Happy customers are the greatest asset to a business. Behind every satisfied customer is a team working towards timely delivery and quality service. Services like Pick and Pack is time consuming and most costly activity in a warehouse. Experience like mis-pick, mis-pack or any general error in the warehouse will not only bring down the profitability but lead to questioning, poor service and unhappy customers. Though there is no denial that errors and mistakes are part of any business but once found, it is a must to quickly fix problems for better proficiency.
While fixing, it is important to touch upon many aspects of the warehouse. The most valuable resource of an organization are their employees and work culture followed by the machineries and tools used to drive the warehouse for pick and pack order fulfillment. To get your pick and pack service right, here’s a list of 15 best practices that can make a remarkable difference in the way your fulfillment works.
1. Setting up the process and work culture right:
When the process is in place it is easy for on job workers to follow from step one till the work is done. It is also essential between employer and employee to have an open and candid relationship to communicate better, work in sync and for success of the organization.
2. Reckon on system verification machine:
The standard operating procedures (SOP’s) should be designed to double check in each stage to zero in the errors and to collect the data like user id, quantity, item, counting inventory etc.
3. Envisage different strategy for storage:
Different options for storage will boost expertise within warehouse. For instance, Slotting will reduce accidents, product damage and congestion drastically. It may also enhance storage intensity. Timely review on storage strategy will help to make changes as per the seasonal demand and align the warehouse practice.
4. Post/ Display Picking rates of employees:
Coming back to the valuable resource – employees, Displaying or simply posting real time picking rates of individuals or group of employees will certainly encourage healthy competition and greater atonement by being the best.
5. Weigh! Weigh! And do it every time:
It is not necessary to measure and weigh every single order and stock keeping unit (SKU), But large number of orders should be weighed with verification software for weighing and weigh scale. As the experts from the industry too say “Things that are quantifiable should be measured”.
6. Error free Documentation:
Wrong set of papers with wrong orders is a common error in most of the organization with piles of documents to be managed holding huge number of orders. The mishaps and the number of labor involved in this process is dramatic. Using software or gadgets designed specially to scan or insert the documents like catalogues, flyers, coupons and instructions within fraction of seconds can ensure error free documentation.
7. Voice Picking:
Voice picking is a practice and comes in picture when large number of SKU’s are in the shelves. The audio directs the operator or the picker to the right location and correct quantity. The quantity and the SKU are then verified by the picker. This practice frees up the worker’s hand and also increases the accuracy level.
8. Visual checking/ Scanning:
This technology has been in the industry for a while now, however, in today’s time the cost and the accuracy of this practice are increased dramatically. The system looks inside the boxes of picked items and recognizes each SKU in that sequence. It also verifies the accuracy, allowing the checker to review lesser orders resulting in lesser labor.
9. Follow different methods for order picking
- Zone picking: Where the picker is assigned a specific zone and only recognizes picking order within the zone.
- Batch picking: The picker picks multiple orders simultaneously minimizing trips to each location.
- Wave picking: in this process, all the zones are picked at the same time and the items are later segregated and consolidated as per the order or shipment.
10. Eliminate walking for error free picking:
On an average it is said, Order picker spends 60 per cent of the time in walking or moving the product around. Adding workstations with power and having automated systems can reduce travel time and save energy of the pickers. A less tired individual is less prone to errors.
11. Planning in advance:
Following the practice of defining pick and pack orders in advance like what process are we going to use can help smoothen the movement. Organizing, directing, utilization and planning in advance for every order will tremendously increase the staff performance.
12. Use Pick and Put light indicators:
Pick to light and put to light indicators are very cost effective methods. Items are delivered to the operator at a comfortable height and the lights tell/direct the operator as to how many times the item is to be picked and put into the correct order. These technologies can be implemented in various processes and reduce errors drastically.
13. Automate sensibly and only when it is required:
Earlier the automated systems that were used in a particular business or industry are now applicable for multiple other business as well. Robotic applications were once used only in manufacturing particularly in welding automotive. The same technology is now applicable and affordable in picking and packing too. However, at what stage does your business need to go the automation way, is something that cannot be generalized. For all you know, hiring labor may be well too suited to your business at this time as against investing in lot of machinery and technology. Though we all know that going the automation way is the only sustainable and efficient long term solution but decide when you want to take that route.
14. Persistent Training:
Training is not a onetime process where the new employees are taught for a particular period. Training needs to be conducted again and again. Training should be designed to update the skill and ensure the process is always in mind. Staffs trained on safety measures are less likely to have accidents.
15. Standard Packaging system:
Packers at packing station should devote time in giving the customer’s order a special touch. But would it be viable to fluctuate packaging of each order? Probably not. It is not a constant requirement to decide on size of box and wrap for every order. Predetermined package in different sizes to fit the products, without being over-sized or oddly shaped is the best practice. This will save time during the process and also money on shipping costs as well.