5 Steps to Optimize Warehouse Order Picking
The process of order preparation is different from one company to another. It varies in particular according to the nature of the products, the profile of the customers, and the type and volume of orders to be processed. However, these 5 good practices can be applied by all logistics managers who wish to improve efficiency, whether in terms of lead times, costs, or quality.
Step 1: Train operators to limit unnecessary steps
To improve warehouse productivity, it is essential to train order picking operators. Thus, they will not have to repeat an operation several times in the same order and will make fewer errors. Pre-planning the process is also essential. This step makes it possible to plan picking, packing, and shipping areas as well as the picking routes for the items. It is also used to organize orders in order of priority and to store products in an optimized manner. The length and height of the pallets are to be taken into account for the storage of goods but also for transport.
Step 2: Reduce the sampling routes
When preparing one or more orders, the preparer may have to travel long distances, on foot or using handling equipment. To save time and improve efficiency, optimize picking routes and reduce the distances that separate the operator from the products. For this, it is necessary to analyze the sales and identify the products according to their rotation speed. Using the ABC method, you’ll be able to store the most popular, A-rated items on the most easily accessible shelves.
The order in which the products are picked must also be closely watched in order to avoid unnecessary round trips.
Step 3: Use management software to optimize order picking
Warehouse management software helps you to optimize order picking. Indeed, the study of several KPIs makes it possible to identify the obstacles to the efficiency of the preparation processes, such as a large number of orders delivered late or an excessively long internal cycle time. What’s more, such software makes it possible to automate a certain number of tasks, such as editing documents (picking orders, delivery notes, package tracking numbers, etc.) and improving inventory management.
Step 4: Evaluate the different picking methods
Several sampling methods are possible. Thus, the preparer can process a single order at a time (pickup by item) or several at the same time (pickup by group). He may also have to go to the product (man-to-goods) or, conversely, receive the product at his workstation (goods-to-man). This last system is the panacea for large automated warehouses and often requires substantial investment. However, more affordable direct debit systems exist, such as:
Pick-to-light: this allows to minimize the risk of error thanks to the light signals which allow seeing if the threshold of the order is high, it also helps to have a continuous replenishment from the storage area to the picking. The operator can know the current status of the orders more quickly,
Pick-to-voice: In large warehouses where inventory is high, voice picking is more efficient. It allows operators to move quickly through each stage of order preparation,
Put-to-light: this is a method that allows the operator to know in which bin he should place his item, thanks to trolleys equipped with light screens. This is also useful when several commands have to be grouped at the same time.
Step 5: Choose the right storage solution to optimize the picking phase
The layout of the warehouse is a major parameter in order picking efficiency. The signage, the width of the preparation aisles, the location of the stock, and the location of the picking, sorting, preparation, and packaging areas… are all criteria to be taken into account in the configuration of the layout of the warehouse.
Optimize order preparation to guarantee an efficient logistics strategy
To ship Amazon third party logistics goods as quickly as possible, reduce warehouse operating costs and ensure customer satisfaction, the supply chain manager must optimize the order preparation phase. Thanks to a good logistic company like Sooner Express Logistics a California 3PL provider, the implementation of good practices, and the support of management software, it is possible to improve this crucial point of the supply chain.