Lead Forensics

Six challenges of the picking and packing process

A big part of fulfilling orders in a warehouse is the picking of items and the packing of them ready for dispatch. Therefore, it is unfortunate that there are so many problems that can arise during these two parts of the fulfilment process.

Failing to address challenges will cost your business time and money; a company aiming to succeed cannot really afford to lose either of these. Picking orders and packing them are estimated to amount to as much as 45% of the total operating costs for a standard warehouse, so you can see how important they are.

These are the most frequent mistakes that happen when picking and packing orders, and how you can avoid falling prey to them.

1. Inventory not being where it is supposed to be

This is easily one of the most common challenges to arise and it will make picking the necessary stock for pending orders much more time consuming for employees and your business. It can even lead to a failure to fulfil orders by the agreed date, with the result of an angry customer and damage to the reputation of your company.

The best way to avoid it is by implementing a system of inventory management for your warehouse. Doing this should include scanning locations for each item of inventory and recording this information. If you do that, items should always be in the correct place and employees will be able to pick them much more quickly.

2. Pickers selecting the wrong stock

Sometimes this means picking incorrect items and at other times it means getting the quantities needed for the relevant order wrong. Either way, this can delay the start of packing or lead to erroneous items being dispatched, which will then have to be returned and replaced. The ultimate effect is inefficiency and wasted money, as well as potential reputational damage.

Having a system involving barcode scanning of items during picking should prevent it from happening. If a picker selects an incorrect item, this scan will display an error message to let them know.

3. Having inadequate equipment

If the equipment used during either picking or packing is not up to the job, this will lead to inconvenient challenges. Picking often involves the transport of heavy items, so the trolleys used for this should be hard wearing and fitted with castors to ensure they can bear the weight and be moved easily. There are several stages involved in the packing process and a good packing table will allow you to store everything you need in one place in order to save time.

The best way to avoid equipment failures, breakdowns and inefficiency is to make sure your warehouse has durable steel trolleys and tables that are suitably fitted out.

4. Deploying out of date picking systems

A large number of warehouse operations still use old fashioned paper-based systems for regulating their picking processes. That means pages containing the necessary information have to be continually printed and given to each member of the picking team. Not only is this time-consuming, but as paper can get lost, it is also a system that can lead to mistakes being made when prepping orders for dispatch.

It is another common challenge that can very easily be sorted out, though. The solution is to replace the paper with a modern mobile warehouse management app that provides each picker with the information they need. That will save time and also reduce the risk of errors. Think of it as being like letters being replaced by emails.

5 Having too many pickers

Many warehouses seem to think that hiring greater numbers of picking staff will make the process quicker. It is easy to understand why, but that is usually not the result. More often, it leads to people getting in each other’s way, reducing overall speed and efficiency. It will also mean that your company has to pay out higher sums in wages and overtime.

The better alternative is to implement a system of automated picking. By making things smoother, it will mean that fewer people are needed during each shift to pick items for the required orders. In some cases, this kind of automation has led to picking increasing by as much as 75% per hour.

6. Lack of accountability

It should be clear exactly who is responsible for both picking and packing orders at all times, so that if a mistake does happen, the management can trace it. Otherwise, it is impossible to see which workers are doing their jobs to a high standard and which are not.

This can be achieved through a comprehensive warehouse management system that tracks all tasks within the warehouse, identifying who did which job.

At Steely Products we make top quality steel picking trolleys and packing tables for warehouses. Contact us about them using the form below.

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