Lead Forensics

What is a pick and pack warehouse?

A streamlined pick and pack warehouse offers a business speed, accuracy, and a competitive edge. These hubs of order fulfilment are central to the supply process for many businesses.

Still, what is a pick and pack warehouse? What is the pick and pack policy? How does the process work? These are all topics we’ll address in this article on pick and pack warehouses.

What is a pick and pack warehouse?

In the simplest terms, a pick and pack warehouse is a distribution centre. It’s where products are taken from their storage location and readied for shipment. The items could be shipped to other storage facilities and ‘halfway houses’ on the shipping route, or directly to customers.

This type of order fulfilment is comprised of three fundamental steps – picking, packing and shipping.

What is the pick and pack policy?

The pick and pack policy is the name given to the process of collecting items from storage, and then packing them ready for shipment.

An effective pick and pack policy will be optimised for efficiency and accuracy, allowing products to be retrieved, moved to the packing area and packed with the highest speed, packaging them securely for transit. The best pick and pack policies contribute to maintaining a high order rate and ensure that items reach recipients in good condition; improving customer satisfaction.

Aspects which are central to a successful pick and pack policy are; an accurate inventory, with correct stock records, helping to avoid mistakes, confusion and longer lead times, and efficient picking methods, which also help to improve organisation and cut turn around time, minimising delays to order fulfilment.

How does a pick and pack warehouse work?

Within a pick and pack warehouse, items are located and retrieved from specific storage locations, before being prepared for shipping.

There are two ways in which this can be done – manually or automatically. Manual picking methods employ workers who locate and move products with the help of a pick list of handheld devices to help them get to the items they need. Then there are automated systems that use robots or automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS).

Picking trolleys are essential to assisting manual workers in the pick and pack process. These trolleys are specialised carts that are designed to make identifying and collecting items from storage easier and more efficient. Picking trolleys may have multiple levels and compartments which hold items, reducing the number of visits warehouse personnel need to make to storage areas. These sturdy trolleys are capable of carrying a large number of goods at one time, and also reduce the need for workers to lift items, which can reduce the risk of workplace strains and injuries.

AS/RS systems have changed pick and pack operations, increasing efficiency in retrieving items for packing. These robotic and automated systems use cranes and conveyors controlled by computers to store and retrieve products automatically from specific locations, requiring no human intervention. The flip side of these systems is that they typically require a substantial investment, and would not be financially feasible for many organisations.

Items are then moved to the packing area, where they can be prepared for shipment on platforms such as packing stations and benches. This stage of the process involves packaging materials such as boxes and bubble wrap being used to ensure that products are packaged securely, meaning they are protected during transit.

In a packing area, there would typically be boxes of various sizes, and foam or ‘popcorn’ which acts as cushioning for products inside the boxes, helping to preserve the integrity of the items. The selection of packaging material is important to ensure adequate protection for transportation.

The way a product is packed, and the packaging which is used, will depend on elements such as the fragility and weight of a product. Products made of certain materials – such as glass or ceramic – will require more protective packaging to ensure that they aren’t damaged in transit. The weight of a product will also be a factor in the type of box used.

Pick and pack prowess

In today’s e-commerce world, a streamlined pick and pack warehouse can be integral to a successful business.

At the back end, pick and pack warehouses are an excellent way of cutting logistical costs and making operations more efficient. Items can be organised and packed under one roof, rather than being collected from various facilities, or sent to another site for labelling and packing. By reducing transportation and fine-tuning the process, pick and pack warehouses offer the added advantage of bringing down costs.

On the customer side, an optimised pick and pack policy can ensure that recipients are delivered their goods on time, and that their orders arrive in good condition. Delivery is acknowledged as a significant aspect of customer satisfaction, and a pick and pack warehouse is a key enabler in this regard.

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