Warehouse Management Basics-Wave Picking

Productivity and accuracy in fulfillment are two constant challenges in today’s distribution centers (DC). As the Amazon affect begins to make every company a multi-channel fulfillment company, knowing if you are picking the right order or, more importantly, picking the order in the right way becomes an important determinant in the overall productivity of your operations.

At a macro there are two basic pick methodologies – Process Based Picking and Layout Based Picking. Process Based Picking focuses on how the order is picked while layout based picking focuses on how the pick area is organized and operational flow.

Wave/Cluster Picking. An extension of discrete picking is cluster or wave picking. With Wave Picking, multiple orders are grouped into small groups or waves. An order picker will pick all orders within the wave in one pass using a consolidated pick list.  Usually the picker will use a multi-tiered picking cart maintaining a separate tote or carton on the cart for each order.  Wave sizes usually run from 4 to 12 orders per wave depending on the average picks per order in that specific operation. In operations with low picks per order, Wave Picking can greatly reduce travel time by allowing the picker to make additional picks while in the same area. In high volume operations, Wave Picking is often used in conjunction with zone picking and automated material handling equipment.  In order to get maximum productivity in wave pick operations, orders must be accumulated in the system until there are enough similar picks to create the waves.  This delay in processing may not be acceptable in same day shipping operations

To help maintain labor productivity and order integrity, wave picking requires more analysis in the type of handling cart used in the pick process. For example, an operator picking a wave with 4 orders would require a pick cart or pallet setup to stage 4 cartons or totes that are easily accessible to the operator. This planning is simple if you are working with 4 small cartons, however if the boxes are larger or you have more orders in the wave, the planning and cart design becomes more complex. Additionally, pick cart design will have an impact on space requirements or availability. When picking one discrete order to a carton, aisle width is not a major consideration. However, when wave picking multiple orders, pick carts will require more maneuvering space and typically largest pick path aisles.

The wave pick process is the same as the discrete pick. The operator is directed to each bin in sequence, and told the product, packsize and quantity to pick. You pick the required product, and scan its barcode label. You are then told the carton number into which to pack the product. You place the items into this carton, and scan the label for that carton. Finally, you enter the quantity of product you picked. You are then directed to the next pick which could be another pick for the same item to a different order in your wave, and the process is repeated, until you have picked and packed all orders in your wave. The primary benefit of wave picking is reduced travel time associated per order. For example picking four orders on one pick tour (in a wave) would reduced the average travel time associated to each order by up to 75%. Factoring in the ability to pick the same item for multiple orders while at the location will reduce associated average travel time per order even more.

Cartonization is a companion to wave picking. Cartonization automatically determines the number of shipping cartons required for a single order based on product and carton dimensions. It also takes into account the weight tolerance of both cartons and shippers. Pickers are then instructed to place product into the specific shipping carton that was pre‐determined by the cartonization function.

The advantage of cartonization is that orders being shipped by common carriers like UPS or FedEx can be picked into their final, labeled shipping containers. Even if there are multiple boxes on a shipment, there is no need to consolidate the order in a staging area prior to shipment.

With the right system in place, you can select individual products you want to pick, usually from a previously-picked collection of items, and pack them in the sequence that you choose, rather than in the sequence of bins. In this method, you identify the product to pack and the system prompts you with the quantities and cartons required for each order in the wave.

This method is typically used in a Batch or Replenishment Pick process where it is not feasible to bring cartons through aisles, or in which it is more efficient to split up picking and packing functions between two or more people. It can also be used to allow experienced pickers to pack orders correctly the first time (for example, by packing the largest items at the bottom of the cartons, etc.) without having to re-pack them later.

Keep these objectives in mind as you develop your overall picking strategy:

Keep pickers picking…not waiting…Keep a queue of orders and/or products available to the picker. This requires an effective replenishment strategy if you are using a forward pick/reserve storage layout.

Keep pickers picking…and not doing non-pick tasks…Do not bog pickers down with other tasks such as carton erection and taping, labeling, wrapping, adding dunnage, etc. Pickers are typically your most skilled warehouse resource.

Minimize product touches…Ideally, it is best to design your pick process so that there is sufficient accuracy at the time of picking to eliminate the need for subsequent checking and repacking. Each unit of product is touched only by the pickers’ hands before the carton is sealed and transported to an outbound truck.

Minimize travel…Pick from both sides of the aisle from properly sized pick modules. Unused space between pick modules and pick lanes can unnecessarily lengthen a pick path. Segregate slow movers from fast moving SKUs to avoid repetitive, unproductive travel past them when not needed.

Consider picking very slow moving SKUs from reserve storage rather than forward pick bins. Seek opportunities to batch pick many smaller orders in one trip. Pick all one-line, single-piece orders together since no sorting is necessary to break them down into a discrete order level.

Learn more about Warehouse Management Systems:

Wave Picking Functionally in WMS

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), are designed to maximize the efficient movement of inventory to ensure that you are receiving, picking, packing and shipping the correct product each time to your customers.  There are numerous functionality components to WMS.  This brief post will discuss Wave Picking in Exploring Warehouse Technology.

Once an order is ready to pick, it may be issued for picking using the Wave function.

The warehouse manager will typically sort and select order groups for picking using the Sales Order Grid, then issue the orders for picking using the Wave function.   As a result, warehouse managers have unlimited flexibility when determining their picking strategies:

• Order lines may be split by pack-size for optimal productivity (pallet quantities picked from pallet locations, units from pick-bins).

• Customer specific labels may be printed for EDI / ASN compliance and integrated into the pick process. UCC128 serial container codes are created and scanned to build a detailed pallet or carton level ASNs.

• Orders may be grouped together for picking directly into serialized shipping cartons.

• Batch pick documents may be issued to enable the picking of multiple orders simultaneously with subsequent break-down in an order staging area.

• Paper pick-tickets may be printed for paper picking, with scanpack validation.

• Pick documents may be printed in multiple zones for simultaneous zone picking.

• One label per unit/carton/pallet may be printed with a bin location for ‘label picking’

Once the pick strategy has been determined, Accellos One Warehouse will print picking documents according to the configured rules; pickers will be directed to the pre-assigned pick locations that were automatically assigned during the allocation process.

To guarantee accuracy, hand held computers should be used during the picking process to validate the picked product and its bin location as well as the shipping container / sales order.

Finally, packing slips are printed as a result of the workflow defined in Accellos One Warehouse.  Packing slips may be printed after the last item on the order has been picked or once the shipment has been scanned before loading on to a truck.

Download the complete guide:  “The Top Ten Warehouse Management Systems Features

Visit our  site on Warehouse Management Systems

 

Deep Dive into Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) Functionality and Modules-Wave Planning:

Designed to provide a flexible, user configurable method to build waves of orders to be picked in the warehouse: wave planning is a critical feature in any Warehouse Management System (WMS). Once an order is ready to pick, it may be issued for picking using the Wave function.

The warehouse manager will typically sort and select order groups for picking using a sales order management function, then issue the orders for picking using the wave function. As a result, warehouse managers have unlimited flexibility when determining their picking strategies.  Such as:

  • Order lines may be split by pack-size for optimal productivity (pallet quantities picked from pallet locations, units from pick-bins)
  • Customer specific labels may be printed for EDI / ASN compliance and integrated into the pick process. UCC128 serial container codes are created and scanned to build a detailed pallet or carton level ASNs.
  • Orders may be grouped together for picking directly into serialized shipping cartons.
  • Batch pick documents may be issued to enable the picking of multiple orders simultaneously with subsequent break-down in an order staging area.
  • Paper pick-tickets may be printed for paper picking, with scanpack validation.
  • Pick documents may be printed in multiple zones for simultaneous zone picking.
  • One label per unit/carton/pallet may be printed with a bin location for ‘label picking’

Once the pick strategy has been determined, a Warehouse Management System will print picking documents according to the configured rules; pickers will be directed to the pre-assigned pick locations that were automatically assigned during the allocation process.

To guarantee accuracy, hand held computers should be used during the picking process to validate the picked product and its bin location as well as the shipping container / sales order.

Finally, packing slips are printed as a result of the workflow defined in Accellos One Warehouse.  Packing slips may be printed after the last item on the order has been picked or once the shipment has been scanned before loading on to a truck.

Some Wave Planning Features in WMS Software could include:

  • Waving from HH (Hand Held) or Web
  • Printing Pick Tickets, Compliance Labels
  • Calculate Number of Labels and print based on Zone,
  • Generate Wave Labels, Pre-Packslip Labels, Packing Planner Labels,
  • Paper Pick Tickets
  • Pack & Hold, Ship With Other Goods

WAVE PICKING:

The Wave Picking function allows a picker to gather multiple orders simultaneously on a pick run. Orders are picked directly into serialized shipping cartons.

The advantage of Wave Picking is that orders are picked and packed and checked in a single handling step using bar code scanners.

Wave picking is very effective for operations that pick to cart when there is an average of one or two shipping cartons per order. It is also effective for high volume operations that pick product out of flow racking to conveyor belts that whisk away boxes after they have been filled.

CARTONIZATION:

The cartonization function is a companion to wave picking. Cartonization automatically determines the number of shipping cartons required for a single order based on product and carton dimensions. It also takes into account the weight tolerance of both cartons and shippers. Pickers are then instructed to place product into the specific shipping carton that was pre-determined by the cartonization function.

The advantage of cartonization is that orders being shipped by common carriers like UPS or FedEx can be picked into their final, labeled shipping containers. Even if there are multiple boxes on a shipment, there is no need to consolidate the order in a staging area prior to shipment.

In addition, warehouses may be configured to automatically ship and manifest sales orders without any additional physical handling by shipping staff

BATCH PICKING:

There is a subtle difference between Batch Picking and Wave Picking. Rather than picking multiple orders directly into shipping cartons, Batch Picking does not prompt the picker to specify the sales order during the gathering process. The result is a “Batch” of product for multiple orders is gathered, and then sits in a staging area until distributed into the individual order pallets or cartons for shipment.

The advantage of Batch Picking is that more product cube can be gathered in a single pass of the warehouse. However, warehouses need to ensure that they have enough space to stage the orders that have been batch picked.

Batch picking is effective for operations that will benefit from maximizing order consolidation, especially in larger warehouses where the amount of travelling required to gather orders would be substantially decreased by maximizing the cube gathered in a single pass. Operations with limited picking equipment resources (like man-up or narrow-aisle equipment) should consider batch picking to maximize equipment utilization.

SIMULTANEOUS AND SEQUENTIAL ZONE PICKING:

Warehouses may be broken down into logical areas or zones. The picking function can be set up to span multiple zones, allowing the operation to have multiple pickers picking the same orders either simultaneously or sequentially. Zones may be set up in warehouse for many different reasons.

  • Materials handling infrastructure -Pallet racks in one zone, static shelving in another
  • Product Classification – Flammables in one zone, durables in another
  • Item Segregation – Customer specific packaging configurations, defective products, refurbished product.
  • ABC stratification – Separate fast moving items from slower moving items to allow multiple picking styles (Batch pick ‘C&D’ items, Wave pick ‘A’ items).
  • Load balancing – Multiple zones set up across a stretch of picking area (like flow-racking).

Next Steps: Visit our Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) Page for further WMS Functionality

Contact Us: With any questions, request a demo, receive a free estimate or just WMS systems questions

Posted ByiCepts Technology Group, Inc.-An Accellos One Warehouse Management Systems Partner in Pennsylvania

Increase Supply Chain Visibility through Accellos One Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)

Accellos warehouse management system (WMS) integrates seamlessly with many popular accounting/order-entry packages and shipping systems to provide the warehouse link in a total supply chain solution. By integrating with leading accounting packages, warehouse automation equipment and shipping systems, you connect your warehouse to the rest of your supply chain. The seamless transfer of information between your systems means more efficient invoicing, order tracking and purchasing for your distribution operation.

Streamline your warehouse processes. By using the latest in Radio Frequency (RF), RFID and barcode technology to automate your warehouse processes, you can find, pick and pack inventory in the most efficient manner possible. This means that you will be shipping the right items, in the right cartons, to the right customers, on time, every time from your warehouse. Inventory accuracy is key.

Improve your customer service. By giving your customer service staff, sales team and even your customers a window into the warehouse using web-based warehouse management system technology, you allow them to track and trace the status of inventory and orders resulting in fewer customer calls and better managed sales expectations.

Find out more at: www.icepts.com/WMS or info@icepts.com