Lets talk about Picking

With the picking process costing up to 40% of the total cost of running your warehouse it’s worth your attention

Order picking, bulk pick, wave pick, zone pick, pick to light, pick to cartons, pick to tote, pick to trolley and many more.

Goods to person, person to goods.

If you don’t know where to start, you’re not alone – for many growing businesses where to start can be a daunting prospect, not to mention replenishment.  Yet with the picking process costing up to 40% of the total cost of running your warehouse it’s worth your attention!

What picking apparatus do I need?

The answer to the question of what sort of picking apparatus is right for me is often not so straightforward.

Configurations such as the physical size of your stock keeping units (SKUs), the nature of the unit of fragile, irregular shape, date sensitive foodstuffs or potentially dangerous/flammable goods are to be considered and maybe managed by your warehouse management system (WMS).

Then what about your range or number of product lines, your warehouse layout and size?

These and other factors contribute to the picking process costing up to 40% of the total cost of running your warehouse.

Getting started

If you want to consider optimising all of this you might want to start simple and progressively improve, you might want to consider your software systems to ensure you have a joined-up approach.

If you have a clear runway to increased sales and you’re considering automation now or in future you’d be better getting your systems aligned, so that you get it right first time.

The physical layer

Automation opportunities can be more limited with picking than in some areas of the warehouse, however physical equipment such as robots for tasks like transporting goods or even cobots that work alongside human pickers can really speed up the picking process.  Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) automate the storage and retrieval of products, and significantly improve the speed and accuracy of picking tasks.

Unifying processes

There’s also process improvement to consider; systems such as barcode scanning, pick to light systems and voice picking all reduce errors and speed up processes by guiding pickers to the correct locations, speeding up the scan process and updating central systems such as the WMS.

Digital and smart technology

Does your WMS offer real time visibility into your warehouse and picking operations?  What does it rely on to do this and is it getting what it needs?

For example, consider how you’re getting your pick data out of your systems and to the pick face, whether that be human or machine. Consider then how you report back to the pick status, it’s much better if you can advise in real time.

At this level you can create a smart picking process, and the collection and analysis of data is central to this.  You can use your data to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies and areas for improvement and then make data-driven decisions for optimisation.

Pick optimisation software is one such example, it focuses on one of the costliest elements of the pick process – walking, which can be up to 70% of the pick cost due to the time it takes.

Pick optimisation relies on data and can encompass many factors from simply running a smart algorithm to simplify the pick path (RACKNAV), to batching of orders, to the use of spatial coherence and volumetric data all to reduce the pick effort by up to 50% saving up to 25% of the total real cost of your pick function.

Breathe Technologies offer Pick Optimisation as part of their Orquestr8 software platform and the AI-driven Pick Optimisation module can reduce pick effort by up to 50% with its ability to:

  • Reduce the time spent walking between pick faces
  • Improve user interaction at pick locations, reducing the time required to scan and log a pick
  • Minimize training time for new users with its simple processes and clear user interface
  • Seamlessly integrate with picking automation such as AMRs and your warehouse IT systems

If all your automation and software systems are well-integrated you’ll see a noticeable improvement in efficiency and productivity.  By connecting your WMS, inventory management software, barcode scanners, and other tools to work seamlessly together it’s much easier to manage your overall growth, scaling as you need to across all functions not just picking!

Breathe Technologies provide smart warehouse technology unifying physical and digital warehouse automation.  At a time of unpredictable economic conditions and labour supply, coupled with increasing consumer and marketplace demands; Breathe Technologies add manageability, clarity and agility to warehouse operations.

Contact us for an informal discussion as to how we can optimise your picking function.