How To Improve Order Picking Productivity In Your Warehouse

How To Improve Order Picking Productivity In Your Warehouse

As any warehouse manager knows, order picking processes in a warehouse can significantly help or hinder productivity and profits. In fact, studies show that order picking accounts for up to 50% or all warehouse labour costs. This means that improving order picking productivity in your warehouse can significantly reduce labour costs while improving productivity, resulting in greater profit margins.

Additionally, optimised order picking processes can also improve customer satisfaction by keeping your warehouse on track for timely order fulfilment and reducing picking errors that may result in customers receiving the wrong products or product quantities.

There are a number of things that can be done to improve order picking productivity, from choosing the right order picking method to optimising the layout and storage capacity of your warehouse.

3 Simple Ways To Improve Order Picking Productivity

How To Improve Order Picking Productivity In Your Warehouse

1) Choosing The Right Order Picking Method

There are a number of different order picking methods that can be used to improve the productivity of your warehouse. However, there is no one method that is best as choosing the right order picking method for your warehouse depends on your inventory, number of orders, and warehouse layout.

Discrete Order Picking

The simplest method of picking is discrete order picking, where the picker essentially takes the list of items for a single order and walks through the warehouse individually picking each item on the list. The benefit of discrete order picking is that it is a relatively accurate method that can be carried out as soon as your warehouse begins trading, without time consuming setup or start up costs.

This picking method is only effective for relatively small warehouses that are kept well organised to ensure that pickers are not having to search through untidy shelves to find each product on their list. Unfortunately, the discrete order picking method is not scalable and is much less efficient when implemented in larger warehouses with more SKUs and higher product turnover.

For larger or growing warehouses there are more efficient picking processes that will reduce travel time and increase productivity to optimise your warehouse picking.

Zone Picking

As the name suggests, zone picking refers to the picking method where each picked is given a designated zone. This means that the picker is responsible for picking all items within their zone. In practise, the order picker will pick all of the items from an order that are located within their zone. Once complete, the items will be handed over to the next picker who will pick all of the items needed for the order from their designated zone, and so on until the order is complete, ready for packaging and shipping.

This order picking method can increase productivity as pickers will not need to be walking back and forth across the warehouse searching for each item. Additionally, travel time is reduced as pickers will only need to pick within their zone. As each picker is designated a zone, zone picking will also ensure that each picker is familiar with the products and locations within their zone for faster picking, which can be particularly useful in larger warehouses.

Batch Picking

In batch picking, the picker will be picking multiple orders at once. This can be helpful when many orders require the same SKUs, as the picker can pick enough of the SKU needed to fulfill each of the orders they are picking, rather than having to return to pick from the same location with each new order. Once all of the batches of products have been picked for the active orders they can then be sorted into individual orders to be packed and shipped.

Batch picking is an efficient way of picking multiple orders at once that can save time and increase productivity by reducing travel time and preventing back tracking. An order management system can make batch picking efficient by organising orders into groups to make picking most efficient, for example, grouping together orders with made up of similar products to create an efficient picking sequence.

2) Optimising Warehouse Layout

Optimising Warehouse Layout

Once you have chosen the best order picking method for your warehouse, you will need to optimise your warehouse layout to reduce travel time and ensure that your warehouse remains organised for maximum productivity.

A warehouse that is disorganised and overcrowded can seriously hinder order picking productivity. Conversely, having racks and products spread unnecessarily far apart can increase travel times, reducing picking productivity. For this reason, optimising the layout of your warehouse to complement your picking processes with a maximum use of space is essential for effective order picking.

When determining spacing and layout of your racking and shelving systems, ensure that there is enough room for your manual handling equipment to safely navigate through the aisles to load and unload product as this will reduce the risk of accidents and collisions. However, it is also important not to create oversized aisles that are unnecessarily large as this will encroach on the storage capacity of your warehouse without providing any real benefit.

Design your warehouse layout with a focus on product placement, ensuring that high turnover products are optimally positioned near the packing/shipment area and stored on shelving between the knees and shoulders of the picker for minimal picking effort to increase picking speed. Additionally, products that are often ordered together should be stored together to maximise efficiency.

Designing the ideal warehouse layout for your inventory, processes, and storage system can be a daunting task. Macrack have been designing and installing quality pallet racking and shelving systems in Australia for over 35 years. When it comes to creating an optimised warehouse layout where storage is maximised, we’re the experts. Call us today on 1800 048 821 for more information about our customised warehouse storage solutions and ask about our free warehouse design offer.

3) Maximising Storage Capacity

longspan shelving and mezzanine floor

Finally, maximising the storage capacity of your warehouse with customised pallet racking and shelving systems is essential for efficient order picking. Taking the time to select the right type of storage system for your warehouse will not only maximise storage capacity, it can also improve product identification for optimised picking.

Using the wrong type of storage system for your inventory and space can negatively impact picking productivity. Your warehouse storage system should be specifically designed for your inventory and processes to ensure that you are getting the best use out of your available space. Quality storage systems will also be designed to make use of the vertical space in your warehouse to maximise storage capacity, freeing up floor space to streamline your warehouse processes.

Macrack is Australia’s leading supplier of quality racking and warehouse storage systems. We offer a range of high accessibility or high density storage systems to suit your needs, as well as specialised storage systems such as tyre racks, drum racks, carpet racks, cable racks and more. Each racking system we manufacture comes with a lifetime guarantee, so you can rest assured that Macrack storage systems are built to last. Talk to one of our racking specialists today on 1800 048 821 for a free quote and warehouse design.