Pick and pack processes take up a significant portion of a business’ outgoings. Mistakes that are made during the pick and pack process can be costly, so it’s important to optimise the efficiency of your system – whether that be by improving your internal system or outsourcing your pick and pack needs to a specialist provider.
Challenges to the pick and pack process can include issues with inaccurate inventory or stock monitoring and the consequent failure to fulfil orders. Another frequently encountered challenge is prolonged turnaround times due to packer error or an unorganised warehouse. Insufficient or missing product information can also cause big problems for both picking and packing.
What can be done to overcome these challenges and optimise your pick and pack process?
Use Mobile Technology to Improve Inventory Accuracy
Mobile systems such as barcoding can be extremely useful in maintaining an accurate product inventory. Scanners and similar methods offer a more accurate solution than manual approaches such as pen and paper recording that are far more susceptible to human error. Scanning barcodes offers an error free way of imputing important stock data onto your system.
Optimise Your Warehouse Layout
One of the best ways to optimise your pick and pack process is to design your warehouse for maximum efficiency. This might include:
- Placing best-selling products closer to packing stations, to reduce inevitable travel to and fro.
- Storing items that are frequently purchased together in nearby zones.
- Arranging your inventory from top selling to low selling.
A warehouse may even pay mind to the height at which popular products are stored, reducing the time spent reaching up or down to pick a product for packing. By optimising in this way, items can be more efficiently located, picked and packed – which in turn reduces the overall duration of the picking and packing process.
Keep your Warehouse Clean and Organised
There’s no use designing a maximally efficient warehouse if organisation is not maintained. During day-to-day activity, it is essential that workers actively maintain systems implemented in order to streamline picking. Placing items in the wrong zone or storage receptacle can result in unnecessary delays in the picking process or even incorrect selection for an order. Floors should also be kept clear to allow for easy access and to limit accidents.
Thoroughly Train Warehouse Staff
Although some may argue that any candidate has the potential to work a pick and pack system – effectively training your packing team is key to optimising your operation. Though the packing system is largely simple, staff need to be briefed on executing it efficiently and safely.
As packing can seem like a repetitive job, a business may also choose to offer incentives for their staff. When employees feel valued and rewarded for their work, they are more likely to perform their jobs well and to stay with the job longer.
Use a Pick to Light System
Another way to increase order fulfilment productivity is through the use of pick to light systems. Relying on hard copy pick tickets can be time consuming and also opens up opportunities for human error. Pick to light systems use light directed warehouse technology that offers an ideal solution for paperless picking. These systems use alphanumeric displays and buttons at storage locations to guide employees in light-aided manual picking, putting, sorting, and assembling. Pick to light systems offer a host of benefits to productivity including quicker packing times and improved accuracy.