There are so many options available for Storage Solutions to address your broken case picking operational challenges. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you are matching the right approach to what your warehouse needs. The more challenging your needs are, the more likely you are to be able to make a business case with a relatively short-term ROI for more complex solutions.
Our team uses a variety of criteria to decide what equipment, automation, and technology are best to optimize each solution. The volume of items being picked is a crucial entity of this process, so we’re going to walk through some examples of what we can do to tailor each operation for peak efficiency. We will break this down into four levels of pick activity including low, medium and high-volume operations, along with advanced systems for very high volume and complex operations.
Phase 1: Low Volume
In a low volume broken case picking operation, we typically see little or no automation and limited technology solutions. Limited labor requirements make it difficult to show an ROI for complex solutions. You are most likely dealing with bin shelving or hand stack pallet rack for a storage method. These operations often use paper pick lists or RF scanning technology to manage orders. With a low volume of items picked, frequently the most cost-effective method would involve using a manual pick cart or gravity conveyor to move through the order selection process.
Phase 2: Medium Volume
For a medium volume picking operation, simple automation and technology solutions are often warranted. More dense storage methods such as carton and pallet flow are often found in these systems. Lower level automation such as powered conveyor and vertical lift machines (VLMs) may be cost-justified as well. Simple technology solutions like pick to light carts or put to light walls are other types of equipment that can be utilized in a medium volume operation. Semi-automated tapers with void fill machines may also be the best option to maximize productivity in the packing area.
Phase 3: High Volume
Next, for a high volume picking operation, automation and technology solutions will most likely be involved. While the storage methods may be similar to a medium volume operation, the overall facility solution may be configured differently. A multi-level pick module or pick zone based solution will often make the most sense. A warehouse control system (WCS) software solution may be required to manage automation components. Packing and shipping are also more likely to rely on automation. The packing process could benefit from fully automated packing list insertion and fully automated tapers, weigh in motion scales & print & apply labeling.
Phase 4: Advanced
Finally, the last pick activity level we will cover is advanced broken case picking. Advanced volume picking will benefit the most from having the bulk of the operation automated. This equipment can include various powered conveyor, sortation, semi-automated deep lane storage, ASRS, mobile robotics or other “goods to man” solutions. The picking process will likely incorporate high-level technology solutions like voice directed picking. Packing and shipping will also rely heavily on automation. Solutions such as automated unit sortation, weigh in motion scales, automated print/apply shipping labeling, and automated carrier diverts are also substantial automation and technology facets that often get incorporated in these solutions.
Every level of activity brings a different challenge, so it is important to plan for growth. We are here to help you implement the optimal facility to meet your current & future business needs. Our team will be with you throughout the process, making sure that we get you everything you need down to the finest detail.
Click here to read more about how we can optimize your broken case picking facility!