Nowadays, it’s easy for a warehouse environment to get out of hand quickly. And when your operations get too difficult to manage, you lose efficiency, which can significantly impact customer satisfaction levels and your bottom line. When it comes to mastering your supply chain, order fulfillment is paramount.
From the time the order is created to the point at which it ships to its final destination, the order fulfillment and picking processes are the most vital components of customer service at your warehouse. Order fulfillment and picking, however, aren’t exclusively attached to your supply chain management. These processes influence every aspect of your business. Let’s take a look at three common picking methods in detail and determine how Agility WMS from WiSys helps optimize each of these critical processes.
A general overview of the order fulfillment process
Most manufacturing and distribution centers follow a similar process. The order is initially placed through an automated eCommerce platform, warehouse management system (WMS), email, or phone. It is then uploaded into an enterprise resource system (ERP) or your preferred accounting software. The customer receives an automatically generated notice via text or email confirming the order is in process.
Once the order arrives at your warehouse, it is marked for picking. An operator picks it off the storage rack. In some instances, depending on the service you provide, picking may entail some kitting or minor assembly. After the order is packed, it must be labeled before it is shipped to its destination. While these details might seem rudimentary, they are worth mentioning because a warehouse management service provider can help you save time and money by realizing efficiency gains with each step.
How Agility WMS improves specific picking strategies
Aside from the general order fulfillment approach shared by most warehousing facilities, several common picking methods can be enhanced considerably by a WMS. Let’s explore three main order fulfillment strategies in further detail below and identify how a warehouse management system like Agility Essentials improves them.
Zone order picking – Under this approach, operators are assigned to specific zones. They pick orders from these physical areas. Order pickers are responsible for their respective zones where they identify relevant items by their SKUs. Orders that pass through multiple zones undergo a pick-and-pass process until assembly is complete. Zone picking is ideal for shift-based operators in larger warehouses that are in the process of expanding. The designated cutoff times mean that workers cycle through their shifts more readily.
Agility WMS enhances zone picking efficiency by determining how many orders can be picked per shift, moving large and small orders around to match your current staffing models. If you run a shift-based warehouse, automating your zone picking strategy with a WMS will lead to significant productivity gains while easing the staffing management process at the same time.
Discrete order picking – Among the most common order fulfillment strategies, discrete order involves one operator picking a single order on a single line. Each employee receives an initial request and gets another one from the master list after the current order is packed and prepared for shipment. Warehouses in their early stages usually follow this approach, and, for the most part, orders can’t be prescheduled for specific picking times.
Discrete order picking is easy to track, but it’s also one of the slowest and most resource-intensive processes. Agility WMS provides warehouses that depend on discrete order picking with a system to prioritize orders or make adjustments to your warehouse layout to maximize operator productivity as they select and pack goods for distribution.
Cluster picking – This method involves a team of operators that picks from several storage containers at once, gathering a cluster of items from an order batch. The cluster picking approach prioritizes the fulfillment of multiple orders across different locations. This picking strategy is only effective in warehouses that distribute large quantities of goods at once, and this picking system requires large warehouses with open interior spaces.
Agility WMS leverages automation to enhance cluster picking. Automated warehouse management tools increase picking speed and simplify the entire order fulfillment process by making it easier to verify each order. A WMS lets you do away with manual checking procedures because it automatically verifies the items after they’re combined.
Reduce warehouse complexity with Agility Essentials
A well-implemented WMS solution lets you combine various shipping strategies while enabling your warehouse to focus on managing multiple orders continuously. We engineered our Agility Essentials WMS as an out-of-the-box solution for SAP Business One ERP systems. An adaptable and scalable warehouse management system, Agility Essentials fully integrates with SAP Business One warehouses, is easy to install and configure, and allows you to regain immediate control of your storage and distribution centers.
For more information on how we help businesses like yours find real-time visibility into their operations and increase productivity on the warehouse floor, fill out a new customer inquiry on our site or dial 770-955-3550 to speak with an expert consultant today.