The concept is simple: Put the product away in storage or a pick face.
Then when it’s time to fill an order, send a picker to that location to get the goods.
Let’s call that person to goods picking.
But person to goods picking isn’t the only way to go, especially as the number of SKUs grow to meet consumer demand.
The problem is that as a rule, travel distances and picking times increase as the number of SKUs proliferate.
There is a solution.
With the right order and volume profile, facilities can realize significant productivity gains by turning the person to goods picking formula on its head and employing automated storage, conveyance and data collection technologies to bring the goods to the picker.
Let’s call that goods to person order fulfillment. What kind of gains are we talking about?
When it comes to slow-moving stock keeping units (SKUs), 100 picks per hour is an average rate in a conventional warehouse. A goods to person order fulfillment solution, on the other hand, can support sustained picking rates of 450 to 800 picks per hour, depending on the product and technologies deployed, and up to 1,000 picks per hour during a portion of a shift.
The gains in productivity come from automatically delivering the items to be picked from storage to an ergonomically-designed workstation. The order selector never has to leave the workstation to fill orders. Eliminating the walking time between picks enables more efficient picking at the point where the task is being completed. After all, engineering studies show that an order selector in a conventional warehouse spends 40 to 60% of their time walking to a pick face. Since the picking is system directed, order accuracy also improves.
Early adopters have been industries with a high number of slow moving SKUs, such as the pharmaceutical, optical and health, beauty and cosmetics industries. More recently, goods to person order fulfillment solutions have also found a home in industrial distribution houses, e-commerce fulfillment facilities, grocery distribution centers and retailers with multi-channel distribution requirements.