Four tips to improve warehouse picking speed and accuracy

Order picking involves taking items from stock to fill a customer’s order. This is often the most labour-intensive task within a warehouse and accounts for as much as much as 55 percent of operational costs within a distribution centre. 

Order picking is often a strenuous physical process and can be inefficient due to slow speeds and human error. Customer satisfaction levels are directly affected by picking accuracy and the success of any business is determined by customer satisfaction

Here are four ways you can improve the order picking process to make it more productive and accurate.

1. Invest in a software that helps keep track of it.

A modern Warehouse Management Software WMS system in conjunction with Zebra Mobile barcode scanning terminals or wearables will ensure that items are in the correct location and available to picking staff in the right quantity at the right time. Legacy systems and terminal emulation software can be upgraded to run on the latest Android OS with Zebra All Touch for ease of use and multiple advantages of the Android platform such as enhanced data security

2. Put the popular items at close reach

It may sound obvious but put the popular items nearest. Usually 80% of the orders you get come from only 20% of the products you have in stock. Put these items nearest to the load consolidation area to improve the speed at which orders can be picked. A modern WMS would provide data to show which items were your fastest movers

3. Keep track of stock levels

If you know when stock is added or replenished your inventory planners can accurately anticipate purchasing requirements and dove tail these with order lead times and manufacturing schedules. With Zebra Mobile barcode scanning terminals, wearables and vehicle mount computers, ‘out-of-stocks’ can be drastically reduced with rapid replacement of goods into the appropriate location and real time updating of the WMS.

4. Use barcodes to your advantage

Research shows the average worker reading or writing alpha numeric characters, as a means of identification of goods, will make an error on 3% of recorded transactions : Add to this the time taken to record items manually and possibly additional errors made when paperwork is then entered into computer inventories, it is not hard to see the advantages of barcoding inventory items.

The information shown on that barcode label is key to an efficient process and best practise would be to show the name of the supplier, the associated purchase order number, the SKU and the pallet or case quantity with one or several barcodes used to represent that information

Where items are not barcoded by the supplier Zebra have a range of desktop and mobile label printers for use in warehousing. These can be coupled with Zebra media supplies to provide cost effective labels in different materials and with different adhesives to create labels for all environments and for use as easy peel to permanent features

By applying these four tips, you can drastically improve your picking speed and accuracy. The right technology is key to making these steps a reality. We supply a range of rugged mobile computing, barcode scanning, label printing and RFID products to maximize the efficiency of your warehouse. Click the link below to get in touch with us regarding your barcoding and RFID needs.

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