Stock Picking is one of the crucial aspects of warehousing. Each warehouse differs basis design, size, layout, product it warehouses, equipment & technology it adopts. Moving between pick locations is estimated to be taking around 50% of the time which is pretty high considering dynamicity of supply chain industry & hence reducing time to pick orders becomes essential to improvise efficiency & fulfil customer orders timely. Technology plays a vital role in digitizing your warehouse operations, so is equally important to work out a best fit approach for picking stocks.
Picking strategies vary from industry to industry & products however there are various picking strategies that are applicable to major companies:
Piece Picking is the most basic picking strategy where inventories are pulled pertaining to each individual order, ideally suited for small scale warehouse operations or in small pharmacy/dispensary outlets
Zone picking is a picking method where professionals are designated to zones & would pick the stocks only from those dedicated zones. Stocks for multiple orders are picked from different zones simultaneously. This method helps where professionals are skilled & trained to picking stocks from dedicated zones basis the attributes of products and handling SOPs within each zones.
Wave picking is process of picking of multiple orders at the same time. Orders are grouped together into ‘Wave’ & scheduled, according to type of a product, set of customers, locality of dispatch, type of carrier they will be distributed by, type of packaging etc. Each wave of products is usually made between 45 minutes to 2 hours, basis type of warehouse or products. Pickers lift the stocks from the shelves basis the wave & put it up in the staging area, from where the packers ensure the products are grouped & packed basis each order & customer for delivery.
- Advantages of Wave Picking:
- Efficient if majority orders contain same items
- Splitting into two stages: picking & packing ensures double check of inventories going into customer orders, further reducing chances of returns
- Disadvantages of Wave Picking:
- Costly as it adds up to the space required for the staging area
- If orders have to many different items, it negates the efficiency
Batch picking is where a picker picks a batch of orders with the goal of reducing repeated trips to the same location. Order systems can intelligently group processed orders into batch picking & suggest efficient routes to pick. This is recommended when there are multiple orders requiring the same product & orders have fewer SKUS
- Advantages of Batch Picking
- Picker has to visit a location only once for a product, for multiple orders
- Reduces travel times within warehouse & improvises efficiency
- Disadvantages of Batch Picking
- Inefficient for companies with large number of SKUs
- Must not be used if products to be handled are not similar for e.g. if items do not have a similar size batch picking will not be helpful
In voice picking, professionals/pickers wear a portable computer with a headset & microphone. Computer is directly linked to a warehouse management system from where they get real time commands & their actions are synched to the main system as they perform or undertake work/actions. This picking technology has a higher productivity as compared to using barcode scanning or RF technology as it negates involvement of professional’s hands/eyes. Picking happens in real time & managers exactly know when the instructions are listened & responded to. Managers have a real time overview of entire operations within the warehouse & could easily identify trainings needs to fill the gaps.
All of the above strategies aim to improvise efficiency of activities within warehouse however, depending on the size, operations, inventory of products, type of products, volume of picking etc. companies must choose the best fit approach to meet their business needs in terms of picking strategies within the warehouse.
For evaluating what is the best method for your enterprise, call one of our expert consultants to help you arrive at a conclusion.