Do you know how your company initially operated its picking process? Did you use paper lists? Excel files? Don’t worry. Most companies start out with operations carried out manually. Warehouse operators are sent into the warehouse to pick items for specific orders. They walk swiftly through the aisles, pick the right products, put them in their cart, and check the boxes on their paper list. Job done. But is this a realistic scenario?
Let’s be honest. This is the happy flow. Even with the best intentions, operators bump into problems during their picking run. Items on their list are out of stock, they can’t find the specific location, they struggle to find the most efficient routing or they cross the same location over and over again in one run. Frustrating for them, but also for your business.
Experience is valuable, but not always available
Experienced operators know how to deal with these issues and know the routes by heart. But sometimes it’s unavoidable to attract new workers or temporary workers. For example when your warehouse is subject to seasonal peaks or when it’s hard to retain experienced workers. New operators need training and are more likely to run into troubles they can’t immediately solve. And let’s be fair, experienced operators are only human. They make mistakes as well. But how do you reduce the number of errors?
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Single order picking versus batch picking
Reducing the number of errors
By using automated solutions in the picking, sorting and transport processes, the number of errors can be reduced drastically. Picking systems, put-to-light cabinets, or automated sortation systems can help you get the most out of your warehouse. By taking tasks out of human hands, the work is carried out more precisely and driven by real-time data. Some examples of automation benefits:
- By using real-time inventory, the system already knows an item’s inventory before creating the picking wave.
- The warehouse management system automatically generates the most efficient picking route
- Visual cues help operators pick the right SKU
- Sorting accuracy of automated sortation solutions is 99,99% much higher than manual sorting
Transparency throughout the entire process
Automation often comes with sensors or scan verifications. This helps track items throughout the warehouse and brings more transparency throughout your process. You gain insight into where each item is, at any given stage in your process. In addition, this offers you the right data to pinpoint bottlenecks, problem areas, or possible improvements.
Some examples of companies that were able to reduce their errors by implementing automation:
- GLS Spain - Parcel company
- BR Magazacilik - fashion company
- The Delivery Group - e-commerce mail specialist
- Modexpress - 3PL company