Gone are the days where warehouses saw multiple workers crowded around a belt, placing SKUs on products and referring to inventory sheets. With today’s Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), industrial computers have taken over the bulk of SKU tracking and allowed for picking to become the dominant money sink, taking up as much as 63% of the operating costs of a typical warehouse according to Georgia Tech.
While a rise in automation has lead to a decrease in total warehouse operating costs, the burgeoning operating cost of picking cannot be ignored. Optimizing your picking systems is more crucial to the overall productivity of your warehouse than ever before.
Schools Of Picking
There’s no one way to optimize picking for every warehouse, but there are several competing schools of thought regarding picking that may serve your warehouse’s specific needs.
Waves picking is a style of picking that is not optimized for the shortest route length possible, but instead other parameters. These “waves” could include things such as intended delivery date, picking zones, delivery location, and other sets that to fit your warehouse’s logistics and deployed by your WMS.
In batch picking, a group of orders is combined into one order through the WMS in order to minimize the amount of repeat trips needed. Instead of a picker needing to go back to the same line multiple times, they can simply receive one order for multiple items and save a drastic amount of time.
As the name implies, cluster picking allows a worker to pick for multiple orders at once by utilizing a cart or basket with slots for multiple orders in a “cluster.” These orders can be assigned by your WMS for optimized pathing, enabling a picker to collect multiple orders at once.
One thing all the picking styles have in common is their use of a WMS running on an industrial computer to make decisions for the warehouse. Each warehouse is unique, and different picking methods should be deployed and tested to see which optimizes routes for time and productivity. Industrial computer tablets can help optimize your picking, allowing workers instant access to inventory, picking jobs, and warehouse updates.
Industrial computer tablets are rugged, easy-to-carry devices that enable your pickers to access tasks from the WMS on the move. Industrial computer tablets can come with built in barcode scanners for instant SKU sorting and tracking, and can withstand temperatures from -4° to 140°F so that even your refrigerated facility can benefit from industrial computer tablet use. Some even come ready out of the box for forklift and warehouse vehicle mounting.
Industrial Computer Tablets: A Picker’s Best Friend
Whatever school of picking you decide to employ in your warehouse, industrial computer tablets can help your pickers make the most of their work day. With picking costs making up the majority of the operating costs of contemporary warehouses, getting the most productivity possible from your pickers is crucial to creating a profitable enterprise.