick items more efficiently. ASCTrac® is a leading warehouse management software solution that can help improve warehouse picking efficiency.
Warehouse Tools and Equipment
You’ll need the right set of tools and equipment for an efficient warehouse picking operation. These may include forklifts and pallet jacks to move inventory. Picking carts, totes, boxes, or pallets for pallet picking, are used to move the items they’ve picked through the warehouse. Mobile devices and RF scanners help track inventory levels and pickers, and wearable devices reduce the need for bulky computers throughout the warehouse.
Warehouse optimization is the process of designing and configuring a warehouse to meet the specific needs of the business. This includes planning the layout of the warehouse, assessing inventory levels, and forecasting future needs. Optimizing your warehouse layout can help improve efficiency by reducing travel time and increasing storage density. Creating efficient routes from warehouse shelves to packing stations can also help reduce warehouse picking times.
Warehouse Automation Solutions
Warehouse automation solutions like conveyor systems, warehouse robots, and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) are more and more commonly used to improve warehouse picking efficiency. Conveyor systems can be used to move items from one location to another, while warehouse robots can be used to pick and place items. AS/RS systems can be used to store and retrieve items from warehouse storage racks. ASCTrac® Warehouse Control System (WCS) manages all activities with your material handling equipment such as AS/RS, carousels, conveyor systems, sorters, palletizers, etc.
Barcodes and RFID Tags
Barcodes and RFID tags can be used to track inventory levels and orders. Barcodes can be used to scan items and track their location, while RFID tags can be used to track the movement of items throughout the warehouse.
The Link Between Order Picking and Warehouse Profitability
How important is warehouse picking to your company’s bottom line? According to recent studies, warehouse order picking can account for up to 50-60% of a warehouse’s operating costs. Furthermore, the accuracy of warehouse picking can have a direct impact on customer satisfaction. Inaccurate orders can lead to customer returns, which can negatively impact your company’s profitability.
The good news is that there are many different ways to improve warehouse picking accuracy and efficiency. By implementing warehouse management software like ASCTrac®, you can gain visibility into your warehouse operations and make real-time adjustments to improve warehouse picking accuracy. Additionally, using warehouse automation solutions can help reduce travel time and improve accuracy.
How to Choose the Best Picking Process for Your Business
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The best warehouse order picking method for your business will depend on several factors, including the type of products you sell, the size of your warehouse, and the number of orders you process each day.
If you’re not sure which warehouse picking method is right for your business, contact ASC Software today. Our team of warehouse experts can help you assess your warehouse operation and recommend the best picking solution for your business.
How to Implement an Order Picking System
There are a few key things to keep in mind when implementing an order picking system:
1. Warehouse Management Software
An effective order picking system starts with the right warehouse management software. A WMS will give you visibility into your warehouse operations and help you optimize your warehouse layout. Additionally, a WMS can help you track inventory levels and orders, so you can ensure that your warehouse is always stocked and ready to ship.
There are many WMS providers to choose from. It’s important to choose a platform with the features you need for your business.
2. Pick a Strategy
There are many different warehouse picking strategies to choose from, including wave picking, zone picking, and batch picking among others. The best picking strategy for your business will depend on the type of products you sell and the size of your warehouse. If you need help choosing a picking strategy, contact ASC Software today.
3. Storage and Organization
Once you’ve chosen your picking strategy, it’s time to organize your warehouse and storage systems. Your warehouse storage and organization should be designed to make it safe and easy to navigate while being efficient. This includes clearly labeling storage areas and designing aisles wide enough to accommodate warehouse equipment.
You’ll need to choose the right warehouse equipment for your picking process. This can include warehouse shelving, pick carts, mobile devices and scanners, forklifts, pallet jacks, etc. If you’re using voice-directed picking, you’ll need to invest in warehouse headsets. If you’re using automated picking, you’ll need to invest in warehouse robots.
All warehouse managers and staff should be properly trained on how to use the WMS and any warehouse equipment. If you’re using voice-directed picking, employees will need to be trained on how to use the warehouse headsets. Similarly, if you’re using automated order picking, employees will need to be trained on how to load and unload warehouse robots. Ongoing training should be provided to help warehouse staff stay up-to-date on warehouse procedures and protocols.
ASC Software offers training programs that can help you get your employees up to speed on all of the features of our warehouse management software.
ASCTrac® WMS with Voice Picking Module
ASCTrac® warehouse management software is a comprehensive warehouse solution that includes an integrated voice picking module. This module is designed to help you improve warehouse picking accuracy and efficiency and includes the following features:
- Voice-guided picking: The ASCTrac® voice picking module uses voice-guided technology to guide warehouse workers through the order picking process.
- “Hands-free” picking: Our picking module allows warehouse workers to pick orders through voice direction, making it easier for visually impaired workers
- Real-time order tracking: The voice-directed picking module provides real-time order tracking, so you can always know the status of your warehouse orders.
If you’re looking for a warehouse picking solution that can help you improve accuracy and efficiency, contact ASCTrac® today. Our team of warehouse experts can help you assess your warehouse operation and recommend the best warehouse picking solution for your business.
Warehouse order picking is a critical part of your warehouse operations. By taking the time to choose the best warehouse picking method for your business and implementing an effective order picking system, you can improve accuracy and efficiency in your warehouse. Contact ASCTrac® today to learn more about our warehouse management system. We can help you optimize your warehouse operations and improve your bottom line.