Tips On How To Master Manual Order Picking & Boost Productivity

Developing a system to fulfill orders quickly and accurately will help you boost productivity and increase customer satisfaction. Ready to learn how to master order picking? Let’s review the basics and take a look at some ways to improve your facility.

What Are The Basics of Manual Order Picking?

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The basic approach to picking consists of a person manually picking items on a list. The picker has to travel to the stored item and pick it from the inventory shelving units or bins. Once they fulfill an item, they check it off and continue with the rest of the list. This can be a time-consuming process.

To reduce the time it takes for picking, create a layout for the facility that allows more efficient access to pick items.

  • Position all the items based on the frequency of use. You want the most picked items in an easy-to-access location. For instance, it might be smart to place faster-moving items near the door. Studies show that 50 – 70 % of the picking cycle time consists of travel time to the item.
  • When placing items on pick conveyor systems, you want to optimize height between knee and shoulder zone. This reduces the amount of effort exerted by people, and enhances the speed it takes them to place or package the item. When retrieving items at this height, you want to ensure all the high-demand items are within that zone.
  • Organization and layout optimization of the facility matters a great deal. Generally, you want to keep items that are in the same family near one another. For instance, you want to keep kits and items commonly sold together near one another.
  • Consider the size and weight of items during fulfillment. Usually heavy items that are picked last end up on top, which could end up damaging the lighter items.
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Top 2 Manual Order Picking Methods

Another way to boost productivity is by exploring various picking methods. Again, if you’re using the most basic manual method, the picker is picking one order at a time, line by line. While this method is simple to understand and allows you to easily track accuracy, it requires a lot of travel time compared to other methods.

  • Batch Picking: Consider utilizing the batch picked method. Rather than going line-by-line to complete one order, the picker puts together a batch of orders at the same time, focusing on fulfilling one SKU at a time. This improves efficiency and productivity, because when the picker gathers multiple orders that have similar items at the same time, they reduce their travel time.
  • Zoned Picking: It can also be helpful to have pickers who are assigned to their own “zone.” Once the items on the list are gathered from their zone, they pass it to the next zone, and so forth. This further reduces travel time.

Speed Up With Picking Technology

Finally, a way to boost productivity is by incorporating picking technology like barcode scanning, radio frequency directed picking, and wearable scanners.

  • You may try adding multiple language voice-directed picking, pick and place robots, and parts to pickers. The best one for you depends on various factors. You want to figure out where you have deficits and how technology can correct them.
  • In some cases, it’s best to switch to an automated system. Oftentimes issues within your facility are due to the slowness of manual labor. Through an automated system, you increase efficiency while reducing labor.

Learning how to master manual order fulfilment can be a long, demanding process. Thankfully, W.W. Cannon understands the challenges distribution centers face and we’re eager to help.

To learn more about the services we offer and how we can help optimize your order fulfilment system, give us a call today at 800-442-3061 or fill out our quote for a fast response.

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