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Broken Case Picking Phases

There are many options available for Storage Solutions to address your broken case picking operational challenges. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure you are matching the right picking 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 picked items is a crucial element 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 processes.

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 challenging 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 most appropriate. These systems lend themselves to incorporating more dense storage methods, such as carton and pallet flow. Often times, we have found lower-level automation options like powered conveyors and vertical lift machines (VLMs) to be cost-justified. Simple technology solutions like pick-to-light carts or put-to-light walls are other types of equipment that are optimal for a medium volume operation. Also, 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 is typically configured differently. A multi-level pick module or pick zone-based solution will often make the most sense. Warehouse control systems (WCS) are often 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 tools.

Phase 4: Advanced

Lastly, advanced volume picking operations benefit the most from automation. This equipment can include various powered conveyors, 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, including voice-directed picking. In addition, packing and shipping will also rely heavily on automation. Advanced pick operations can benefit from solutions such as automated unit sortation, weigh-in-motion scales, and automatic print/apply shipping labeling. Similarly, automatic carrier diverts are also substantial automation and technology options for advanced pick operations.

At the end of the day, every level of activity brings a different challenge, so it is crucial 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 details.

Click here to read more about how we can optimize your broken case picking facility!

When I started working at Storage Solutions, it became apparent that I would be learning things I never in my life imagined would be important to my career. Now, I’ve covered pallet rack and fork lifts but what about shipping? Everything we do, everything that every business does, requires logistics. Trucking, shipping, hauling, freight, whatever you want to call it, everyone needs it, and it’s what I chose to cover on this issue of The Rookie Blog.

I’ve been noticing semi trucks more and more. Not because I want to stick my arm out the window to make the driver honk (even though I do) but because I want to see what they are hauling. Maybe some beams, maybe some uprights? I know, exciting stuff, but still interesting to pay attention to something that you never noticed in the past.

Did you know…  
flatbed shipping

  • A typical flatbed trailer is 48 ft. long?
  • A standard van is 53 ft. long?
  • Uprights come in bundles of 15?
  • Beams come in bundles of 30?
  • Wire decks come in bundles of 40?
  • What a bundle was when I started writing this?!

These are a few things that need to be taken in to consideration when scheduling shipping for our wide variety of new equipment and used equipment. I never thought much about the difference in semi trailers. Some are covered, some aren’t, some big, some small, but I was thrown for a major loop the first time I heard the term ‘Van’. As someone not thinking in terms of logistics ‘Van’ puts one image in my head, mom picking me up from practice. However, van has a separate meaning. A Van refers to a freight or box trailer which is your typical rectangular, covered, box looking semi trailer.

The other type of trailers we utilize are ‘Flatbeds’, also known as a platform trailer. Flatbeds are the trailers you see that are just a flat platform, sort of like the name implies! These can be ordered with a tarp to cover whatever material you might be shipping and are pretty handy for hauling beams and uprights.  A forklift driver would have a pretty hard time trying to fit 144 in. uprights through a Van door that’s only 99 in. wide! Instead, they can drive up on the side of the flat bad and set them down running parallel to the trailer.

Pretty easy stuff right?

Maybe for someone that’s handled this sort of information before but every load is going to be different which makes the next step even tougher. Going through the items that are being shipped and figuring out what will/won’t fit on a van/flat is like a geometry puzzle. Again, easy for someone who’s done it before, not so much for the first timer (me). As a visual person it’s much easier for me to understand something like this if I draw it out and as someone who lacks any artistic ability my drawings of overhead trailer views and measurements are quite comical.

It’s always good to learn new things and it only gets easier from here… Well, I doubt it, but I’d rather have a challenging job that forces me to progress instead of sticking to the same old routine every day!

go_greenIn recent years, many companies have been jumping on the “go green” bandwagon.  While it is promising that so many companies have shown an increase in awareness and resolve to opreate in a more environmentally friendly manner, sometimes it is just not financially feasible to do so.  Luckily, there are some business decisions that will keep both the environment, and your company’s bean counter happy.

Using rail cars to ship equipment can save money, and is often times a more environmentally friendly alternative to shipping via tractor trailers.  While it is certainly not always going to be the cheapest option, rail cars can provide a very competitive price for some shipments.  Just recently Storage Solutions managed to save roughly $18,000 on freight costs by shipping via rail.  However, sometimes the best reward is knowing that your business decisions are helping to make the earth a better place.

Here are a few stats that illustrate how shipping by rail can help your company be green!

  • In terms of fuel efficiency, railroads are three times more fuel-efficient than trucks
  • Railcars move freight without clogging freeways
  • Railcars emit only 2.6% of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emmissions, while truck account for 21% of that total