“Each picking” is a common style of order picking in the rising world of order fulfillment through e-commerce channels. With each picking, individual products or SKUs are selected from a storage medium instead of choosing an entire case or pallet. Once the order is complete, the picker transports the order to a packing area to be shipped.
Especially at a high volume, this process can be relatively highly labor-intensive, add to rising labor costs, and potentially cause delays in order fulfillment. Plus, because order sizes are getting smaller – in line with a rising share of e-commerce orders – warehouses and distribution centers need to be aware of various storage solutions that support each picking. This knowledge is particularly valuable as we continue to adapt to a rapidly changing supply chain.
So, which storage solutions allow for your warehouse to be best equipped to facilitate each picking?
- Cantilever – Cantilever arms can be attached to pallet rack uprights and be outfitted with wire decks to keep products like clothing and other soft goods within a multi-level system from a picking perspective. This configuration can make continuous picking and replenishment easier for workers. Cantilever shelving can also be utilized as a creative way to put small-cube and slow-moving objects on a shorter pick path.
- Carton Flow – Primarily used in first-in, first-out picking situations, carton flow uses gravity to feed products forward from a rear-load design. When an item is picked, the next case or object with the same SKU moves forward with gravity’s help to the pick face. This style of racking is designed for high-volume each picking where you need to keep operator travel low.
Hand-Stack Racking – Similar to cantilever shelving, hand-stack racks are traditionally used for storing products that may be too bulky or large for standard bin shelving. This racking style generally uses wire decking or a solid surface to act as shelves within selective pallet rack with variable heights per row to best fit products in cases or cartons.
- Modular Picking Carts – Modular picking carts are great accessories for pickers as they fulfill an order. They can accommodate and organize the storage of one (or a few) products of several SKUs, a regular feature of e-commerce orders. These mobile carts can also be configured to be either single-sided or facilitate back-to-back storage, depending on your products’ sizes.
- Vertical Lift Machines (VLMs) – The primary benefit of a VLM is the maximization of vertical space in your warehouse. For instance, a VLM may be capable of storing the same amount of small cube items that take up 5,000 square feet of floor space in a warehouse and transfer that into about 150 square feet of floor space, giving you a 90% decrease in your footprint. This goods-to-man solution allows operators to pick orders accurately and efficiently at a high rate by delivering products in trays controlled by your already-existing Warehouse Management System (WMS).
Which Solution is Best for Your Facility?
For the most part, determining which storage solution is right for you depends on the size of the products stored in your warehouse and how quickly your orders need to be fulfilled. However, that time keeps shrinking due to changing customer expectations.
Having an expert by your side can help determine the best answer, especially if you are looking at adjusting pick processes, facility layout, and storage optimization.
Of course, our team is here to help! We would love to get a conversation started around the challenges you see in meeting customer expectations, rising labor costs, and storage needs. With our “simple, smart, strategic” approach, we can develop the optimal solution to meet your needs. Give us a call today!