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Five Ways To Increase Picking Productivity

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Organizations often implement new picking techniques, new order picking equipment or new processes in an attempt to gain productivity in their operations. While these endeavors are successful and lead to big jumps in productivity, there are ways to achieve smaller productivity gains without revising your entire picking operations. Here are five ways you can improve productivity in your industrial material picking operation today.

Slot Your Parts. A fast moving SKU can become a slow moving SKU next month. Matching the part by velocity, size and stored quantity to the storage location can increase productivity. Often organizations fail to reorganize parts as order profiles change and the slower moving SKUs end up stored in the prime picking locations while faster moving SKUs are added to inventory and stored less accessible locations. By re-slotting SKUs on a regular basis picking times can be improved.

Utilize The Golden Zone. Make sure fast moving SKUs are accessible and require minimal effort from the worker to picked. This means making sure that the majority of picks a worker makes are located in the golden zone; the area between a workers knees and shoulders. This minimizes the worker reaching, bending and lifting that leads to worker fatigue. Picking from the golden zone not only increases a workers picking speed, but with less fatigue pick accuracy will also improve.

Batch Picking. Picking more than one order at a time can increase productivity substantially. Switching from the one to one grocery cart picking concept to a batch picking concept can be achieved with batch picking push carts. Having workers pick more than one order at a time will utilize the workers time more effectively and can increase productivity.

Keep It Simple. Organizations often over complicate the picking process. While getting the right part to the right place at the right time can be a challenge it’s important to remember to keep it as simple. Special rules and multiple steps leave room for error. Instead keep the process simple and streamlined, leaving less room for mistakes.

Review & Ask Why. Review your picking and replenishment processes and ask yourself why you do things the way you do. You may find there are steps in processes that were implemented some time ago and no longer have merit. We’re creatures of habit and do things because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’. Is your process the same today as it was a year ago?... Does it still make sense? Subjecting your picking and replenishment process to continual review allows you to make smaller adjustments occasionally instead of a large picking overhaul that is disruptive to your operation.

You’ve exhausted these productivity concepts and need more productivity? For major productivity gains, consider integrating order picking equipment from Kardex Remstar into your order picking operations. Horizontal carousels, vertical lift modules and vertical carousels can increase productivity up to 2/3, save up to 85% floor space and increase order accuracy to 99.9%.

Kardex Remstar, LLC, a company of the Kardex Group is a leading provider of automated storage and retrieval systems for manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, offices and institutions. For information on automated storage and retrieval systems, call 800/639-5805 or visit www.KardexRemstar.com.

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