Many warehouse operations see the picking and packing processes follow on from one another - the items are picked, and then they are packed. For most companies, most of the outgoings within a warehousing operation go towards staffing, so it would be prudent to consider ways to optimise your workforce and processes for maximum efficiency.
In some cases, this process of picking then packing may not actually be the best approach.
Traditionally the picking process is pick-pack-label-send. With batch picking and discrete picking, for example, you would create a consolidated picking list and then either batch pick or individually pick the items from the different orders. When the items are transferred over to a packing desk, there is the potential of them being mixed up and need to be picked all over again and sorted to be packed into the right orders – making it inefficient. In some ways these picking methods necessitate that the orders are picked twice before packing, increasing the workload and wasting valuable time.
Combined pick and pack for warehouse efficiency
A good warehouse management system (WMS) will have a built-in cartonisation function that enables carton picking. It is a more effective practice as it works on the principle of reducing the amount of distance covered in the warehouse when picking. This functionality can help you identify the optimal box, envelope or package size for every order. And it can be further improved with the use of sets of standard envelopes and boxes for packing.
This method means the goods only need to be handled once because the trolley is setup before picking. It can be prepared with the appropriate packaging, where each is already labelled with the details of the recipient. Then, during the picking process, each order is packed directly into its packaging. This way, the goods are only handled once, which saves time and effort. It also reduces time spent moving around the warehouse as each bin location only needs to be visited once before moving onto the next one. It is far more efficient than the batch and discrete picking techniques where you pick all the orders first, then have to re-sort them before they can be packed appropriately.
The process becomes: Label-Pick-Send
This method is most effective when you have precise, detailed weights and measurements for all your goods. That information can be recorded within a warehouse management system. But even without that in place, companies can use rough dimensions to employ this method.
Why refine your picking and packing processes?
- Handle goods just once: a WMS with carrier integration, will enable packaging to be pre-labelled with the necessary information. Once items are picked they can be placed directly into the packaging.
- Larger order volumes can be handled: drop shipping has led to an increase in order volumes. With more orders to process, the carton picking method can help you stay on top of everything
- Optimise your workforce: with carton picking, you will need fewer people at the packing stage, so more can be deployed to picking and everything will be handled faster.
If you would like to improve your stock management and your pick and pack processes, WinMan ERP software can help. It has an integrated warehouse management function that can help you facilitate your warehouse operations and help improve efficiency and boost productivity.