Inventory picking is an important element of warehouse operations. When designed well, it will allow operators to make the entire order preparation cycle efficient.

The efficiency of picking procedures directly affects the speed of order fulfillment.

This is an operational process characterized by high-intensity work that is fundamental for many warehouses. This work can be automated or manually done. In many cases, there is some level of semi-automation. This process represents a significant cost for many companies, as it is the operation that employs the most personnel, space, and means.

 5 ways to improve the picking procedure

1. Choose the ideal storage solution for picking

Modern warehouse logistics can count on a wide range of possibilities to improve picking. Traditional storage methods are complemented by automatic storage solutions for pallets, crates, or containers that allow you to improve picking processes. Examples are gravity shelving that implements a FIFO strategy and push-back pallet shelving that works well for the LIFO method. Choosing the best storage solution helps optimize inventory picking procedures and improves the safety of stored goods.

2. Reduce distances in stock

When planning the put-away locations or bins of goods, you must organize the families and subfamilies of items to facilitate the work of the picking operator. Locate commonly bundled SKUs together to reduce movement in the warehouse. Always take into account the volume of orders when distributing items on the shelves. This means keeping the most popular products near the area where they will be processed or redressed. Products with less demand should be allocated in areas further away from the staging area. To optimize distances it is necessary to check shipment forecasts in advance. Good warehouse management software can do this efficiently.

3. Invest operator training

Picking operators must be able to process an order in as few administrative and physical steps as possible.

It is essential to avoid multiple revisions or re-packaging of the product. Reduce unnecessary steps and save time in the pick-up and packaging phase.

4. Leverage picking technologies

Modern warehouses have evolved and achieved smooth integration between traditional storage systems and digital architectures. Warehouses are today able to create a perfect synergy between software, shelving, and logistics staff. In order to improve the picking procedure, it is recommended that operators take advantage of the potential of warehouse management software (WMS) to manage and refine the selection and picking activities.

The benefits of such technologies are only available when carefully implemented. Very rarely is a warehouse able to find a purely off the shelve solution that works without any customization whatsoever.

5. Evaluate different withdrawal methods

To reduce the time per second, it is recommended that you evaluate which withdrawal method to utilize in your warehouse. This is an essential step to optimize picking procedures. Two common picking methods are:

  • Pick per item: The operator processes one order at a time sequentially. This is the most traditional method of picking, however, it can be slow.
  • Picking groups of articles (picking in waves): This is a method that can be achieved only after integrating with WMS software. The operator in this case receives and processes multiple orders at the same time. This method allows you to measure productivity, determine the amount of workforce you need, and get feedback on performance.
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