HOW TO IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY IN MANUAL PICKING
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HOW TO IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY IN MANUAL PICKING If you haven't examined your with a reduction of 26 people. The should show on each picking list. In warehouse in the last several years, manual system took much less time this way the supervisor will be able to chances are excellent that you could to install, and provided flexibility the schedule the pickers, and the pickers improve productivity substantially and stacker crane could not match. will know the predetermined perhaps even without the outlay of standards which they should meet or capital funds. Our experience For a warehouse picking operation to exceed. indicates that a 10% reduction in be efficient, the office must prepare costs is easy and that 20% to 30% is helpful picking lists. Getting an order When the picking list is prepared, all not unusual. from a customer and rushing it to the out-of-stock items should be deleted. warehouse for picking may give the This will keep the picker from Depending on the type of warehouse, impression that something is reading extraneous material and will 30% to 40% of the labor cost can be happening fast, but in the long run, save time. in the picking operation. We will this approach usually wastes time examine this area below and suggest and, in fact, slows up the handling There is no one right way to pick. where improvements could be made. process. Every situation has to be examined for its peculiarities and special First of all, we do not think that going The office should go through a requirements. In a warehouse there from an inefficient manual system to number of steps in processing are many variables which have an a sophisticated automated system is paperwork as outlined below. We impact on picking. These effects necessarily the answer. If you want omit consideration of credit checking, may be good or they can slow up the to justify switching from an ineffective bills of lading and labels in this operation. operation to a sophisticated one, it article. can sometimes be done. However, ELEMENTS OF PICKING you should first consider in-between STEPS FOR THE OFFICE operations that don't cost much A number of elements must be money and are easy to install and The first step in helping the considered for effective picking. control. warehouse is to deduct each item Generally the first element is to pick from inventory. If an item is not up the order. The second element is Several years ago, we studied an deducted from inventory, the picker to read it. The third element is for the operation that had three warehouses. may spend time looking for it. Our picker to go to the first item to be The company decided that it wanted experience indicates that an out-of- picked. This may be riding on one warehouse for its 60,000 items. stock item may take up to 30% more equipment or walking. The picker The three operations had 32 pickers time to look for than one that is in then picks that item. The next in total. stock. Not only does the picker element might be to make a notation spend his own time searching, but he on the pick list. Then, he reads the We designed one efficient may ask other pickers or a supervisor next item, walks to that location, warehouse which required six pickers for help or information. picks the item, makes a notation on and used a manual system of the pick list and repeats this picking. The second step provided by the sequence for the balance of the office should be to prepare a legible items. After they have been picked, Using stacker cranes in this ware- picking list with an exact location for the items are brought back to a house would have required four each item. Third, each item on the central point, laid down and the order people. However, these stacker picking list should be printed in the form might be signed or initialed by cranes would have cost $3.6 million same sequence as it is located in the the picker. and taken two years to implement. warehouse. If there is split picking This sophisticated system would for broken lots, full cases and full In most manual picking operations, have saved 28 people. Instead, the pallet items, the sequence should be 80% to 85% of the time is spent traditional warehouse with shelving, broken out separately for each area. either walking or riding. The balance racks and picking equipment cost of the time is spent studying the $495,000. This was easy to justify The standard time to pick each order order, making notations and doing the actual picking. If we eliminate a sense when there are a few line good part of the walking or riding we items per order and the picking path Equipment has an important impact can reduce overall picking time. distance is short. on picking. This is a major subject by Several pickers may be used for a itself. For example, pushing a cart is ITEM LOCATION AND zone pick with each picker picking in not as quick as using an electric PLACEMENT a finite area. Zone picking is suitable pallet jack. for orders with many lines to reduce Travel (walking or riding) time is travel time. Equipment attachments also have an dependent upon distance. One way important effect on picking. A fork to reduce distance is to locate the Batch picking may be used when truck with a side shifter can fastest moving items near the many orders have the same items. maneuver quicker than one without. shipping point. If we follow Pareto's In this situation, orders are totaled or Law or the 80-20 rule, and we put batched, and the product picked as a WORKER ABILITY 20% of the items close to the batch. It is then brought to an assem- shipping point, they may account for bly point for individual pieces to be · What about the worker's ability? 80% of picking. separated for each order. · Can the worker read well Item placement is also an important Split picking is when different kinds enough? factor. If a picker has to reach over of picking equipment are required to six feet or below one foot, the work pick an order. For instance, in one · If the worker uses a fork truck in becomes more difficult. Items in area a cart might be used, in another an operation, has he or she been deep bins or racks require reaching area a fork truck, and in a third area instructed in its proper use and and perhaps climbing. These the pick may be made to conveyor. been authorized to drive it in motions take time. Items that are Line items for an order are merged accordance with OSHA wedged in or difficult to pull out also before or during shipping. regulations? require time. For example, if two pallets are next to each other and PICK LIST · Is the worker capable of doing they have material overhanging and what he or she is supposed to touching, a fork truck driver trying to The pick list has a decided effect on do, and is the worker properly remove one pallet will have the time needed to pick. The list motivated to do an effective job? unnecessary difficulty, take more should be designed to be easy to time and perhaps damage read. It should have a location, an LAYOUT merchandise. item number and a description of each item. In some instances a Warehouse layout has an effect on STANDARD PACKS batch number or lot number is picking. If the aisles are not properly required. Printing these lot or batch laid out, considerable walking may be Standard packs have an impact on numbers on the pick list will save the required to go from one item to the time required to pick. If items have to picker's time. next. There are substantial be weighed or counted by the picker, differences in the time needed to pick additional picking time is needed. It Item size also has an impact on from shelving, the floor, flow racks, is desirable to have pre-packaged, picking. It generally takes less time pallet racks or drive-in racks. standard packs which need not be to pick small items than to pick large broken for picking. (This is a items that are bulky or hard to · If there is a forward picking area, marketing decision which can help handle. Using the correct equipment replenishment is an important factor the warehouse.) helps to improve this situation. in the picking sequence. If the forward picking slots are not A related problem is that units or replenished adequately and the pallets may not have the same count MARKING AND LABELING pickers are required to pick the for similar items. If this is so and the complete orders, must they go to picker is aware of it, it takes more Proper marking or labeling makes a other areas to complete their orders? time to pick. If the picker is not difference in picking. If an item is not aware of this situation, there will be marked at all or marked incorrectly, EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE picking errors. it takes time to determine if it is the right item. If there are several mark- Proper equipment maintenance has PICKING METHODOLOGY ings or labels on the item, confusion a tremendous bearing on picking, as occurs and time is wasted breakdowns must be avoided. The Picking methods can be different for determining the correct nomencla- impact of a conveyor which stops, different operations. For instance, ture. with 20 or 30 people working it, can one picker can make one pass to be disastrous. pick one order. This method makes EQUIPMENT UNIT LOAD INTEGRITY are in the same area or an aisle is too small for one picker to go · If you have a measurement, is it Load integrity has an impact on past another? analyzed to determine pro- picking. Moving a pallet load of full TRAINING ductivity for the total operation cartons or bags of chemicals that are and for each picker? unstable or slide off can be discon- · What effect does training have certing and time consuming. on picking? · Does this analysis tell you where to look for ways to improve · What would happen if these · Do pickers know the location picking? items were stretch or shrink system? wrapped, glued or contained in SUPERVISION some kind of unit load? · Do they know how to use their equipment? Supervision is probably the most HOUSEKEEPING important element in a picking · Do they know, or are they operation. Another time consumer is poor trained to put items into con- housekeeping. tainers with the markings up so · Is the warehouse laid out so that that the checkers don't have to the supervisor can see the · How fast can you move when re-handle them? pickers? there is merchandise or trash on the floor or in the aisles which · Do pickers know how to check · Are there standards which can slow down a picker from moving and sign their picking lists? be used to measure the pickers? - with or without equipment? MEASUREMENT • Does the supervisor watch to see what they are doing and if Just trying to move a pallet jack over · How about a system of mea- they are doing it correctly? small pieces of debris in the aisle can surement? slow up an operation. As we've noted, many factors · Are there predetermined stan- influence the picking function, which TRAFFIC CONGESTION dards which tell you what you is itself only one of many elements to are measuring? be considered in productive · How about traffic congestion? warehouse management. · Should you be measuring · What effect is there on a picking weight, lines, orders, pieces or operation when too many pickers dollars per hour?