How to Make the Order Picking Process More Cost-Effective

Used Order Pickers

The choices you make when it comes to order picking methods and solutions within your warehouse are imperative as it can have a significant impact on your supply chain. If you choose the right strategies for your warehouse, your business and your employees, then you’ll soon experience major improvements, including:

  • Reduced labour costs
  • Enhanced customer services and experiences
  • Ensuring you’re using your warehouse space to its full potential

If the aforementioned sounds good to you, then there are a few order picking processes, strategies and solutions that’ll be able to improve productivity and efficiency throughout your warehouse and all for a reasonable cost.

Order picking requires, often, a high amount of physical labour, meaning that, if done by a human, it can make the overall process a lot slower as well as exposing it to other problems such as unproductivity and even human error. This can, as a result, slow down the entire supply chain.

Do your best to maintain product slotting

The order picking process can be extremely complex, despite popular opinion. Pulling items from the warehouse to fulfil a customer’s order can take longer than expected, especially if your order picking processes and methods are inefficient, outdated or even completely absent. If this is the case, then looking at product slotting maintenance would be a good place to start.

Product slotting can degrade heavily over time, especially if left completely untouched. SKUs can be changed, added or even deleted as and when needed. However, warehouse workers can change the way in which they operate.

This can be done in a number of different ways, even down to employees leaving things in convenient places in order to save time during a rush or periodic increases in demand. However, when they do this, they might not be considering the long-term consequences associated with a disorganised, somewhat messy warehouse.

Assuming your employees are doing things the right way, which is possible with the correct amount of training and awareness, then they’ll be less inclined to take potentially damaging shortcuts and instead do things the right way to ensure accurate, fast and efficient order picking processes.

Cluster & batch your order picking

This essentially, allows your warehouse employees to scan, as the name would suggest, a batch of cartons whilst simultaneously walking to each specific location. This way, when a worker conducts order picking from one location, they’ll be able to scan the exact number of items needed for all of the cartons at once.

This then mitigates the need to scan each pack individually, thus saving time and money. You’ll also notice a rapid improvement in overall productivity and efficiency and all without the need to hire additional staff members.

Use a variety of storage solutions & strategies

The way in which you maximise space and storage throughout your warehouse can have a positive effect on the order picking processes and strategies you choose. By using a variety of different storage solutions throughout your warehouse, you’ll experience:

  • Improved storage intensity
  • A reduction in the amount of accidents that occur
  • Product damage prevention
  • A reduced amount of congestion
  • Quicker item retrieval times

You should take the time to review your storage facilities and capabilities, including looking for ways in which to maximise the space you have on offer. Forklift hire would also be a great way to save space as, when you’re finished using the machine, it’ll be taken away again.

Mezzanine floors and additional warehouse racking are also expert solutions, together with VNA forklifts and multi-directional forklifts. Those vehicles are able to navigate around even the narrowest of aisles and tightest of spaces, so they’ll prove to be invaluable.

You should also look to reorganise your storage, ensuring your workers are able to get their hands on inventory as quickly and as safely as possible. Place items that are in high-demand at eye level or where the use of a machine isn’t necessary. Make sure you also stock rotate, ensuring perishable items are never left at the back of a shelf to expire. Not only will this cost you money, but it’ll also pose a risk to your customers.

Choose different order picking types

There are three different order picking types for warehouse owners to choose from, including:

  • Zone picking – where each picker is assigned to a certain area or ‘zone’ in the warehouse and will only pick orders from that specific zone
  • Batch picking – where a picker is assigned to a certain area and will pick multiple items at once, therefore helping to keep the trips to each location down to an absolute minimum
  • Wave picking – zone or batch picking where are zones are picked at the same time but then items are sorted and packaged into your customers’ orders and shipped out

Refurbished Forklifts are on hand to provide customers throughout the UK with high-quality used warehouse equipment, including second-hand electric, LPG and diesel forklifts. If you would like further information about how our expert team can help you today, get in touch with us at a time to suit you – we’re always happy to hear from you.

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