Picking is a specific task—and a very important one—that takes place in every fulfillment warehouse. But picking is also common to our daily lives. Think about a typical a trip to the grocery store: when you go shopping, you push your cart down the aisles and fill it with the items you need, and then you head to the checkout counter.
Now, what if you are also shopping for a friend? There are two shopping lists. You need bread, peanut butter, cereal, and apples. Your friend needs milk, pasta, cereal, and apples. You could shop one list a time, but then you’d be doubling back for items—and the milk and pasta are at opposite ends of the store. You’re better off planning a route through the store to get all eight items in the shortest amount of time.
And now, what if you are shopping with a friend? Or ten friends throwing a party together? Do you all work off your own lists? Or do you combine some tasks, divide others, and sort it all out at checkout?
That, my friends, is the picking predicament.
The job of picking in a warehouse is not the most glamorous, but it is crucial to the success of any e-commerce business. People walk for hours up and down aisles in search of items to fill customers’ orders, and accuracy is key. For fulfillment centers, this walking time is one of the biggest expenses. That’s why most centers employ different picking strategies, including:
In batch picking, groups of orders are picked at the same time to minimize repeat visits to the same bin location. If 30 separate orders each contain one beach ball, 30 beach balls are picked at once, and then sorted by order.
In wave picking, pickers prepare each order line-by-line, but instead of compiling orders as they come in, all orders are evaluated by the order management system to maximize picking and shipping operations. This allows for “waves” of orders to be compiled and shipped throughout the day, prioritized by time and importance.
Zone picking means that items (SKUs) are divided up into specific areas (or zones) in a warehouse, and a picker is assigned to each zone. When an order comes in, the picker fills the part of the order residing in that zone. Other pickers in other zones fill their parts, and everything goes to the sorting area to be pieced together.
Which picking method is best for your e-commerce business? That’s where we come in.
We developed our next-generation Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) mobile automation solution as a way to maximize productivity and fulfill orders up to five times faster.
When you partner with inVia, we do an assessment of your current environment, workflows, and data, and input that information into our system to develop a customized design for your business. Our robots map your warehouse and select the most efficient routes to items in real-time as orders arrive, using machine learning to constantly optimize the fulfillment process. We can even have you up and running in a matter of weeks with no big upfront costs, no disruption to your fulfillment process, and no new infrastructure requirements using our simple five-step process.
To learn more about how inVia Robotics’ can help your business run faster and smarter, contact our sales team today.