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Improving Picking and Packing Efficiency

24Nov, 2014
Pick and Pack

Tips for Improving Picking and Packing Efficiency

Picking and packing is an important part of the supply chain management process, and for many companies it’s also an area where there’s room for improvement. One of the most important factors in picking and packing efficiency is warehouse organization. When a warehouse is organized in a consistent and systematic way, it makes it much easier for staff to locate items without wasting valuable time searching for items.

Automation and electronic inventory systems can also help streamline activities in a warehouse. The more efficient the pick and pack process is, the faster items can be shipped to customers. In today’s online retail environment, consumers expect speedy delivery. A purchase that arrives later than expected could even cost you their business. The following are some tried-and-true tips for improving your company’s picking and packing process:

  • Encourage warehouse workers to always double-check during every step of the process. “Better safe than sorry” is a common truism for a very good reason. This is an easy, intuitive way to reduce the likelihood of errors.
  • Consider improving your storage strategies. Not only can altering your modes of storage reduce the time needed for picking and packing an item, it can also improve workplace safety.
  • Optimize your warehouse layout. Several key aspects of warehouse layout can help improve picking and packing efficiency. Many warehouse managers find that a large receiving area helps staff complete their jobs faster. It provides space for counting items, breaking down pallets, and other tasks.

Another useful design point is segmentation – keeping warehouses subdivided into clearly defined areas. This helps reduce the chance of costly errors, such as returned items being mistaken for stock. This should generally be combined with a well-organized aisle system that makes it easy for workers to move and navigate within the warehouse.

  • Take advantage of automation technology. Conveyor belts and other automated devices can not only help your workers get where they need to go, but reduce fatigue as well. A physically tired warehouse employee is more likely to make a mistake, so reducing the amount of walking required can pay off in the longer run.
  • Keep product storage areas neatly organized. When workers have to sort through products to find what they are looking for, it wastes valuable time. Ideally, the location of items should be consistent and organized, making it easy for staff to do their jobs.
  • Keep track of inventory error rates. Even in the most efficient and organized warehouse, pick and pack errors will be made from time to time. Keeping track of what kinds of mistakes are being made, and how often, can provide key insights into areas where there might be room for improvement.
  • Implement Solid Checks and Balances Systems. Over time, redundancies and unnecessary activities can arise in a warehouse environment. These can often become habits for even the most capable warehouse staff, becoming entrenched over time. These issues can often go overlooked until they cause enough of a problem to attract attention. A great way to avoid such problems is to have a manager review activities and provide pair of “fresh eyes” on the floor. By doing this, they can evaluate daily activities and recommend changes that could improve your picking and packing processes.

Developing a set of best practices for picking and packing, as well as optimizing your warehouse layout, can greatly improve supply chain efficiency. Quick and accurate picking and packing can help get your orders shipped faster, with less risk of error or damage to the product. At the end of the supply chain, this results in an optimally satisfied customer who will feel inclined to buy from you again.

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