Several picking strategies are possible in a DC and the preferred method for a given operation depends on order profiles, product characteristics, delivery characteristics, equipment and technology to name a few factors.
Take, for example, an operation with a low SKU count and high volume. The distinct nature of this operation creates a unique profile with its own picking strategies such as:
Conventional Pick Line
The most common and flexible strategy for DCs, a conventional pick line can be set up to meet the profile of most operations. SKUs are slotted along the pick line in the appropriate sized slots according to velocity. In this example, the pick line is short and SKUs multi-fronted as needed to improve congestion. Pickers travel the aisle with pallet jacks, picking cases to pallets according to store orders. All SKUs are picked along the same pick path and once the pallet is complete, it is brought to the dock for staging. As with any pick line, the balance lies between pick path length and excessive replenishment.
Reverse Line Pick
Reverse line picking is an ideal strategy for low SKU, high volume operations. Pallets for outbound orders are staged on the dock to create a pick path. SKUs are bulk picked from storage by the pallet for that day’s orders and brought to a ready reserve area. Pickers retrieve a full pallet of product from the ready reserve and travel the staging aisle, placing product to the designated outbound pallets. This strategy can be combined with a conventional picking strategy for odd ball items that can then be married up with the rest of the order. In the appropriate operations, this strategy can reduce the overall distance traveled in the warehouse.
Pick-to-Belt With Sortation
The most intricate of the picking strategies discussed here, a pick-to-belt operation can significantly increase productivity in a warehouse. SKUs are slotted as in a conventional pick path only denser, and a conveyor runs down the center of the aisle. Pickers are responsible for a zone, picking cases and placing them to the center belt. The cases travel along the belt for sortation where they are scanned, sorted by order and diverted for palletizing. This solution requires the greatest capital and operational investment but that can be gained back in labor savings.
These are just a few picking strategies that can be implemented to get the most out of your DC, figuratively and literally. And as the operational profile changes, so do the picking strategies.
What are some of your picking strategies? Wondering what strategy is best suited for your operation? Reach out and let’s chat!