How to Improve Picking Operations with a WMS

How to Improve Picking Operations with a WMS


A WMS (warehouse management system) is a powerful tool that will make your warehouse more competitive in a number of ways. To get the greatest benefit from your WMS, actively use it on your most expensive operation. For most warehouses, that is picking. Picking is a labour intensive and often inefficient operation. Unless you have already focused a lot of effort on improving your picking operations, picking is a low hanging fruit where you can achieve great savings. Here are two suggestions for doing this with a WMS:

Create and Analyse WMS Reports
Reports that track picking times give you insights into employee performance, picking travel times, and your warehouse layout. Analysis of average times can reveal significant picking time differences between the different SKUs (stock-keeping units) in your warehouse. Comparing the specifics behind the SKUs with the fastest picking times to those with the slowest will reveal picking path efficiencies, good and poor SKU locations, as well as equipment and labour deficiencies. Perhaps the slowest SKUs are bulky or heavy and need assignment to better locations or should be picked with more effective equipment.
Reports that show the locations of SKUs picked during concurrent order fulfilments can identify SKUs sitting in bins close together that are being picked separately for different orders. These should be batch picked by one picker rather than sending two separate pickers to the same area. SKUs in different locations that are consistently picked at about the same time (within an hour of the other say) suggests a change to your warehouse layout where these items be placed in the same location to allow a single picker to batch pick them.

Use Wave Picking
If your business receives many orders per day, you can take advantage of the wave picking feature of your WMS. A common way for fulfilling multiple orders is to process them in chronological order. However, a more efficient approach is grouping the orders that share the same SKUs. A single picker can then fulfil them all at once.
You can also group your orders to minimise picking paths, or all orders going out by UPS, or all high priority items that must leave as soon as possible. Orders requiring refrigeration can be grouped to go on the same refrigerated truck. Just set the criteria and your WMS will group your orders accordingly.
To learn more about how a WMS can improve your warehouse operations, please contact us.

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