The picking process forms the interface between warehousing and customer orders. Sophisticated sequencing, clear storage location structures and the targeted use of technologies such as automated storage and conveyor systems help to minimize picking times while maximizing the accuracy of order processing.
A picking process is understood as the order-related collection of certain individual quantities (goods) within a provided total quantity (assortment). This can be a classic customer order or a production order. The order picker, picker or gripper is the person who enters an order.
Differentiation is made according to the origin of the goods:
- Standard: Goods withdrawal from a standard warehouse
- Optimized: Goods withdrawal from a picking warehouse
- Just in time (JIT): Goods withdrawal from production
- Click and collect: Goods withdrawal from a stationary retail store
To record the various activities, employees wear three sensors when analyzing the process. Localization takes place via beacons. After a two-week measurement, the data is analyzed with a highly specialized artificial intelligence (AI/neural network). Individual activities and process steps are displayed in an analysis dashboard (diagrams, heat maps, etc.). For example, walking, waiting or picking times can be effectively analyzed. In addition to efficiency analyses, ergonomics evaluations are also part of the measurement results. Ergonomic findings can be put to good use when optimizing the picking process.
For example, we can effectively detect more than 60 different activities, including unhealthy postures, and analyze them in the picking process. If necessary, the AI can easily be expanded to include new activities so that Optimize Analysis can be tailored even more individually to the customer.
A major factor in the analysis of the process is the analysis of the picking time. Picking time is critical to how quickly a customer or manufacturing receives the products or materials they need. Picking time is made up of different individual times such as travel time, pick time, dead time, additional time, and results in pick time - each individual time is considered when optimizing the picking process.
Basic time is the time spent on organizational activities before and after the picking order. This includes, among other things, recording, reading and arranging the picking documents, accessing the picking device and delivering the picking device to a collection station. Research and procurement of supplies such as pallets and picking carts are also part of the organizational activities. There are usually two causes for a higher basic time, which are considered in more detail during the analysis: incomplete, hard-to-read, unordered picking documents, as well as poorly structured provision of picking tools (search, repair, etc. required).
In addition to the basic time, the path time is also analyzed when optimizing the picking process. The travel time is the time required to cover the distance between two picks. The travel time usually comprises the majority of the total pick time. In the picking process optimization, path time can be reduced in the following ways: Bypassing incorrect path distances due to low local knowledge of storage locations. Increasing the concentration of items (if the "frontal area" per item on the shelf is reduced, the distance between two items is reduced), placing the most requested items at the beginning and in the middle of the shelf, combining picking of different single orders for one tour, using picking carts (for long lines).
In the analysis, the removal time is also considered. It includes activities such as taking items from the tray, i.e. gripping, grasping, removing, placing the item in the bin, the gripping time depends on the gripping height, the gripping depth, the weight, volume and sensitivity of the removed items, the type of delivery (bin, conveyor), the number of items to be taken and the dead time. The dead time, also called auxiliary time is considered to be optimized in the picking process and includes: searching for the storage location of the item, forming a break, checking, counting, comparing, performing marking (e.g. entry in storage compartment card). With suitable measures, the dead time can usually be reduced only slightly in the picking process optimization, among other things, through quick orientation thanks to good shelf labeling, processes for automatic counting, exemption from delivery of partial quantities, but only delivery of finished packages.
Considered in the manual picking process analyze picking systems such as, among others, goods-to-man workstation with pick-by-light displays, goods-to-person systems; so-called dynamic provision = dynamic picking, person-to-goods systems; so-called static provision = static picking, procedures for picking, picking by means of picking tickets, picking with pick-by-light, picking with pick-by-voice, picking with pick-by-vision.
Optimizing the picking process - A picking slip in the picking process (analyze)
After processing the pick list, the actual feedback in the warehouse management system begins. Due to misplacements, stock errors, wrong grips, etc., errors occur in the picking process, which on the one hand complicate the subsequent processes (e.g. production) and on the other hand lead to inventory discrepancies, now during the picking process analyze measures are developed to avoid these errors. In order to guide the warehouse worker to the right place and to ensure the picking of the correct material, different methods of automatic identification and data collection are therefore used, e.g. picking with barcode scanner shelf storage, barcode, etc., in which direction it goes is determined in the picking process optimize.
In the picking process analyze is also considered, for example, the pick-by-scan method. In this case, the picking list is displayed on a PDA. When picking and storing goods, the barcode of the respective product and the barcode of the corresponding storage bin are scanned. In this way, the item and the storage bin are assigned correctly. This technique is therefore also applicable in the context of dynamic putaways. The Pick-by-Scan procedure is also suitable for assigning goods to orders and serves as a control to avoid incorrect deliveries of goods.
When analyzing the picking process, picking vehicles are also considered. Here, for example, picking vehicles are suggested that recognize the respective rack aisle and the position in the aisle. Furthermore, the current height of the picking cabin is determined. In this way, the orders from the warehouse control system are not only displayed on a single terminal in the corresponding vehicle, but are also forwarded to the vehicle control system. The control system determines the destination according to the known actual and target coordinates. The driver of the vehicle initiates the destination arrival and is automatically guided to the targeted storage location.
The warehouse management system determines the sequence of picks. When the target position is reached, an appropriate signal is given. Afterwards, it requires a manual feedback to the warehouse management system.
There are various approaches to optimize the process. Automatic, using motion mining to analyze the process and optimize it quickly and easily, uncovering hidden efficiency potential and obtaining individual measures for your processes.
Seamlessly integrate our Motion-Mining® hardware into your work processes to capture activity and motion data from your employees and vehicles. Evaluate them visually with our AI-powered MPI software.
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