Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Five ways to increase picking productivity

January 23, 2012
By Kardex Remstar

Organizations often implement new picking techniques, new order picking equipment or new processes in an attempt to gain productivity in their operations. While these endeavours are successful and lead to big jumps in productivity, there are ways to achieve smaller productivity gains without revising your entire picking operations. Here are five ways you can improve productivity in your manufacturing picking operation today.

1. Slot your parts. A fast moving SKU can become a slow moving SKU next month. Matching the part by velocity, size and stored quantity to the storage location can increase productivity. Often organizations fail to reorganize parts as order profiles change, and the slower moving SKUs end up stored in the prime picking locations while faster moving SKUs are added to inventory and stored in less accessible locations. By re-slotting SKUs on a regular basis picking times can be improved.

2. Utilize the golden zone. Make sure fast moving SKUs are accessible and require minimal effort from the worker to be picked. This means making sure that the majority of picks a worker makes are located in the golden zone – the area between a workers knees and shoulders. This minimizes the worker reaching, bending and lifting – actions that lead to worker fatigue. Picking from the golden zone not only increases a worker’s picking speed, but with less fatigue, pick accuracy will also improve.

3. Batch picking. Picking more than one order at a time can increase productivity substantially. Switching from the one-to-one grocery cart picking concept to a batch picking concept can be achieved with batch picking push carts. Having workers pick more than one order at a time will utilize the worker’s time more effectively and can increase productivity.


4. Keep it simple. Organizations often over complicate the picking process. While getting the right part to the right place at the right time can be a challenge, it’s important to remember to keep it simple. Special rules and multiple steps leave room for error. Instead, keep the process simple and streamlined, leaving less room for mistakes.

5. Review and ask why. Review your picking and replenishment processes and ask yourself why you do things the way you do. You may find that there are steps in processes that were implemented some time ago that no longer have merit. We’re creatures of habit and do things because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Is your process the same today as it was a year ago? Does it still make sense? Subjecting your picking and replenishment process to continual review allows you to make smaller adjustments occasionally instead of a large picking overhaul that is disruptive to your operation.

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