Order Picking Systems

Order picking is how warehouse and distribution center workers fulfill orders. “Order picking systems help reduce errors in picking by telling the worker what to pick and then confirming what was picked,” noted Brian C. Neuwirth of MHI member UNEX Manufacturing, Inc. “As order picking is the most labor intensive process in a warehouse, whatever can be done to speed picking improves productivity.”

Order picking systems include inventory holding storage, pick instructions and places to put the picked items. To determine the best solutions, begin by conducting an in-depth analysis of your space, SKUs and flow.

Case and each (split case) picking

Customers want products in either full-case or less-than-full-case quantities. “In case picking, product is picked in full-case or carton quantities from varied storage mediums,” Neuwirth explained. The majority of faster movers are picked from pallet positions. Medium to slow moving products are picked from carton flow racks. Slow moving products are picked from shelving. When workers pick product, it may go to a pallet, tote, cart or conveyor. As the picker travels the aisles selecting product, orders are grouped and sequenced for shipping.

In each picking, also known as split case picking, products are sold in less-than-full-case quantities. Order pickers individually select the product from a master case or carton. For most operations, each picking represents a smaller percentage of picks, although in direct-to-consumer operations, the majority of orders are each picked. “Each picks use carton flow or shelving systems,” said Neuwirth. Design these systems to present the product to the order picker so the worker can select an individual piece without interference. After picking, products are placed into totes or master cartons and transported via conveyors or carts to the next stage of the order fulfillment process.

By Jean Feingold

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