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Picking is one of the most important elements to define the efficiency of a warehouse: on this activity depends the speed and accuracy in order processing. Read on to find out how to optimize this process in your warehouse!
The “picking” process consists in selecting goods from an original unit load that is divided into other unit load for the preparation of an order.
A central activity in the warehouse management, on which depends more than half of the costs of the logistics area: it is therefore essential to optimize this step in order to improve the entire logistics process.
Understanding picking times is critical to understanding if the process can be improved. In the case of manual picking, if operators have to move around the entire warehouse area several times to pick the products they need, something is definitely wrong.
Check the movement time of each product and how long it takes to pick items for an order, so you can intervene effectively by placing items that frequently need to be moved to the shelves easier to access, preferably near the area where they will be processed in orders.
Grouping similar items in specific areas can facilitate product identification while reducing picking times, which can be done in different ways.
The first is “zone picking”: employees have an assigned area and pick only the products that are in that specific area.
In the “batch picking” multiple orders are selected from a specific zone in a single movement.
Finally, “wave picking” is the combination of the first two methods, in which products from different orders and from multiple zones are picked in a single session. This method, which can only be applied through a WMS, is useful to assess productivity, to determine the amount of workforce required and to obtain feedback on performance.
Once you have organized your warehouse based on the speed of product movement or grouping similar items, it is easy to establish the best picking paths. Thanks to their standardization, picking times will be further reduced as well as costs resulting from poor efficiency of the process.
The strategies indicated in the previous points can improve picking accuracy only if product data are correct. Name, location and labels must always match the items, so that they can be immediately identified and errors due to outdated stock data or misplaced goods can be minimized.
Entrusting picking activities exclusively to operators exposes you to the risk of errors and, in addition, significantly increases picking time. There are many automation tools to suit all needs that can make a difference in order preparation, streamlining the entire process and at the same time providing useful data to understand how to further improve it.