As an increasing number of distribution centers and warehouses adapt to rapidly changing times, pick modules have become more popular as systems to increase storage utilization and labor efficiency. Due to changes in consumer demand, orders are becoming smaller, and expectation between the time an item is ordered and when it is delivered continues to shrink.
In turn, this new dynamic is causing retailers to require less inventory at their stores physically. Warehouses are responding by shifting to store a wider variety of products and SKUs. So, to make fulfillment quicker and easier when inventory grows broader and more profound, pick modules are being widely adopted to support the changing environment.
Our friends at UNARCO Material Handling, Inc. do a great job of explaining the functionality of these systems:
“The idea behind the Pick Module is optimum flow efficiency. Palletized loads are moved by gravity through the system before being broken into cartons and pieces, then sent to pick areas and finally shipped to the consumer. Technology, coupled with integrated conveyor and sortation systems, direct the flow of in-bound product through the order fulfillment stage.”
Industries of all types have seen pick modules improve the operations of their distribution centers. Any facility that processes small-parts or small order fulfillment – think about parts distributors or e-commerce companies – can particularly benefit from adopting pick modules.
Ultimately, it comes down to getting workers more comfortable, ergonomic access to these smaller picks & using automation to deliver the work to workers to minimize travel in the operation. The pick module systems can be designed to fit the needs of the stored parts and how they are picked. So, which style of pick module is the best for your business?
Shelf-Supported Pick Module
Pick modules that utilize rivet or steel shelving offer a degree of customization to support storage capacity optimization. Each shelving unit can be customized to fit whatever product is stored there, which is useful in warehouses that process many similarly-sized items or variations of the same product. They are relatively cost-effective. However, both rivet and steel shelving are considered less durable than pallet rack supported systems. You can learn more about the differences between the rivet and steel shelving here.
Rack-Supported Pick Module
Pick modules configured with traditional pallet racking offer managers the heaviest-duty of the various styles. While they also are the most costly to invest in, they also provide the longest-term solution, because you are essentially designing a system that can be flexible to suit your needs as you grow. By working with a design consultant with years of experience in storage design, you can account for potential growth from your organization, allowing you to easily reconfigure your pick module when bringing in new customers and products.
Pick Module with Storage Bins
Storage bins are an additional method of improving your spatial capacity within a pick module. Among the smallest storage mediums available, containers help keep similar items in one area without intermingling with different products. Typically, they are useful when you want to pick very small products that are not easily contained by packaging, as opposed to full-cases or large cube eaches. They are available in various colors and sizes to best utilize the storage space and make picking easier for the worker.
Light Duty Cantilever Shelving Pick Module
Light-duty cantilever shelving is among the most cost-effective storage solutions for pick modules. Primarily the cantilevered design offers uninterrupted shelving, which can be configured to whatever height provides the most vertical utilization. The world’s most popular online retailers utilize light-duty cantilever shelving because their shelves can span hundreds of feet without wasting inches between racking. Because they process such a high volume, each wasted inch can add up across thousands of shelving feet.
Are You Ready?
Whether you are looking to adapt to changing consumer demand or looking to adopt efficient tools to improve your fulfillment processes, we are here to help. Our team of storage experts can work with you to learn more about your business, what unique challenges you may face, and then create solutions tailored to suit your needs. Give us a call today!