How to reduce your warehouse pick times?
When business is booming and sales are growing, your company may be adding additional warehouse staff to deal with the increased volume of orders. This increase in staff increases costs, which reduces the profits from additional sales. The question you must ask is can you have more output with the existing staff?
Automation in the form of conveyors or other mechanisms is a potential solution, but it may not be cost justifiable or feasible for many warehouse operations. It may be that you only need to make current staff more efficient in order to get more output.
If you consider ‘Picking’ as an example, there are ways to increase throughput without putting in a substantial investment. If you pick more orders per day, you create the capacity to do more with what we have. Then you can avoid having to meet increased demand with increased headcount. Here are some of the simple and easy ideas to reduce your warehouse pick times.
Implement a Warehouse Management System (WMS)
Technology can dramatically improve pick times. Directing pickers from a hand held terminal on the most efficient route would reduce the distance traveled and time required. Some estimates put wasted time walking around to find and gather products as high as 75%. Since there are many picks per days, adding up the savings on each pick totals a large amount of time. In addition, directed picking reduces mispicks. This means the right picks in less time, solving shipping errors.
How does this work? The pick is ordered by location which ensures the picker takes the shortest route within the warehouse to pick all items from the list. Using a handheld device the picker is directed to the correct aisle and shelf location of the item they need to pick. Once they arrive, they use the handheld device to confirm they are in the right position and confirm the correct product has been picked by scanning the product. Once completed, the handheld device will give the employee the next aisle and shelf location of the next product. Products are collected in the shortest possible distance and time.
The scanning of location codes and products will also reduce the likelihood of pick errors. The cost of a mispick is about triple the cost of a correct pick. That is because it takes three processes instead of one, first the incorrect pick, second processing the return and third correcting or replacing the mistake. In addition, customer frustration and often lost business occurs. Mispicks are a common issue when not using a WMS that can easily be corrected.
Location of Products
Where and how goods are stored in a warehouse is critical to efficiency. A method using A,B,C and 1,2,3’s should be deployed. This means that the highest volumes products need to be closer to the shipping doors and lower to the ground to reduce time to pull product, which will affect a large percent of orders. In addition, skidded products verse boxed products need to be considered.
Moving skids from the floor is quickest, while removing boxes from around shoulder height it easier. Bulk storage can be further away and moved to pick zones as product is depleted. That being said, the warehouse still must have dynamic locations, not always set up to the same product.
This allows for logical putaway based on the ebb and flow of goods. A WMS is setup to know about the products and volumes to continuously select strategic locations to store goods. The data from the WMS determines the best place for products, including seasonal products or special offers. A WMS can also be used to identify products that often sell together, which can be grouped together for picking.
These steps can greatly increase the number of picks achieved per day without increasing staff. Sales go up and costs remain same, which produces higher profits. A WMS software will also do other things to improve efficiency and provide management with vital information to determine performance and make decisions.
About ProVision WMS
ProVision WMS is a versatile solution which provides the tools to manage and co-ordinate warehouse operations. It improves order fulfilment, customer service, labor output and decision-making. This software, along with complementary technologies, will save you money and pay for itself in a short period. It has the flexibility to handle diverse applications requirements and help your business grow. To learn more about ProVision WMS solutions or how we can help to achieve all your business goals, request a demonstration today.