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.
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.
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).