When it comes to improving the pick and pack process, there are three big questions to consider:
- How can we speed the process up?
- How can we keep costs down?
- How can we add more value and keep our customers happy?
When these questions are successfully answered, the results are tremendous. Fast, efficient pick/pack functions delight customers (which leads to more sales) and save money for the whole company.
The exciting news about picking parts is that technology makes it a lot easier to answer those three big questions. Here’s how:
Visual logistics reduce confusion
The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” might be an understatement. Studies show that visual information can be processed 60,000 times faster than text and is easier to remember. That’s why many organizations looking to speed the picking function have turned to visual logistics. Visual logistics systems display product pictures, quantities, and rack/shelf/bin location images on handheld computers. Visual systems communicate more information to operators quickly, helping them find and pull products faster.
Voice-directed picking frees operators to focus
It’s not just about using your eyes—voice directed picking systems use headsets and microphones to help operators keep their eyes and hands free. As the software system directs operators to their next pick task, a random check digit is generated by the system and spoken by the operator. This provides a level of verification that has been proven to reduce “wrong item” errors. In switching to voice-directed picking, some users have increased their speed by up to 35%.
Data collection and analysis improves physical organization
A number of organizational principles can be put in place to reduce pick times. The fact that reducing travel time improves productivity is intuitive—the best way to reduce travel time is less obvious. That’s why it’s essential to gather data on how often each SKU is picked, how long it takes, and whether or not sets of SKUs are frequently picked together. This data allows effective batches and clusters to be created.
Barcode scanners are the place to start
If you’re currently using paper pick lists and are looking to upgrade, barcode scanning technology is a great place to start. It is relatively inexpensive, and the technology can be applied to other areas of your operation (not just picking). The results are impressive—using barcode scanners, operators frequently achieve pick accuracy over 99.5%.
It takes connectivity
All of these technological solutions rely on a connected, comprehensive management system to direct your picking functions. That’s where the SMS Group comes in. The SMS Group partners with manufacturing and warehousing organizations looking to use technology to improve efficiency. To learn more, give us a call at 937-498-2700 or fill a contact form.