Efficiency is the key to low logistics costs. Order picking is essential in this field. Often there is much to improve regarding the order picking process. What is the best order picking technique? In this blog the 6 main techniques are explained.
Regular Order Picking
The first (and frequently most used) technique is Regular Order Picking. This technique might seem inefficient when you will read the following techniques, but in some situations this can be still the most efficient one. Especially on huge, complex orders, this technique is being used. The order picker collects the items of one order before starting with order 2, like shown in the image below. The items are gathered in a parcel. A parcel can consist of a box or a crate, but in this case this will probably be a pallet. The next technique, Wave picking, will explain more about parcels.
Wave Picking combines multiple orders, consisting of often small products, in one batch. The advantage of this technique is that the order picker collects multiple orders at the same time. This means that the order picker has to pick only once at a location. With Wave Picking, companies could use order picking carts (like on the blogpost picture) to split the items into parcels instantly. At the location of item A, the total amount of the 2 orders(8 items) are gathered by one order picker. The order picker will split these orders in 2 parcels. At the location of item B, the total of 6 items will be collected and split as well. After checking the parcels, the orders are ready for shipping.
Traditional Batch Picking
Traditional Batch Picking can be seen as a technique where goods are moved throughout the warehouse. By collecting multiple products of different picking tickets, the location needs to be visited only once. With Traditional Batch Picking, the orders of multiple picking tickets are combined and split afterwards. This is being applied often on products which are hard to reach or orders with big amounts. When items A and B in the example below are placed on a top storage shelf, the most efficient way to pick the order to take both items to the floor first. The next step is splitting the orders back to picking tickets to make a parcel. After checking the parcel, the order is ready for shipping.
Single SKU Batch Picking
With this technique, multiple picking tickets are combined. The condition is that the orders contain 1 item (SKU), for example 8 orders with 8 shirts and 12 orders with 12 pair of jeans. The picking tickets are totalized and collected. After collecting, the only action that needs to be done is scanning the items and after checking the original picking ticket, the orders are ready for shipping.
Fulfilment Batch Picking
With Fulfilment Batch Picking, multiple equal picking tickets are combined to one total order. It often concerns big parties of equal final products, for example Christmas boxes. Most of the time, an assembly line is used to fulfill the products. The final products are the same, so only one picking ticket has to be finished (think about the weight, choosing the shipping product and the packaging). All of the picking tickets are set equal and updated. For every picking ticket there is output, like the packing slip, the label and/or a doculop.
Multiple SKU Batchpicking
With Single SKU Batch Picking, the order line only consists of 1 item (SKU). An order line in Multiple SKU Batch Picking has multiple SKU's per picking ticket, like the name suggests. The items in the order line are the same. A number of clients orders the same article, but in different amounts. This is often applied on promotional actions, where clients can order an item only once.
The best technique?
What is the best technique? That is complicated. This depends on different variables, such as the size/complexity of the product, the location and the classification of the warehouse. Regular order picking is often used because there is no proper software system for the alternative picking techniques. This leads to many mistakes when using the alternative techniques. By automating order picking techniques, the efficiency will increase. With the WICS Warehouse Management System (WMS), the 6 techniques can be assigned per picking ticket. This makes order picking more efficient while keeping control on the total process.
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