5 Best Order Picking Strategies

5 Best Order Picking Strategies

What is Order Picking

Order picking is the process of retrieving products listed in an order from respective warehouses to fulfill customer orders.

It’s a labor-intensive activity that requires both speed and accuracy. The amount of time it takes to get an order together greatly influences delivery time, which is why your productivity levels are essential.

What are different order picking methods?

When it comes to order picking, we will be listing 8 different methods or order picking systems that can support an efficient, profitable operation.

1. Discrete / Single Order Picking

In discrete picking (also known as single order picking) a picker picks a single order SKU by SKU from start to finish before moving on to the next order. An order-picker picks one order, one line at a time. This is by far amongst the simplest and straight-forward of all picking strategies. However, as it is labor intensive and time consuming, therefore it may not be well-suited for most operations. Many organizations start using this methodology and then improve by incorporating intelligent pick lists.

Advantages: simplicity, ideal for paper based picking, provides fast response time for order fulfillment and can easily track order picker accuracy. 

2. Batch Order Picking

In batch picking, order pickers process multiple orders at the same time. Typically, orders are batched depending on the similarity of the SKUs in each order. This is advantageous when there are multiple orders with the same SKU. 

Advantages: reduced travel time  by batching together similar orders and SKUs which increases productivity. 

3. Cluster Picking

The cluster picking method also allows order pickers to work on multiple orders at the same time. However, instead of concentrating on similar SKUs (items) for multiple orders, order pickers pick a variety of items for multiple orders and it typically involves order that are not similar. There are few ways to accomplish this (such as with vertical lift modules or carousels), the most common method is for an order picker to have a cart loaded with multiple containers. The use of an picking cart or collaborative mobile robot helps pickers keep orders organized to reduce errors.

Advantages: cuts down on traveling time, although not as much as batch picking. With cluster picking, the order picker only needs to travel to an area (or zone) once for each cluster they’re working on.

4. Zone Picking

Zone picking is often combined with other methods, most notably, the pick and pass method. The order picker is assigned to each zone is responsible for picking all of the SKUs located in the zone for each order. In the event that an order requires SKUs that are located in multiple zones, the order is filled after it passes through each zone. This process is continued until the order is fulfilled. 

Advantages: great for high volume warehouses that often experience picker congestion in multiple areas.

5. Wave Order Picking

Wave picking is very similar to discrete picking in that one picker picks one order, one SKU at a time. The main difference is the scheduling window. In discrete picking, there is not a scheduling window whereas in wave picking there is. Orders may be scheduled to be picked at specific times of the day, which is usually done to coordinate and maximize the picking and shipping operations. 

While wave order picking is quicker than waiting for each zone to do their part before the order can move on to the next zone, more time and sometimes more workers are needed for the sorting and consolidation process. 

Advantages: great for companies with a higher number of picks per order.

Axacute, includes Order Picking features 

Axacute is a cloud-based solution designed for small and medium sized manufacturing companies to obtain greater visibility into their warehouse and shop floor operations; so that they can get better insights to true operation costs, improve cycle times and on-time deliveries. 

In fact, Axacute inventory module includes features such as Mobile Picking and Multiple Picking Methods.

Watch our Axacute’s WAREHOUSE video that teaches how to perform picking or unpicking of an Item using the Pick List function.

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