Picking, packing and returns are an essential aspect of a distribution facility. Unfortunately, the processes can also take up 60-80% of all labor costs. Not only that, but it is believed 60% of an average picker’s time is spent walking – and not picking or packing.
It is therefore essential to look for ways to improve the picking process to reduce your labor costs, improve productivity and increase customer satisfaction.
Product slotting is simply the best location for a product within the warehouse or distribution facility, which can improve material handling efficiency. It essentially determines the best placement for an item based on a range of factors. For example, the highest-selling products should be located closer to an order fulfilment station. As a result, it will save a picker a considerable amount of time and will improve the customer experience.
Focus on Replenishment
In addition to improving how an item is picked, it is also essential to focus on how a product is replenished. For example, you could decrease labor for replenishment by simply sizing the pick face location against a standard unit of measure, such as a pallet or case.
Bring a Product to the Picker
Many warehouses and distribution facilities make the big mistake of bringing the picker to the product, when they should be striving to bring the product to the picker. For instance, fluent conveyors can quickly and easily bring the product to a picker, which can improve distribution speed whilst reducing labor costs. It is therefore a money-saving investment.
Utilize High-Density Storage
The likes of pallet flow racks and carton flow racks also have the potential to transform your operation. The high-density storage can reduce the amount of walking a picker will need to perform to pick a product, as it is presented to the picker. It is therefore an effective way to eliminate picking steps and streamline your business.
Fully Stock Workstations with Supplies
Packers who are forced to make a run for cartons or tape can easily make some big mistakes, which could cost your business time and money. Avoid mistakes and increase productivity levels by ensuring supplies are easily accessible for both pickers and packers. You can do so by amply stocking their workstations, so they will never have to leave to look for extra supplies. Assign the responsibility to a trusted employee, who will be required to ensure all packing stations are continually stocked.
The above steps are often not difficult to introduce, and do not necessarily require a significant level of automation – and some processes could be introduced as soon as today. The above improvements can considerably improve your warehouse or distribution facility for the better, as it can improve picking efficiency, reduce overheads, whilst increasing productivity and employee morale.
Do you have any tried and tested methods for improving the picking process? We would love to read your thoughts. Please feel free to write a comment below.