November 4, 2023

For anyone delving into warehousing, understanding the various order-picking methods is essential. It’s the heartbeat of logistics, dictating how items are selected and prepared for shipment. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just getting started, a refresher on these techniques can optimize efficiency and accuracy in your operations.

Single Order Picking

In warehousing, this method involves selecting individual machinery one at a time from their storage locations. It’s most commonly used for items that are large, heavy, or valuable, making it more practical to pick and pack them individually.

Bulk Picking

In this approach, workers pick large quantities of the same product at once. For machinery storage, this might involve gathering similar components or parts, which can streamline the process by reducing the need for multiple trips to the same storage area.

Wave Picking

In this order-picking method, orders are grouped into waves, and pickers work together to complete all the orders within a wave. This method allows warehouses to efficiently handle peak order times by allocating resources as needed. It’s like having a dynamic workforce that can adapt to changing order volumes on the fly.

Pick and Pass

Pick-and-pass method can be quite effective. This approach breaks down the order-picking process into stages. Workers or teams focus on different components of the machinery, passing the order along until it’s fully assembled and ready for shipment. This method aligns with the unique challenges of machinery storage, where components might be bulky and require special handling.

Cluster Picking

This approach involves grouping similar items together in clusters, making it easier for pickers to locate and pick multiple items at once. It minimizes the need for extensive travel within the warehouse, saving time and effort.

Pick to Light (PTL)

Pick to Light (PTL) uses visual cues to guide workers to the location of items. Lights or indicators “light up” to signal which items to pick. PTL is known for its accuracy and efficiency and is particularly suitable for warehouses with a diverse range of products.

Hybrid Methods

In many machinery storage facilities, a combination of these methods might be the most practical solution. For instance, you might use single-order picking for larger components and bulk picking for smaller equipment. The key is to find a balance that maximizes efficiency while accommodating the unique characteristics of your machinery storage setup.

Making the Right Choice

When determining the best order-picking method for a warehouse, several factors come into play:

  • Volume of Orders: High-volume operations might benefit from wave picking or automated systems, while smaller operations might find piece or batch picking more appropriate.
  • Variety of SKUs: Warehouses with a large number of SKUs might face challenges with automated systems and could lean more towards zone or wave picking.
  • Available Technology: The availability and willingness to invest in technology can determine if methods like automated picking or pick to light are viable options.
  • Workforce Expertise: The experience and training of the workforce play a role. Simpler methods might be apt for a less experienced team, while seasoned workers can handle more complex systems.

Understanding the various order picking methods is a stepping stone to optimizing warehousing operations. As customer demands shift and technology evolves, being flexible and open to adopting different techniques can be the key to staying competitive and efficient. Whatever the size or nature of your warehouse, there’s a method out there tailored to your needs.