The picking system that used in your company will affect how much money is made, because it has a dramatic impact on how quickly employees can get things done. You need to have a system that is fast and efficient, so that there are no mistakes and so that the orders can be picked from the shelves as quickly as possible. There is a human element to this, of course; if employees make mistakes, even the ideal system will not keep them from wasting time. However, the better the system is, the faster it will typically work.
There are several ways to make order picking faster and improve operation efficiency. As more and more companies are looking to lean storage for cost-cutting strategies, the speed, accuracy and efficiency of warehouses and retail distribution centers are scrutinized. Depending on the number of items order pickers have to work with and how often they are used, adjusting workstations, upgrading shelf tracks and improving ergonomics are simple and cost-effective management choices.
Efficiency slows every time an order picker is stopped from completing a ticket. Whether the person stops to wait for a reload of inventory or because the conveyor is broken or backed up, a work stoppage can be costly. Using shelves that can be reloaded from the back without interrupting or stopping workflow are practical and cost effective. Another way to prevent interruptions is to prevent mechanical breakdowns by using racks and conveyors with sturdy rollers. Shelf racks and shelf tracks made of metal parts are less likely to break down and require replacement than plastic wheels.
Order picking is more efficient when the items are chosen quickly and correctly. The items should be moved on to the next area as soon as they are ready. One way to improve order picking efficiency is to shorten the reach to the product and placement of the pick into the box or cart for the next step. Using dynamic storage systems allow product to shift forward toward the picker for a shorter reach as the previous item is removed and packed.
Using ergonomically correct workstations allows the order picker to see the product clearly without guessing or hesitating. This makes it faster and easier to pick. Tilted shelves also make the product more accessible. When workers use ergonomically correct workstations, they are also more comfortable. Their arms, neck and shoulders do not tire as quickly, so they do not slow down.
When items are readily available to fill an order, the order is filled faster. For set-ups with thousands of products in one warehouse that are not ordered frequently, it is more difficult to find a quick means for picking. Keeping shelves closer together helps reduce the amount of time it takes to find a specific product. The most commonly ordered product should be the most accessible to prevent extra legwork and time spent in locating seldom-ordered items. When possible, eliminating the hunting and walking process eliminates wasted time, space and energy.