If You Want It to Be Efficient: Increase the Potential in the Warehouse with an Intelligent Picking Strategy!

Individual stages of picking strategy

Orders upon orders? No end in sight of items to be picked? But how do I get the whole thing processed efficiently? One thing is certain: Order picking is an extremely important core process in the warehouse of every company, which should not be neglected at all. It is not uncommon for the picking process to account for a good 50% of the total effort within a distribution centre. The share of pure travel time is considerable and ties up enormous capacities – this inevitably affects the efficiency of the logistical processes in the warehouse as a whole. The solution? Streamlining the process by minimising walking distances. So, the motto is: there is no way around an intelligent picking strategy! 

Imagine the following simplified scenario: You have two orders with the same items, for example light bulb. For the first order you need a quantity of 5 and for the second order a quantity of 100 light bulbs. How efficient would you find it if the 100 pieces were put together from several sources and by different employees and the segments (areas) or levels in the warehouse were also changed - but it was possible at another storage location to pick the necessary items for both orders from a single box with around 150 available light bulbs?  

At one of our customers, we were already able to design an efficient strategy with the help of SuPCIS-L8, with the aim of significantly increasing performance in order picking. The main goal of the optimisation was to reduce the walking distances: The multi-storey shelving system with four levels or 11 picking segments offers sufficient storage space for the wide range of items with many different products, which are not infrequently stored in several places in the shelving warehouse. The new stock reservation system makes it possible to create strategically sensible, location-based combinations between the many options for reserving individual order items and in this way to specify exactly on which level or in which segment to pick. Strategically related to the order to be reserved, the shortest possible distances of the storage bins to be approached can thus be determined and the travel times for an order can thus be kept as short as possible. In short: reserve as close to each other as possible for the “densest” picking of the order.  

An essential basis for this optimised stock reservation is above all the process questions such as: “Can all items of the order to be booked, be reserved in a single segment (horizontal check)?”, “Is it possible to reserve all items of the order to be reserved in a single level (vertical check)?”. The checks are carried out in several stages based on parameterised criteria and are mapped as a set of rules in the WMS. 

The optimised stock reservation and the exact classification of the reservation results are furthermore used to compile meaningful pick orders within a round trip on a transport unit on the basis of an order pool. In practice, related orders are planned together in a batch, but with the restriction that the planned batch is not larger than a transport unit. But what does related mean at this point? The degree of relatedness here simply refers to the local reservation results in the picking segments. The planning of the individual batches is also carried out in multi-stage checking sequences analogous to stock reservation with the aim of only having to travel in a small part of the warehouse for a round trip if possible. The filling restrictions of transport units, the capacity at the subsequent process (for example packing) as well as the order situation are also taken into account during the entire batch planning. The switches of the strategies can be parameterised. 

Thanks to an intelligent picking strategy, incoming orders in the warehouse can be processed more quickly, with shorter travel times and less effort per order. This not only ensures increased efficiency when picking orders, but also provides physical relief for the employees and makes the processes in the warehouse more efficient overall. 

 

Would you like to know more details? Don’t hesitate to contact us! 

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Author
Joshua Smith

Project Manager