Park Logisitics - Creating Supply Chain Solutions

Park Logistics - Creating supply Chain Solutions

Creating Supply Chain Solutions
Warehousing - Distribution - Fulfilment - Co-Pack

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ORDER PICKING – Perils of poor picking – Slick order picking sorts the quick from the dead

Logistics pundits claim that it is not companies that compete but their supply chains. The world’s number one clothing retailer, Zara, for example, believes that speed and responsiveness are more important than product cost. While a truncated version of the truth, there can be no doubt that time to market is pivotal for success and in that respect order picking, usually the most costly part of warehousing, separates the quick from the dead. But for order picking to be the best it must not only be quick and flexible but also highly accurate. Woe betide any distribution business with high returns rates owing to picking errors because not only are these very costly to process they risk loss of future business through customer ire. The anger would be further compounded if the seller sent something different because the ordered item was out of stock or discontinued without telling the buyer.

chazA key enabler of fast order response time is voice picking, now edging ahead of other assisted order picking means, like pick-to-light and hand-held RDTs. As a hands and eyes-free system it can boost order picking productivity by 100% or more than a paper-based method, as well as deliver greater picking accuracy. But a key comforting factor in any choice of a voice-based picking system is the willingness of the provider to do a pilot scheme for the buyer, as topVox found when quoting for Bartlett, north-east America’s largest fresh milk distributor. Most voice picking suppliers will not do that, but a site visit to another user could be the second best thing.

Part of an order picking’s efficiency, however, also involves how quickly orders can be brought to the picking face, while other factors, like density of the storage cube, will also have implications for running costs, like energy, rents, rates and initial construction costs. These factors are of growing importance because the changing nature of shopping, evinced by the remorseless rise in e-tailing, is shaking up the way distribution centres are run. Consumer demand for home delivery is soaring and that means much more investment in warehouse automation, but it should be both fast and as flexible as possible.

Good examples of this are the OSR Shuttle System from Knapp group and SSI Schaefer’s Fulfilment Factory devised primarily for e-commerce operations. Knapp’s system features an independent shuttle on every level of the storage cube served by dedicated lifts at the aisle ends. Knapp claims that it achieves up to six times the rate of totes in/out than a traditional ASRS system, while occupying 20% less footprint and using only 5% of the energy consumption.

SSI Schaefer’s Fulfilment Factory is a picking and sortation system offering the additional dimension of sequencing of order items so that different elements, or lines, of an order can be picked over a period in different areas of the warehouse, then held and delivered together to one packing station. This has the obvious advantage of being able to consolidate all items into one package as well as being able to prioritize packing of picked order items. Another of Schaefer’s sorting and sequencing systems is its TraySystem/Case Picking approach, designed to provide fast, simultaneous access to a large number of product cases, via automatic picking and pallet building. This satisfies the wishes of many retail operations demanding frequent and efficient store and aisle-friendly replenishment.

“If companies are not willing to invest in appropriate picking processes,” says Linde Materials Handling, “productivity rates decrease significantly, as well as increased congestion in busy picking areas.”

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