Trolleys for picking items from the storage sections of warehouses and transferring them to packing areas are a standard item of equipment.
They usually consist of frames made of hard-wearing but light metal, such as steel, which are on castors to make moving them easy, even when they are supporting heavy items.
Since their introduction, these trolleys have saved time and money for fulfilment businesses by making the picking process faster. However, like other elements of a good warehousing operation, the trolleys must be periodically evaluated to see whether they are still the best option available to you for that job.
Continuing to use outdated trolleys can end up costing your company in time and profits.
What tells you if your trolleys are out of date?
One clear sign that the trolleys you are using are obsolete is if you research the subject online and find that there are models available that are leaner and more flexible. In many respects, the standard warehouse order picking trolley has now been supplanted by newer models able to better meet the specific needs of businesses.
Take the fold-and-go trolleys that we manufacture. These feature steps that can be unfolded and have rails on either side. They are designed to ensure that pickers are able to reach inventory that is stored on higher shelves more rapidly and safely than they would be able to with an old-fashioned trolley.
It is important to ensure that your warehouse stays on top of innovations like this that improve efficiency.
How up-to-date picking trolleys can benefit your warehouse
Investing in the very best modern picking trolleys available can have a number of benefits for your business. They include:
Reduced employee tiredness
Because the trolleys bear the weight of both heavy single items and orders that contain multiple items, it means employees are less likely to suffer workplace injuries like back and shoulder strains.
The castors fitted to each trolley take the effort out of moving items to the packing areas too, cutting the fatigue that slows workers down.
Improved picking speed
A good trolley will enable an employee to pick and move many more items than they could manage by hand. The result of that will be speedier and more efficient picking processes, which should increase the profit margins for your company.
Are there alternatives to picking trolleys?
There are alternatives to picking trolleys that some companies are adopting, largely in the belief that they will replace them.
The main one is automated warehouse robots. These are designed to lead picking staff to the locations of items to be picked and through the job of picking them.
One argument that is used in support of them is that they remove the potential for human error during the picking process. Another is that, being automated, they move themselves rather than having to be pushed by members of your picking team. This is thought to further reduce the risks of exhaustion and upper body strains that can slow things down and cause costly employee absences.
There is no question that there are some genuine advantages to the adoption of warehouse robots, but it should be pointed out that there are downsides, too. One is that they are automated to perform set jobs and often prove unable to adapt if either the inventory or the layout of the warehouse is changed. A second is that these robots remain extremely costly at the initial purchase point, with regular maintenance costs also having to be factored in.
Finally, the very fact that they are technological means that they will sometimes suffer from glitches that lead to breakdowns or errors. Therefore, the notion that they represent a more efficient and reliable alternative to picking trolleys is a dubious one. They do offer undoubted benefits in terms of minimising the amount of journeys between aisles that picking staff have to make, and in further reducing their physical labours, but they should be viewed with caution by warehouse managers, due to the potential problems highlighted above.
Better Trolleys: Efficient Picking
It is possible to improve the efficiency of your picking by the less drastic method of investing in up-to-date trolleys and analysing the layout of the warehouse to identify potential shorter routes to and from the picking areas. There is no doubting that outdated trolleys will lead to inefficiencies, especially if they become very worn and unreliable, but replacing human picking staff with automated robots is a risky approach.
Even with the artificial intelligence that these robots are equipped with, they are still less physically agile than human pickers using the correct trolley for the job. That is likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future.
At Steely Products, we manufacture tough steel picking trolleys to suit our clients. Use the form below to place an order today.Get a free quote