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, yet with the picking process costing up to 40% of the total cost of running a warehouse it’s worth attention and there are a range of things to consider.

Getting started

Every warehouse is different and optimisation of any function needs thought.  Often the best start point is to understand how all the different systems need to align in order to support sudden increases at peak as well as steadier, planned growth and change.

Picking strategies

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 are well established.  Picking via wearables such as Proglove also add another option in reducing errors and speeding 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?

Consider how to get pick data out of host systems and to the pick face, whether that’s human or machine. Also consider how to report back to the pick status, it’s much better if it happens in real time.

At this level a smart picking process can be created, and the collection and analysis of data is central to this.  Use 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 is data driven, analysing the interconnected components and multiple objectives of a busy warehouse.  The platforms that use the problem-solving capability of AI deliver immediate cost savings but also set the scene for fast growth and revenue generation.  For example, the pick operation has a major influence on whether your marketplace orders will make it to packing in time for collection cut off, and the process optimisation and visibility provided by pick optimisation software introduces the ability to accurately forecast and meet operational deadlines.

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 automation and software systems are well-integrated there’s a noticeable improvement in efficiency and productivity and it’s a good step between fully automating the pick operation with large scale automated AS/RS or robotic solutions. It supports planned growth by optimising current processes e.g. improving efficiency of routing and batching giving up to 50% savings on the current operation with subscription based investment replacing large scale capital outlay.

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.