Finest Order Picking Mechanisms Aaj Enterprises July 1, 2020

Warehouse Management

Finest Order Picking Mechanisms

What does Order Picking mean?

Order picking refers to a simple yet complex process where individual items are extracted and picked from a fulfillment facility to satisfy customers’ orders.
According to a survey of the Warehouse Logistics Education and Research Council, order picking has been identified as the number one area for improvement in warehousing. In fact, over half of warehouse operating costs are attributed to order picking. This arises from the increased emphasis on operating concepts such as just-in-time (JIT), cycle time reduction, quick response, and new marketing strategies. These strategies require that:

  • Smaller orders be delivered to warehouse customers more frequently and more accurately
  • More stock keeping units (SKUs) be available for the customers.
    The overall result is an increase in throughput, storage, and accuracy requirements.
  • Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to improve order picking productivity without increasing staffing or making significant investments in highly automated equipment.

Order Picking Mechanisms Include:

1. Discrete Order Picking
The most common type of order picking because it is basic and simple to understand. When employing a discrete order picking methodology, one order-picker picks one order, one line at a time.

2. Zone Picking (Pick & Pass methodology)
Order pickers are assigned a specific and physically defined zone in the pick area. The picker assigned to each zone is responsible for picking all of the SKUs located in the zone for each order. In the event that an order requires SKUs that are located in multiple zones, the order is filled after it passes through each zone.

3. Batch Picking
Batch picking is when one picker picks a group, or batch, of orders at the same time, one SKU at a time. This method is advantageous in order to reduce travel time, which increases productivity.

4. Cluster Picking
Cluster picking is a methodology of picking into multiple order containers at one time. The containers could either be either totes containing order batches, discrete order shippers, or discrete order totes.

5. Wave Picking
It is very similar to discrete picking in that one picker picks one order, one SKU at a time. The main difference is the scheduling window. In discrete picking, there is not a scheduling window whereas in wave picking there is. Orders may be scheduled to be picked at specific times of the day, which is usually done to coordinate and maximize the picking and shipping operations.

6. Zone-Batch-Wave Picking
The most complex combination of all of the order picking methodologies. Each picker is assigned a zone and picks all SKUs for orders stocked in the assigned zone. Additionally, the picker picks more than one SKU at a time and there are multiple scheduling windows per shift. This method is great for high volume warehouses.

However, it is difficult to say which method is best for order picking since it depends on how big the warehouse storage is, how much inventory is there, how many orders the facility gets etc. but the right one to be chosen to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity.

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