Order-picking efficiency is critical for warehouse operations. It entails picking and gathering things from storage locations in order to precisely and quickly fulfill client requests.
Optimizing order-picking procedures may substantially influence a company’s bottom line in today’s competitive industry. This article investigates several warehouse order-picking strategies, providing insights into their benefits, drawbacks, and best-use scenarios.
Order Picking Methods
1. Discrete Order Picking
Because it is straightforward and easy to grasp, this is the most popular sort of order choice. One order-picker chooses one order, one line at a time while using a discrete order-picking process. Furthermore, there is only one order scheduling window available throughout a shift. As a result, orders are not planned and can be picked up at any moment during the day.
The benefits of employing this type of order picking include simplicity, excellent for paper-based picking, quick response time for order fulfillment, and the ability to readily track order picker accuracy.
However, this is the least efficient way since it needs more travel time than other methods, and warehouse picking rates lag behind.
2. Zone Picking
Order pickers are allocated a physically defined zone in the pick area. Each zone’s picker is responsible for choosing all SKUs located in the zone for each order. If an order involves SKUs located in different zones, the order is filled after passing through each zone.
This is also known as the “pick and pass” approach. There is just one scheduling period for each shift in zone selection. This implies that there is a deadline for orders to be queued into the order selection process, and any orders received after that deadline will be completed during the following shift.
3. Bulk Picking
When one picker chooses a group, or batch, of orders at the same time, one SKU at a time, this is known as batch picking. This is useful when there are several orders with the same SKU. When this happens, the order picker only has to go to the pick location for that particular SKU once to fill the many orders.
The major benefit of using this strategy is that it reduces travel time, which boosts productivity. Batch picking is frequently utilized when the normal order profile has only a few SKUs (under four) and the physical dimensions of the SKUs are minimal. Batch picking, like zone picking, requires only one order scheduling window for each picking shift.
4. Cluster Picking
Picking into numerous order containers at once is referred to as cluster picking. Totes holding order batches, discrete order shippers, or discrete order totes might be used as containers.
Cluster picking is beneficial to two different piece-picking methods. Among the various options for building your warehouse picking process, this one provides options for both human and automated picking:
Pick-to-cart operations, in which a cart is filled with numerous totes or shippers, and the picker makes one trip through the pick zone and sorts to the pick containers, minimizing unnecessary travel.
The picker would create the pick container batch, which would commence the mechanized pick modules, and the items would be sorted to the right pick container using vertical lift modules (VLM) or carousel operations utilizing the independent zone picking approach. By reducing the amount of machine cycles, this strategy is utilized to optimize the VLM and carousel pods.
5. Wave Picking
Wave picking is similar to discrete picking in that just one order, one SKU, is picked at a time. The scheduling window is the primary distinction. There is no scheduling window in discrete picking, but there is in wave picking. Orders may be scheduled to be picked at specified times of the day, which helps to coordinate and optimize the picking and shipping processes.
6. Zone-Batch Picking
This is a hybrid approach in which pickers are allocated a zone, similar to standard zone picking, but they are also told to batch-pick inside their zone. Because zone-picking and batch-picking both have a scheduling window, zone-batch picking does as well.
7. Zone-Wave Picking
Zone-Wave Picking is a system in which pickers are allocated a zone and each picker inside their zone selects all SKUs for all orders stored in their zone, one order at a time, with one scheduling window per shift.
8. Zone-Batch-Wave Picking
The most complicated combination of order-choosing techniques. Each picker is allocated a zone and is responsible for picking all SKUs for orders stored in that zone. Furthermore, the picker selects more than one SKU at a time, and each shift has numerous scheduling windows.
Order-picking efficiency is at the heart of efficient warehouse operations. It’s a key procedure with ramifications ranging from consumer happiness to the bottom line. As we’ve seen, each order selection approach has its own set of pros and downsides, making it suited for different cases.