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Top 10 considerations when choosing your method of Picking Sales Orders

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Top 10 considerations when choosing your method of Picking Sales Orders

There are at least 10 different methods of picking sales orders.  Picking by Zone – Batch – Single Order – Pick n Pass – Parallel – Directed Picking – Wave – Pick to Light – Voice Picking – Carousel … are some of the most common options!  All with differing effectiveness based on your unique environment, processes and requirements.  Here are the Top 10 considerations when choosing the method of Picking Sales Orders that will suite your company best …

  1. Sales Order Frequency and Seasonality:  What is your volume of Sales Orders?  Measured by orders per day or week.  Do you have peaks in the day?  Do you have seasonality?  A Client who does 70% of their business during the 4th Quarter holiday may need a different method of picking then the one with a steady order flow.
  2. Availability of Inventory:  Is it make-to-order?  Make-to-stock?  JIT (just-in-time) inventory?  Do you convert bulk to finished goods?  Do you kit on the fly?  How prohibitive is the cost of carrying “extra” inventory relative to the other costs of your business, such as partial shipments with backorders?  Do you have the ability to substitute items to complete your orders?
  3. Shipping Windows:  What window of available time do you have between locking down sales orders and shipping?  Are there critical cut-offs from carriers such as Fed-ex or UPS 5pm pickup?  What flexibility in labor resources do you have to allocate to “tight” windows?
  4. Stock Rotation and Turns:  How many inventory turns are you trying to achieve?  And in terms of stock rotation, do you need LIFO, FIFO or FEFO (First Expired, First Out) or some combination based on in-transit time?
  5. Size and Shape of Items and Pallet Rules:  What is the size or shape of your items?  Are they easily breakable?  How easily can they be stacked on a pallet?  Are they better positioned as the first layer?  Or the top layer of a pallet?
  6. Picking Rules:  To what degree are you able to mix items on a pallet?   Do you have rules/requirements around proper layering of each pallet?  How do you allocate available inventory against orders?  Can the orders be staged in a location near shipping?  Do you have Zones?  And overstock with forward picking locations?
  7. Shipping Costs Relative to Total Costs:  What are the shipping cost ramifications?  Are you trying to fill boxes or pallets of a certain size?  Are you loading onto a container for overseas shipments?  Do you need help fitting cubic dimensions?  And can you benefit from cartonization tools?
  8. Space Constraints:  What are your warehouse space constraints?  Can you benefit from racking?  conveyors or carousels?  Does racking drive you toward heavy equipment purchases such as pallet jacks, forklifts and cherry pickers?  Is your operation utilizing multiple warehouses or zones?  What are your inventory bins, aisles, racking or overall configuration doing to effect foot traffic?  Can you consolidate remote (overflow) sites?
  9. Government or Industry Regulations:  Do you have HAZMAT requirements?  Or Food Allergens?  Or Special Customer Requirements in terms of palletization? Or weight? Or documents that need printing such as Bill of Lading (BOL), Packing List or Customer specific labels?
  10. Vendor Compliance:  How difficult would it be to drive your vendors toward a common barcode labeling strategy or format such as GS1 (a Global Standard barcode containing fields for Item, Lot, UOM, Vendor, Qty)?  UCC 128? Or Code 39?  Have you considered software to enable mobile automation to reduce data entry and human error?  And a related consideration around the need for Lot tracking or Serialization associated with Traceability throughout your Supply Chain.  Can License Plate technology be deployed to assist in automation of your “paper processes” and workflows?

These are your Top 10 considerations when choosing your method for Picking Sales Orders, but there are clearly others.  Assessing these 10 first will get you well on your way to choosing a method for Picking Sales Orders that works well for you and your environment.

Engaging Supply Chain experts is imperative because there are at least 10 different ways to Pick your sales orders through a Warehouse Management Solution (WMS) such as Appolis WithoutWire™ WoW WMS.  We invite you to consult our experts as you consider picking methods such as:  Zone – Batch – Single Order – Pick n Pass – Parallel – Directed Picking – Wave – Pick to Light – Voice Picking – Carousel … so that we can help you optimize and select the best fit for your environment!

At Appolis, we are ready to help you answer these tough questions, so that you can automate and optimize your processes and workflows and realize a Return on your Investment (ROI) within 8 to 12 months!

By Steve Dwyer, Vice President, Appolis

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3 questions

  1. Abra Gilman says:

    Thanks for combining all of these ‘schools of thought’ when it comes to fulfilling orders! What a great resource!

  2. It is nice to consider methods when picking sales order.

  3. Appolis, Inc. says:

    You are correct. It is worth spending some time to consider best practices in the industry. Constraints tend to fall into 3 areas: Physical space, unique process flows or time availability based on hitting shipping cutoffs. And now, for the less rugged environments, we can even leverage iPhones, iPads, Androids and Windows 8 tablets. See our video on Remote Inventory Receiving, Consumption (picking) and Just-in-Time Replenishment!

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