Tips to Improve Your Warehouse Picking Efficiency

Order picking is the process of pulling inventory in the warehouse to fill a customer order. "Given the centrality of the order fulfillment function, order picking and replenishment operations often represent more than 50% of total DC labor costs. As a result, if a shipper can speed-up its order picking operations it can increase volume and reduce distribution costs as a percent of sales" (Supply Chain Digest).LeanCor_062015_0130.jpg

Here are some tips to improve your warehouse picking efficiency:

Product Locations

For optimal product flow and velocity through the warehouse, shippers can slot product based on variation in customer demand. For example, an "A class" product that is fast moving and stable should be placed near the front of the warehouse for quick and easy access. Whereas, a "D class" product that's slow moving and instable should be placed in back locations.

Picking Methods

Here are some basic methods to consider when identifying your picking strategy:

  • Discrete picking: Single picker picks all items for a single order
    • Travel times can be excessive if there is a low number of picks per order.
    • Congestion in aisles can occur if there are a large number of orders being picked.
  • Zone picking: Each picker only picks the items of an order located in an assigned zone
    • This method can reduce travel time.
    • Balancing amount of work in each zone can be difficult.
  • Batch picking: Single picker picks all of the items for multiple orders
    • This method reduces travel and search time.
    • Sortation may occur during or after picking.
  • Zone-batch picking: Combination of zone and batch picking, multiple pickers each pick portions of multiple orders
    • This can require consolidation and sortation.

Picking Technologies - Consider Voice Picking

Voice picking is an effective tool for picking operations, where each operator is equipped with a mobile device or voice dedicated terminal and a headset with microphone. Benefits of voice picking include:

  • Pickers work hands free of scanners
  • Verification of quantities while on the move
  • No lag time between tasks
  • Improved picking speed
  • Improved picking accuracy
  • Easy to train new employees
  • Generally a high level of employee engagement
  • No special keys or entries to learn

Get Started with a Simple Warehouse Diagnostic


Posted by LeanCor Consulting

blog author

LeanCor Consulting is a division of LeanCor Supply Chain Group. Today’s complex supply chains require vision, strategies, and innovative techniques to create competitive performance. LeanCor Consulting is a trusted partner for advancing end to end supply chain performance through diagnostics, assessments, and full implementation. Global organizations leverage LeanCor Consulting to develop vision and strategy deployment plans for improvement in all supply chain functions. We focus on elements of speed, cost, quality, and delivery, and are able to develop innovative solutions from operational experience as a third party logistics partner.

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