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Especially in these days of ecommerce and on-demand order fulfillment, having a strong picking process can really make or break your business when demand for your items is high. Odds are you’ve become familiar with this process over your years in the warehousing business, but as the needs of business change there’s always a chance that your picking processes could stand to be updated and revised. Here’s five things to look out for if you feel like your picking speed or accuracy needs to be improved, and how you can make those improvements:


Organize Your Items: A big part of many picking speed issues is the illogical organization of items and SKUs. Mixing multiple SKUs in the same location will reduce productivity and cause confusion among the workers who need to locate your items for shipment. Set discrete pick locations for each individual SKU, and make sure your employees are aware of these item locations whenever they get revised or relocated.


Reduce Travel Time: Travel time and locating items tend to be the biggest time sinks in warehousing, and should be one of your first areas to review and revise. Review the placement of your industrial shelving to make sure everything is easily accessible to your workers and laid out in a way that makes sense, and consider something like gravity flow racks or conveyor belts to help address the issue of travel time for both your items and your workers.


Institute Batch Picking Processes: This might not be a viable strategy depending on your warehouse size and number of workers, but if you’ve got the room and labor to spare you may want to look into a batch picking system. Batch picking consists of gathering the items for several different orders at once and delivering them to the shipping department for preparation in one large batch to reduce the amount of different trips that your workers have to make. If you have a wide enough inventory and enough workers to space, this could be a further step in reducing travel time and assisting with order accuracy by ensuring different sets of eyes are on each order.


Work To Improve Product Availability: One of the more common holdups for order fulfillment is needing to wait on an out-of-stock or backordered item to arrive. If you can design your replenishment system so that additional items are ordered before they’re completely out of stock it will go a long way towards making sure your orders are fulfilled as fast and as correctly as possible. Otherwise, try to set up your pick lists so that they only contain items known to be in stock so that the workers can move on to fulfilling orders that are currently available in inventory.


Always Analyze Your Productivity: The process of improving picking procedures is never-ending, and a good way to monitor your work and see where improvements can be made is to constantly review your picking and order accuracy statistics. Track your average time to pack an order, any common employee complaints that hinder picking and item retrieval, and the number of items picked on each order to ensure that your workers are performing to their full potential and that your new processes are working appropriately.

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