Warehouse Picking

Over the last decade warehouse activities have come under the microscope when analysing company profitability and cutting unnecessary costs. With the emphasis on making the warehouse as efficient as possible, implementing automated picking technologies to streamline processes will be vital for businesses in the coming years.

 

Technology has given us some excellent options for automated warehouse picking, increasing accuracy, productivity and flexibility.

How do you decide which option is best for you?

Depending on your order volumes there will be certain solutions that optimise your warehouse operations. Small inefficiencies can create huge lags in the productivity of your warehouse. Choosing the right order picking strategy will be totally dependent on your business needs.

Person to Goods

Person to Goods item picking is accomplished by directing staff to varying locations within the warehouse for order fulfillment. Whilst a more traditional approach, imio-WMS-Pick can offer the following solutions to help increase productivity, optimise space, ensure faster fulfillment, improve accuracy and deliver higher customer service levels, whilst utilising this method.

Voice-directed picking

Voice-directed picking is a voice-operated, paperless picking system, which can help accuracy and efficiency whilst also assisting manual processes.

  • Pros

  • Hands free, very easy to carry

     

    Users are not tied at all to a physical location

     

    Picker Accountability

     

    In some cases can support multiple languages

  • Cons

  • Users must remember commands

     

    Reading out barcodes is slow and error prone

     

    Longer lead time

     

    Could be hard to hear in noisy environments

RF-directed picking

RF-directed picking is again a paperless system that utilises mobile radio terminals. These radio terminals have user interfaces that show employees the shortest routes for order processing. This method often adds speed and accuracy to low-volume picking processes.

RF-Scanner

  • Pros

  • Information on screen is always with the user

     

    Users are not tied at all to a physical location

     

    Picker Accountability

  • Cons

  • Could be difficult to carry

     

    User required to look at screen

Wearable Computing

  • Pros

  • Information on screen is always with the user

     

    Users are not tied at all to a physical location

     

    Hands free, very easy to carry

     

    Picker Accountability

  • Cons

  • Questions around robustness of ring scanners

     

    Questions around robustness of touchscreen

     

    Hygiene

Light-directed picking

Pick-to-Light systems use light displays to direct operators to specific stock locations, often with the benefits of maximising order picking by boosting accuracy and productivity.

  • Pros

  • Greater accuracy

     

    Low training time

     

    Picker accountability

     

    Works best in zone picking

  • Cons

  • Requires lights at all locations

     

    Integration can take much longer than the other man to goods solutions

     

    Much more rigid function than other system, in terms of the pick process

     

    Still might need to incorporate extra error proofing, such as additional barcode scanning

     

    With a high SKU population this solution become very costly

Goods to Person

Goods to Person (GTP) picking ensures items are automatically retrieved, conveyed and delivered to a workstation, where they are then manually picked.  This picking method aims to reduce or remove the travelling time between pick locations. These solutions are normally used in conjunction with a method from the last section, but deployed on a much smaller scale. imio Software Solutions has an extensive range of GTP systems including:

Mini-load / ASRS

This picking product range enables flexible, energy-efficient storage and retrieval systems.

  • Pros

  • Denser storage

     

    Reduced labour cost

     

    Increased safety / security

  • Cons

  • Important to optimise the location and group of product improve picking

     

    Important to get the number of mini loads Vs number of locations correct, so a system bottle neck is not created

Shuttle System

These systems automatically store and retrieve cases, totes or trays, which provides compact storage of goods and immediate access benefits.

Regular Shuttle System

  • Pros

  • Easy to scale

    High redundancy

     

    Energy efficiency

     

    Flexibility in layout

     

    Low impact maintenance and servicing

     

    Makes full use of warehouse height

  • Cons

  • Shelves unit are fixed in size

     

    Dimension limited to tote sizes

3D Shuttle System

  • Pros

  • Rack free solution

     

    High density storage (no aisle)

     

    Highly flexible

  • Cons

  • Product must fit in tote with no over hang

Robotic Picking

Order picking with Robotics is the latest concept in picking technology, which is supporting many distribution centers and fulfillment centers with flexibility, scalability and reduced reliance on temporary labour pools

  • Pros

  • Rack free solution

     

    High density storage (no aisle)

     

    Highly flexible

  • Cons

  • Product must fit in tote with no over hang

AGV Shuttle System

Order picking AGVs is the latest concept in picking technology, which is supporting many distribution centers and fulfillment centers with flexibility, scalability and reduced reliance on temporary labour pools

  • Pros

  • Greater accuracy

     

    Low training time

     

    Picker accountability

     

    Works best in zone picking

  • Cons

  • Requires lights at all locations

     

    Integration can take much longer than the other man to goods solutions

     

    Much more rigid function than other system, in terms of the pick process

     

    Still might need to incorporate extra error proofing, such as additional barcode scanning

     

    With a high SKU population this solution become very costly

Carousel Storage Picking

Carousels are a high performance order picking technology option, as long as they are matched with the appropriate operations needs and applications.

  • Pros

  • No travel time

     

    High density storage

     

    Can accommodate a high SKU variety in a small foot print

  • Cons

  • Replenishment must be planned during downtime or it will slow the picking operation

     

    Important to analyse SKU data, so bottle necks are not created in the system

Fully Automated

A fully automated system will pick full orders ready for dispatch. They tend to be highly specialised for a case with limited flexibility, but can help warehouses maximise large labour costs and allow for much higher pick rates.

Automated Dispensing Systems
  • Pros

  • Extremely high volume >200k picks per day

  • Cons

  • Limited product range suited for this system of system

     

    Very large capital investment required

Find out more about how you can create digital pick lists to locate everything in the warehouse fast, pinpoint exact item locations and complete lightning-fast paperless stock takes with our recommended comprehensive Warehouse Management Software, imio-WMS.

Call us today on:

01925 742888

Email on:

info@conveyornetworks.co.uk