Review SKU Velocity Regularly
Some SKUs move faster than others. Consistently review SKU velocities and relocate SKUs that have moved from fast to slow, or vice versa. Ensure fast moving, popular SKUs are kept in an accessible and ergonomic location (end of aisle at waist height). Consider storing SKUs frequently picked together as a kit.
Store Products in Bins and Totes
Products left on open shelving are exposed to contaminants such as dirt, dust and exhaust fumes from forklifts. Using bins, dividers and totes not only keeps products clean, organized and in usable condition, but also maximizes your storage capacity. You might also consider storing inventory in an enclosed, automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) such as a Vertical Lift Module or Vertical Carousel.
Consider a Pick and Pass Strategy
Order totes travel from zone to zone for fulfillment. Each picker works to fill SKUs only in their zone, passing the order tote to the next zone when completed. Once the order has gone to the last zone, it reaches shipping and is sent out for delivery. To add to your productivity gains, pick the orders into a shipping container, so these orders can be labeled and put onto a truck once picking is complete.
Implement Batch Picking for Faster Order Fulfillment
Batch picking allows one picker to fulfill multiple orders, or a batch of orders, simultaneously, visiting each SKU location one time. This picking strategy reduces travel time to the same pick location multiple times a day, which in turn increases picking productivity.
Speed Order Fulfillment with Parallel Picking
In a parallel picking strategy, pickers are assigned to a specific zone and they are responsible for picking the SKUs in their assigned zone. Each zone picks the SKUs required from their zone simultaneously (in parallel). Once the SKUs from the zone are picked, they are sent to a consolidation area where SKUs from each zone are married up to complete the order. This strategy allows for more orders to be picked at one time, speeding up order fulfillment.
Calculate the Cost of Labor
Calculate the cost of labor to ensure a true cost balance in your operations. Are you constantly putting more bodies in your picking system? Spending too much money on worker comp claims? An investment in automated storage can reduce the amount of people you need in your picking operation, allowing you to reassign them elsewhere.
Receive Product Directly into Open Orders
Instead of receiving an order and restocking it to a storage location, receive the product against an open order waiting for the product to be received. This means, the product is never really received into the warehouse inventory just to be picked, it is received directly into an order and goes right back out the door.
Prioritize Orders with Wave Picking
Consider using wave picking to prioritize which orders are picked first and keep operations flowing smoothly. Releasing orders in waves helps manage the workload on each function (picking, order consolidation, replenishment, packing, shipping) to not overload one function creating a bottleneck.
Sequence Picking to Increase Productivity
Create a clear path to productivity with sequenced picks that reduce travel time. Sequence picking doesn’t require a picker to crisscross a picking zone or visit a storage location more than once to fill an order. Reducing this repetitive work increases productivity and eliminates unnecessary walking.
Replenish Regularly to Reduce Short Pick
Prioritize replenishment to reduce short picks and to reduce overflow in the receiving area. Instead of leaving new product at the receiving door, find times for your operation to fit replenishment in throughout the day. This will eliminate sending out orders which are short a part or two, when in fact you had those parts in your facility the entire time!
Design Your Facility with Flexibility
Flexibility means being prepared for change. Design your operations to be managed by few employees and easily increased to many employees at peak times. This will help you plan ahead for anticipated seasonal demand when you know you need it, not when it’s too late to find the labor.
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