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improve your picking strategies to increase productivity & efficiency

picking strategies increase productivity and reduce error in picking operationsWhen an organization wants to improve their picking process, they often overhaul their existing picking operations to implement new picking techniques, new processes, and order new picking equipment in an attempt to gain productivity. These endeavors, while generally successful, often require a large upfront capital investment and a disruption in picking operations. This article will review picking strategies to increase productivity and reduce error in picking operations with minimal disruption to operations and without major capital investments.

how to increase productivity and reduce error with minimal disruption

While not wanting to make large upfront investments in improving picking operations is understandable, there are many smaller things that can be done within your current operations that can improve productivity now and still position your company to continue to grow.

automated storage systems increase picking productivity in warehouses

Parts slotting: A large amount of worker time is spent traveling to and from a location to pick parts. Reviewing SKU movement regularly and placing fast moving SKUs at the front of the picking area can add up to great advances in productivity. Since re-slotting all SKUs at one time can be a large task, review a small percentage of SKUs more frequently and aim for targeting 8-10% for monthly re-slotting, starting with fast moving SKUs.

Utilizing the Golden Zone: It's important for worker productivity and safety that the SKUs are accessible and require minimal effort to be picked. To maximize worker productivity and ergonomics, the majority of picks should be located in the Golden Zone: the area between a worker's knees and shoulders. This increases picking speeds and improves accuracy while also reducing the risk of injury to the worker, avoiding costly worker compensation claims.

picking strategies increase productivity and improve accuracy in warehouses

Matching SKUs to storage technology: Matching the SKU profile (size, velocity, quantity) to the storage location needs to be a priority for growing businesses. Static shelving is the most inexpensive solution, but offers low storage density, poor ergonomics, and high travel times. Shelving is generally best for slow-moving SKUs that are infrequently picked, while automated storage solutions can be implemented at a minimal cost for maximum throughput, increased productivity, and error reduction. With automated storage, workers spend 86% more time picking than a manual picking environment.

Picking strategies: Implementing a picking strategy such as batch picking, zone picking, pick-and-pass, or consolidation, combined with pick-to-light technology, is another way to tweak warehouse operations to increase productivity and reduce error. Picking and replenishment processes should be simple and reviewed frequently for effectiveness. Making smaller adjustments occasionally is easier than large picking overhauls that disrupt warehouse operations.

contact us for more information on picking strategies

Southwest Solutions Group® provides design and installation services to warehouses looking to improve their picking strategies with shelving and automated storage solutions to increase productivity and reduce error in picking operations. SSG will even provide a free consultation to determine your warehouse's exact needs before the design process begins. To learn more or to speak with a material handling specialist, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.

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