Using a WMS to Improve Order Picking
In a time when more orders are being received online but efficiency and financial gains still have to be found, it can palce a strain on every element of the supply chain. Improving the order picking process is one of the best places to start, as it can take up as much as 60% of staff’s time during the day. If this can become more efficient, the knock-on effect on packaging and despatch would be significant.
A good warehouse management systems (WMS) should have the capability to help improve the order picking procedure to reduce wasted time and money. If you are using a batch picking process a consolidated packing list would be created before each item on the list is individually picked or batched. These are then transported over to the packing area in an unorganised state where they will have to be picked from that batch all over again. This effectively means orders are being picked twice, which is far from an organised and time efficient process.
Creating a leaner picking order system
The best WMS sytems will have the functionality to determine the size and amount of shipping cartons required for each order. This is a far more efficient method as it lessens the distance and time spent picking in the warehouse. Alternatively, setting up standard sized boxes for particular orders will add further efficiency to the supply chain.
This will mean the products are only being picked once, rather than being selected and re-picked again before packing. The items go directly into the correct packaging that have been pre-labelled with the customers details. This lessens the time spent moving around the warehouse, creating more time to fulfil other orders, providing faster deliveries and increasing customer satisfaction.
To implement cartonization (also known as cubing) it can only be fully optimised once the WMS has details of all the weights and measurements for every product. However, some businesses do still use this method without that information, basing it on estimated data, although this is the less productive option.
What are the benefits of using picking and packing?
This may not be the right fit for every operation but for those that wish to use it in their supply chain they will find quite a few advantages to improve efficiency and productivity.
Reduced handling of goods
Using the WMS carrier integration facility will allow for pre-labelling and earlier preparation of the cartons. This means orders are picked and packed into the right sized packaging and ready for shipment far more quickly. Even if multiple carriers are being deployed, the readied orders can simply be sorted and separated for despatch with more efficiency.
Better management of large orders volumes
With more drop shipping comes a higher volume of orders along with it. This is where pick and pack procedures offer real benefits, especially if the additional orders are in smaller batches. Drop shipping is becoming a more common part of the supply chain and the use of pack picking makes it a leaner process, even when there are more orders to deal with.
Improved management of staff
Less workers will be required in the packing section as the cartons have already been pre-prepared to the right size and with delivery details. This enables them to be used in the picking department which will have a positive impact on order throughput and enhance the delivery schedule.
The end effect of improving the processes earlier in the supply chain will mean orders can be despatch more quickly. Rather than waiting for products to be picked, sorted and then packaged, the time saved will mean the products can be in the possession of the customer even sooner. If you rely on carriers rather than using your own transportation then you can make their collection cut-off times more beneficial to both you and customer.