If you had to determine what the most important part of your operations is right now, what would you say? Regardless of your answer, your top priority should always be picking. When it comes to ensuring that you are making the most out of your business and fulfilling your customer’s needs, picking has to be at the top of the list.
This is because it takes up the most time and resources, and as such, it should be the fundamental metric by which you measure the success of your business.
So, with that in mind, how do you stack up? Are you operating as efficiently as you could be right now? What happens if your number of orders doubles? Triples? If you want to grow your company without experiencing a host of issues, then you need to make sure that your picking performance is as good as it can be.
Fortunately, we have some suggestions to help you out. If you want to improve your current picking process by at least 40 percent, then follow these strategies. Your bottom line depends on it.
#1 Mobile Workstations
One of the reasons that picking takes up so much time is that workers have to cover so much ground. Thus, the best way to reduce redundancies in your warehouse is to eliminate the need for walking back and forth. Inefficient operations usually have dedicated work stations where pickers have to be to do things like process orders, label inventory or stack their products. However, if you bring the station to them, then they can move and work in a continuous flow, thereby cutting down on time spent walking from place to place.
At Newcastle Systems, we have a fully integrated solution that can improve your bottom line substantially. Here is what you can expect from a mobile workstation.
- Enter data as you pick, right from the cart
- Eliminate walking back and forth; just place each product on the cart as you go
- Label items in real-time
- Reduce errors because you are scanning as you are loading
- Pick and pack at the same time
- Minimize the amount of touching per item
Overall, you can increase your overall productivity by 50% just from using this kind of system instead of the one you currently have. By enabling workers to pick, label, scan, and pack all at once, it makes your operations so much more efficient.
#2 Voice Systems
If your pickers could work without having to hold scanners or documents in their hand, they would be able to move much more product without any lag time or errors. To help initiate this change, you can implement a system where orders and items are relayed through headsets instead of paper sheets or even tablets. This also enables you to have one person supervising the picking process while instructing multiple pickers. This will reduce the amount of errors while also ensuring a faster picking rate overall.
#3 Improved Inventory Management
One of the biggest issues for pickers is that products can be spread out throughout the warehouse. Sometimes, this is a result of things getting disorganized or put away improperly. By improving your inventory systems and the overall layout of your warehouse, you can further reduce picking time by shortening the distance between items and allowing them to be grouped by category or class. This way, even if you don’t have a mobile workstation (or they are all being used), a picker can still cut down the amount of back and forth.
#4 Heat Mapping
To fully understand where there are bottlenecks and delays in your picking process, you first need to see how things are moving with your current system. Tracking devices can be worn by your workers so that you can monitor their activity and see how they move around the warehouse, as well as how many times they go back to a particular area. This data can help you both with inventory management and organization as well as illustrate what steps you can take to streamline the whole process.
#5 Wearable Devices
With technology advancing so much these days, you can find scanners and other picking tools that are light and compact enough to be worn on the wrist or around the neck. This way, instead of your pickers having to pull a tablet out over and over again, they can simply wave their hand and scan products as they are picked. This will not only save time, but it will ensure that your devices don’t get dropped or mishandled. The equipment can be expensive, so you want to make sure that you reduce the chance of it breaking. Also, it can be more hygienic than having everyone touching the same screen all day long.
No matter what, as long as your picking process is inefficient you will be limiting the level of success and growth that you can experience. Even incremental changes can make a significant impact on your revenue, and the more that you can reduce errors and improve accuracy, the better your customers will rely on you for the future.