Pick and pack is a pivotal process in warehousing. It determines how individual assets in an order are selected from master crates and separated into their respective boxes, containers and envelopes. This accounts for up to 60% of warehouse labor hours and 50% of costs, which means time is money.
In order to make their fulfillment centers more cost effective, shipping companies work hard to optimize the efficiency rating of their pick and pack processes. This helps to lower picking costs, increase accuracy and reduce labor costs. It’s imperative that e-commerce orders are handled accurately and quickly.
Traditional pick and pack, which is often done using sheets printed from an ERP or WMS with fixed or optimized route’s for the pickers.
Pros: Low entry costs, minimal capital outlay
Cons: slower than tech-enabled processes, error-prone, lacks accountability
Radio Frequency (RF) Picking
RF picking has grown into the industry standard because it allows pickers to use portable handheld or truck-mounted devices that use bar code scanners and radio transmitters to create real-time data collection and transference.
Pros: Versatile, allows multi-tasking, much faster than traditional picking and increased accuracy, cost-effective
Cons: Slower and less accurate compared to more advanced picking technologies
Visual logistics takes RF picking a step further, adding text and images to the on-screen instructions that are more comprehensive and easier to read than the traditional plain text.
Pros: Faster and more accurate than traditional RF picking, cheaper than pick-to-light and voice-directed picking
Cons: Lacks speed and accuracy compared to more advanced picking technologies
Pick to Light
Installed light displays in fixed pick locations, such as flow and storage racks and shelving units help operators to highlight specific units when attempting to confirm a pick task. Can also be used for reverse picking.
Pros: Extremely fast with increased accuracy from visual logistics and RF technologies
Voice Directed Picking
Using this system, operators are able to communicate directly with a software interface in real-time. This allows them to receive instructions directly from the source of the information, improving accuracy and speed of picking.
Pros: Highest productivity and speed rating in its class and cheaper than pick-to-light systems, cost of system scales with size of business
Cons: Data capture not fully developed, lacks multi-functional capabilities
Choosing a pick and pack system that fits your company can be difficult, but it’s a crucial one nonetheless. Make sure to consider all major factors (accuracy, cost, speed) when making your decision, but look at them through your company’s lens. What works for one warehouse isn’t always guaranteed to work for the next.