How to choose an optimal picking system for a warehouse

With the growth of eCommerce and online shopping, massive warehouses are used as distribution centres, sending thousands of parcels every day. When businesses have all of their stock in one distribution centre, it makes for easy access and quick packing. However, finding each item can be difficult, especially if the warehouse is considerably big. Choosing a suitable picking system is essential to ensure the business meets demand and picks items efficiently. 

A warehouse will likely be using an inventory scanner system to find and pick items; if not, they really should be. This makes it easier to find items more efficiently and pick them for orders. This technology is also a great way to manage stock levels and monitor efficiency using analytics tools. When using an inventory scanner system, there are a few ways items can be picked. 

Single orders

Perhaps the most basic method of picking items is to pick them each individually. This means one person would identify where a product was being kept and pick it for an order. Once that order has been picked and put into the packing station, another order will go and be picked. This is a common method in smaller warehouses, perhaps for SMEs. However, this would not be an ideal picking method for a larger business with high demand. It’s a slower process compared to others, and when a business has a significant number of orders to complete in a day, then something faster and more efficient needs to be put into place. 

Batch picking

Batch picking is when a picker is assigned a few items to collect at a time. The number of items will depend on where they’re placed in the warehouse and their size. This method is a lot more efficient than single picking orders as a few can be picked off and taken to the packing station at once. Not only does this mean fewer trips for the picker, but whoever is packing doesn’t have to wait for their next time to arrive either. It’s almost like a conveyor belt of products. This is ideal for larger businesses that have a lot of orders to fulfil. Plus, if using the barcode inventory system, items will be easy to find, making the batch picking easier. 

Zone packing

Zone packing is ideal for supersized warehouses that have multiple pickers. Essentially, the warehouse is split into different zones, and pickers will only pick from their zones. It’s very similar to batch picking, except a picker doesn’t have to walk through the whole warehouse picking items. A barcode system can create a route for a picker to follow in a zone, making the most efficient use out of time and ensuring pickers aren’t going to pick the same items. This is usually the most popular method of picking items. However, it can sometimes take a little longer to pack orders if items from different zones are needed for the same order. Other than that, this picking system is pretty good and is probably the most efficient method for a large-scale warehouse.  

One other thing that needs to be considered is the packing of the items that have been picked. Designated packing areas are ideal in warehouses as it stops items getting muddled with other stock. Plus, it also makes it easier for packers as they have all of the resources, like boxes, tape and packing peanuts, in one place. Shipping labels can also be printed at this station, ensuring the right labels get put onto the right parcels, rather than printing them elsewhere and them potentially getting mixed up. 

Which picking system do you think works best?

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