Order picking is an important but overlooked process in warehouse management, whereas the order fulfillment depends on this process. There are several things that slow down the order picking process, such as inefficient strategies and inaccuracies in inventory counts.
Order picking errors can cause delays in the process of packing goods and shipping orders, which then eventually lead to customer dissatisfaction.
Here are some easy ways you can implement to increase the productivity of your order picking in your warehouse.
1. Have Multiple Locations Per SKU
Mixing multiple SKUs in the same bin location is very inefficient. Studies have shown that mixing different SKUs in the same bin location can slow down the order picking process, because pickers have to search through the different SKUs to find the item to be picked.
This can also cause errors, for example an order picker could accidentally picks the wrong item since it is placed between several different SKUs. Therefore, having a discrete pickup location for each SKU is a must.
2. Segment Your Inventory by Demand Variability
You certainly don’t want to spend a lot of time picking your top-selling items. So, it’s important to separate them from the slow-moving ones.
Make sure the bin location for the most popular items is quite close to the packaging and shipping area. You can place your slow-moving inventory a little further.
Read the related article: 6 Inventory Management Hacks for Manufacturers
3. Know Your Inventory on Hand Accurately
Do not get the order picker confused due to discrepancies between the amount of items recorded on your inventory system and the amount of items you actually have. When the picker finds a difference, they will need to make inventory adjustments and this will take a lot of time.
To avoid that scenario, you need to ensure that you can always keep track of your inventory on hand. Therefore, it’s important for you to have a good inventory management system.
HashMicro’s Inventory Management System allows you to know exactly the number of items you have in real time. It can also be integrated with barcode scanners, so that incoming and outgoing items can be scanned and immediately recorded on the system.
4. Implement the Right Order Picking Strategy
There is no best order picking strategy suitable for all companies, because what is best for one company is not necessarily best for other companies. Everything depends on the number of orders they have, the area and layout of their warehouses, and their company policies.
Here are some common order picking strategies used by many manufacturing companies:
The batch picking method requires the picker to take some items from several orders, one SKU, at the same time.
This method will be very helpful if you have several orders with the same SKU. When that happens, the picker only needs to make one trip to the pickup location for that particular SKU.
This method is also called pick-and-pass picking. It requires the picker to pick up items in a specified zone. They are responsible for selecting all SKUs located in the particularized zone.
When an order requires multiple SKUs in different zones, the items must be taken in turns from each zone, for example when all SKUs from zone 1 have been taken, the picker can proceed to pick up items from zone 2 and so on until they are put in the packaging area or directly put in the shipping area.
The picking cluster is the process of taking several items from several orders in one trip and then putting them into different containers. Usually, multi-tray trolleys are used to collect the items taken. Each order must be put in a different tray.
Wave picking requires the picker to take items from one order, one SKU, at a time. In this method, orders can be scheduled to be taken at certain times of the day, to coordinate and optimize the picking and shipping process.
With HashMicro’s Inventory Management System, you can schedule your order picking and find the location of your items by SKU and serial number in just seconds.
5. Implement Warehouse Management Software
To speed up the picking process, you need to ensure that you have a lean warehouse management strategy. To improve efficiency, consider using a warehouse management software (WMS).
HashMicro’s WMS does not only help you improve your order picking productivity, but also oversees your inventory movement and helps speed up the inventory audit process. This system can also be integrated with an inventory management system and a purchasing management system to optimize your end-to-end supply chain.