Lead Forensics

Five order picking methods – which is best?

Order picking is one of the most important jobs in the warehouse. If fast and accurate, it keeps customers satisfied.

Order picking is the process of locating ordered products in the warehouse and taking them to the packing station where the order is prepared for shipment. A productive warehouse picks and prepares orders ready for shipment as quickly as possible.

There are five order picking methods that support the efficient warehouse operation.

1. Single orders

Single order picking is the most common method, in which one order at a time is worked on by a picker. They collect all order items for a single order and do this repeatedly until their shift is over. Single order picking is fine for small warehouses, but can be time-consuming as it does not optimise journey picking times. One advantage of single-order picking is that it tends to be accurate, as only one worker deals with each order.

2. Batch orders

Batch order picking is also known as multi-order picking and is a method where workers process multiple orders at the same time. This works best when multiple orders contain the same items. The picker only needs to travel to one location to pick identical items for several orders.

3. Zones

Zone picking is when the warehouse is divided into several zones with a picker assigned to each one. A picker retrieves order items located in their zone and places them on the picking trolley. If the order requires another item from a different zone, the trolley is passed to that zone, then more zones if further items are needed from them.

Zone picking is also known as pick and pass, and is suitable for warehouses that process high volumes of orders every day. It avoids the issue of too many pickers congregating in one area.

4. Cluster orders

In the cluster order method, pickers work in many orders at a time. Usually, they have a picking trolley with several containers or tote boxes, one assigned to each order. This method cuts down on picking journey lengths.

5. Wave orders

Similar to zone picking, the wave order system divides the warehouse into zones. Order items are picked from a zone, but instead of passing them to another zone for additional items, all order items from a zone are taken to a single destination where a worker sorts them into the various orders.

Which is the best?

The best picking method for a warehouse depends on a number of factors – the warehouse size, the daily order volumes, the average number of items per order and how many pickers are employed. It’s often wise to try out different methods to find out which one is better for a particular operation.

The best equipment

No matter what picking method is used, a key element to making picking more efficient is to have the best equipment. At Steely Products, we make a wide range of picking trolleys suitable for all picking systems. To discuss your picking needs, give us a call or use the contact form below.

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