Picking Systems

Avatar Pick, pack, shipping warehouses who hire workers to fill orders maintain some kind of Pick and Pack system to try to fill as many orders as possible per day. There are several tools that are used to speed up the process of order filling, and cut down on missing items, wrong items, and extra items. This includes choosing a layout for the fastest possible picking of inventory, and a system that facilitates picking speed, efficiency, and accuracy.


Over the years several processes have been tried and used. Automation and robotics are real possibilities only if you are starting with a new warehouse and the automation is built in. These two possibilities can be more complex or not feasible for pre-existing warehouses, because they need space and certain arrangements in warehouse design to allow them to function at their maximum capacity.

Paper Invoice

The slowest but cheapest method still involves paper invoice orders. A worker gets an order, goes to the shelves and gets the items then puts them all together to be packed and shipped out to the customer. To maximize speed you must arrange your warehouse so that the items that tend to be ordered most are all closer together and usually toward the front rows of the warehouse.

RF Barcode Scanning

RF (Radio Frequency) Hand-held Barcode Scanners are more costly but also more accurate than paper invoice, but less costly than voice directed or pick to light systems. The key benefit is accuracy. It is more productive than paper invoice, but it can be slowed down because it is hooked directly into your WMS and a picker must sometimes slow down or stop to interact with the system. It also includes working with your hands and eyes, which can also lead to a slow down during usage.

While there may be better solutions for large warehouse operations, RF hand-held scanners can be a good working solution for the smaller businesses who don't ship massive numbers of items per day.

Pick to Light

Also the faster process used today is called pick to light. A worker will fill orders based on bins that light up and stay lit until you have picked out all the items in the row designated for orders. This system is costly and includes lights in the warehouse. There is also a learning curve in using the system. But the output, the minimal mistakes, can negate the original set-up headaches and cost in the long run.

Voice Directed Picking

A much faster method (nearly ten times faster) is the voice directed picking process. A worker will where a headset and battery pack, and the voice will tell them what to pick once they have the item they get another voice command until orders are filled.

You may be filling multiple orders at one time, based on where items are placed in the warehouse. The number of possible orders picked per hour can be staggering. Some companies have recorded up to 350 or so.

There are  number of important issues to consider with the voice directed system. Unlike RF scanners, it is totally hands free. Training on the usage of voice directed equipment is quick and easy. This system may cost more, but it is more efficient and productive, saving a lot more money over time.

End Note

Over the years systems operations have changed, mostly for the better. Most now include different levels of software technology to aid the hardware aspects of the picking systems. It should be said that no picking system can be described as either all positive or all negative. Managers and owners will always need to consider the warehouse itself, and the working budgets that are available. Be sure to contact us when looking for more pick, pack, and shipping information that may meet your needs.

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