Picking and Packing Management
This is one of the most important sectors of the cargo handling process in storage units.
There is some confusion when we use the expressions picking (escolhendo, in Portuguese) and packing (embalando). It is important to make it clear that we are talking about different but interconnected subjects. Picking is one of the operations in the Logistics sector where goods are separated to be sent to customers. But before shipping these products need to go through the packing sector, where the package of what was ordered is done. In short, picking = sorting, packing = packing. It was clear? Excellent! So let’s get to work.
There are many ways to do the separation of products in warehouses and distribution centers. See some of them now:
- Discrete picking : when the operation is carried out entirely by a single employee, who takes care of that specific order from beginning to end of the process;
- Picking by zone, area or department : when the process is divided into zones and each employee serves a single SKU (Stock Keeping Unit, in other words, it is the code of each product, used to organize what is stored). It is indicated for stores with high quantities of products and high demand for orders.
- Batch picking : when a batch is built by several SKUs and each employee serves a batch with several SKUs. Thus, each employee is responsible for orders that have the same product. In this way, he optimizes his time and that of the operation in the warehouse.
- Picking by wave : when each employee serves a single SKU for a predetermined period of time or shift, to avoid accumulation of products in the shipment. It is similar to the Picking by Zone method. The difference is in the time limitation.
- Bucket Brigades : It is a strategy in which the team works in a synchronized way, as orders are finalized. It works like a continuous production line. When an operator finishes picking an order, it moves on to the next order that was started by another operator.
This is one of the most important sectors of the cargo handling process in storage units. The above methods can help improve operational performance, depending on the characteristics of each business. But the suggestions below, given by the SkyHub website, can also be very helpful. Follow along.
- Use Pareto’s Law — also known as the 80/20 rule, this principle is based on the thesis that 80% of the results achieved are the result of 20% of the efforts employed. But, in the picking area, Pareto’s Law allows us to conclude that 20% of the items traded correspond to 80% of the movements. That’s why the products with the highest turnover should be in positions that are easier for operators to access. It may be necessary to modify the layout of the warehouse.
- Keep adequate amounts of stock — you need to know the minimum time your suppliers take to replace each item you sell, as well as the average sales (orders) for each product. Greater control over your supply chain, including stock turnover, reliable records of the available quantity of each item and notions of stock replacement time are points that help to improve your perception of your business’s sales cycle and can drive improvements for picking management.
- Make products easy to see — organize the location of each item, if applicable. Shelves need to be addressed so that you can easily find any item following a predefined categorization.
- Forget paper forms — or at least take care of keeping all processes and information managed in an automated way. This process is fundamental to avoid making mistakes or prolonging too much a perception that should be simple. This involves the help of an ERP, but also other tools that support each stage of sales, such as receiving and managing orders and controlling inventory on all platforms where you sell. An integration tool with marketplaces is very useful to provide this visibility and direct a single stock for sales in multiple channels.
- Get rid of obsolete stock – the stock must be lean and some management concepts such as Just in Time, purchasing only when necessary, can adjust to your reality. Study the possibility of burning your margin, without compromising the business, to sell them at more attractive prices.
- Improve the speed of operation – data collectors, radiofrequency systems, better technologies and team involvement in management systems aimed at improving processes, such as the Kaizen Model (focused on the pursuit of continuous improvement), can boost the efficiency of your picking management. Kaizen can contribute to good team spirit, morale, self-discipline and insight with all professionals focused on improving quality and efficiency.
- Think about adopting cross docking – cross docking is an alternative that can reduce storage costs by around 25% when the operation of distributing products in the warehouse, from one truck to another, becomes just in the dock areas. This strategy is only indicated for those who have greater sales predictability.
The analysis of your company’s concrete case will define the most suitable picking model and the suggestions above can improve the management of this operational process. It is essential that the defined strategy seeks a balance between efficiency and agility. But before leaving the warehouse, the product needs to go through the packing sector, which is also very important. In fact, ideally, two areas (picking and packing) should be close to each other. No customer wants to receive a broken product due to flaws in the packaging. Therefore, below are some of the main techniques used in this sector, indicated by the Blog do Tiny website :
- “ loose filling : the product is always placed inside a larger box with some protective materials, such as pieces of foam, paper or styrofoam balls;
- wedging and bracing : the shipping package is wedged and braced (inside) with a more resistant material, which can be used to protect specific parts of the order;
- wrapping : the protective materials completely surround the units of the order, the most common materials being bubble wrap, styrofoam inserts or inflatable packaging;
- molded coatings : coatings are made specifically for the product, perfectly fitting the original shape of the item or packaging, thus completely coating them.”
When the packaging is well done, the company reaps a series of advantages. The order is in perfect condition, shipping efficiency is increased, returns are reduced, the customer is satisfied and, probably, loyal to the brand. Simply put, future sales are guaranteed. But to be able to reap the benefits of efficient separation and well-designed packaging, it is necessary to monitor the services through KPIs that assess the team’s performance. Among the performance indicators here are some that can help the entrepreneur in this control:
- cost of labor: functional and training costs must balance with billing results;
- order picking time: collection/hours worked can be analyzed, for example;
- Waiting time in dispatch: measurement of the average time the order waits for dispatch;
- picking time: time used by employees to pick each order;
- team productivity: how is the performance considering the locomotion and the type of product in weight, volume, unit;
- measurement of quality and compliance of care using OTIF (On Time, In Full).
The management of these two operations must be done by a good data management system (ERP) so that failures are identified as quickly as possible, thus reducing any losses.
We at Águia Sistemas can collaborate in this process. We are able to help your company with the most modern aspects of Intralogistics. See now some of the solutions we have for your company when it comes to picking and packing :
- Free Handling Systems: Load transport systems without motorization, which can direct loads to the packing areas .
Motorized Conveyors: Motorized systems that can direct loads to the packing areas .
- Flow Rack: It can be a solution with or without conveyor belts and also a combined solution on different levels of the pallet rack structures with the use of mezzanines for the circulation of operators in the picking areas.
- Mini Pallets Rack: They are structures that can store small loads that also allow manual access in various operations. They can be integrated into other structures using mezzanines.
- Mezzanines: Type of structure used to enable the logistical operation with the movement of people in the picking areas.