Order picker scanning an item

Five ways to optimize your order fulfillment processes

September 5, 2018

If you want your customers to be fully-satisfied, your business must have a solid handle on all the steps in the order fulfillment process. Beyond picking -i.e. retrieving items-, pick operators must be trained so the whole process is optimized: from picking to packaging.

Here are five guidelines to optimize your in-warehouse order fulfillment process:

1) Prepare «one touch» orders

Train your pickers so they don’t need to repackage an order or revise the shipping data over again. It is vital to reduce unnecessary steps in the order picking process so you save time, whenever possible, at any point between picking the items to packing them.

2) Reduce in-warehouse distances

Firstly, it is essential to store all goods correctly. Organize item families and sub-families in the best possible way so that order pickers aren’t out searching for items for hours on end.

Also, take the volume of orders into account. Place higher demand orders close to the order prep areas and slow movers, further back. To do so, it is crucial that you stick to your plan.

3) Use technology to pick orders

We recommend you use a warehouse management system (WMS) that will let you organize and foolproof all steps in the picking process.

Additionally, there are different automated picking solutions you can consider:

  • Voice picking devices

The picker receives voice instructions through some headphones directing them to pick items.

  • Pick-to-light devices

LED lights show the human order picker the items and amounts that must be taken.

4) Assess different picking types

Since picking is often a time-wasting step, it is smart to consider all picking methods used in the sector to optimize your picking process:

  • Item picking:

The worker fulfills orders one after another in the order they arrive.

  • Pick groups of items (wave picking):

The worker fulfills various orders at once.

  • Zone picking:

The operator fulfills various orders at once in the same warehouse area.

5) Choose a pick-friendly storage solution

Beyond the “classic” storage solutions, currently, there are many automated storage solutions for pallets or boxes and drawers to streamline your order picking: picking shelves, flow racks (FIFO), push-back pallet racks, AS/RS stacker cranes, conveyors, etc.

As shown in the article AS/RS vs. traditional warehouses, it is possible to automate all or part of your warehouse.Of course, choosing the most suitable storage solution also means ensuring the safety of the goods during their time in storage.

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