Warehouse management and efficiency is changing on a daily basis. How do suppliers keep up with the competition? One major area where many warehouses can improve their systems is through order picking productivity.
Whether it is small pick pack items or larger items that take up multiple pallet locations here are five excellent solutions to maximize warehouse order picking efficiency.
1. Keep your SKUs separated. There's a serious time cost in finding the right SKU out of a mix. How much? Studies have found a delay of 15 seconds or more per pick—which means that businesses lose one minute for every four items picked that way. Set up a specific pick location for each SKU.
2. Use batch or cluster strategies when picking orders, or a conveyor system to reduce time spent in travel. Travel can be up to 50% of order picking time. Combine multiple orders into a single trip to increase efficiency.
3. Use a horizontal picking system whenever possible. Single-level picking makes it easier to find necessary items without changing levels. If you don't have enough space to set it up this way, focus on prioritizing by frequency. The most commonly ordered items should be accessible, while less frequent items should be vertical.
4. Group commonly ordered items together to form a hot zone. That way your business can knows exactly where to go for, saving travel and locating time. If orders tend to be grouped by a particular category, set up zones within that category from most-picked to least-picked.
5. Group items in the correct storage type to minimize handling. Slow moving items should go into shelving bins and fast moving items are on pallet racks for quick replacement and lower restocking time. By recording how long it takes for a pick location to empty on average, decide which items are taking up important space and which items need different storage methods.
Now that you've got a few ideas on how to improve the order picking productivity in your warehouse, distribution, fulfillment or ecommerce facility, why not put a few of them into play? Understanding efficiency is the difference between a profitable year and one that leaves you owing the bank.