Groupe GCL
Conseil logistique & supply chain

Warehouse Order Picking: a few basic steps

Warehouse Order Picking: a few basic steps

Warehouse Order Picking: a few basic steps


To improve productivity, businesses concentrate their efforts on optimizing picking process.It’s a smart move on their behalf. Would you like to know why?

A costly activity. Being one of the last operations on the supply chain, the product cost is, indeed, at this stage, very high;

A hard to manage activity. New managing techniques including just-on-time, production cycles and market reaction time reduction, make product picking more and more complex. How to coordinate operations so that products stay in storage as shortly as possible? What is the best way to store products on shelves? How to effectively use available resources? Many questions need to be answered;

An activity that can improve the quality of customer service. Good product managing helps reduce the number of products damaged, order preparation time, etc. There are many ways to improve picking without necessarily investing in additional work force or equipment. Here are a few:

  • Encourage your customers to order in larger quantities. Time necessary for counting and packaging the products is then minimized. This important principle is harder and harder to apply: “e-commerce” and low inventory levels have brought customers to order in smaller quantities;
  • Bring storing localization at picking station. This system may be costly but easily justifiable by greatly reducing traveling time which represents 50% of picking time;
  • Combine tasks to maximize time;
  • Perform batch picking. This method enables you to reduce traveling time. Three methods exist: by order, by group and by zone;
  • Configure picking areas considering product velocity. A minority of products generates a majority of pickings. These products should be placed near the packing and shipping zone to minimize traveling;
  • Place products according to demand. At this stage, various products exist to facilitate your business operations. Amongst others, pallets, flow racks, horizontal carousel and A-Frames;
  • Dispatch product picking in different zones to eliminate traffic jams and waiting time;
  • Regroup items usually ordered together in the same area. You can even prepare kits of items that come from the same supplier or that are slipped together;
  • Determine route to take according to product weight and volume. Heavier items will be picked up first so they will be placed at the bottom;
  • Make sure all related papers are easy to understand, clear and well organized. A clearer information will help tasks be accomplished faster and avoid committing mistakes in big orders. It is recommended to use large size letters, color codes and signs on the floor;
  • Choose the appropriate picking equipment. This equipment is your employee‘s workspace, it should then be functional and have all the items needed;
  • Eliminate as much as possible the use of papers in the picking process.They are the leading cause for mistakes and closely related to productivity losses. Use other systems like pick-to-light or RF. Evaluating your business needs is the first step to take. The second step is finding the best solution according to your picking limits and requirements. You may have to combine different methods and types of equipment available. Select a customized yet flexible solution to meet today’s business and tomorrow’s new trends. Automation is not necessarily the way to go.As a final thought, don’t lose sight of the importance of keeping track of your picking activities so you can compare your efficiency with others.

Evaluating your business needs is the first step to take. The second step is finding the best solution according to your picking limits and requirements. You may have to combine different methods and types of equipment available. Select a customized yet flexible solution to meet today’s business and tomorrow’s new trends. Automation is not necessarily the way to go.

As a final thought, don’t lose sight of the importance of keeping track of your picking activities so you can compare your efficiency with others.

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