Trends in Warehouse Automation: Wave Picking

wave picking in warehouse

How Wave Picking can Benefit Your Operations 

As fulfillment centers struggle with how to meet the challenges of an increased demand for order fulfillment, many companies are examining internal processes, like picking, to determine if there is a better, more efficient way to increase throughput. Smart warehouse managers realize that if they reduce an employee’s physical movement within the facility, they will cut down on the time required to pick.  As a result, many distribution organizations are turning to newer order picking methods, like wave picking, in an effort to increase the productivity of their warehouse operations.

What is Wave Picking?

Wave picking is an order picking method that allows warehouse workers to pick multiple orders in a specific inventory zone within your facility. Often called waves, these workflows occur in short, timed sequencing that align often with shipping or transportation deadlines. Ideally, wave picking activity is completed in concentrated, set time periods during the day to optimize the order picking process. 

How Wave Picking Works 

In a typical wave picking process, fulfillment orders are organized, grouped, and picked in a batch where each wave usually consists of 10 orders or fewer. To optimize the order staging and order picking processes, warehouse workers typically use a cart or tote to collect all orders in that batch. Wave picking is ideal for distribution operations that have a large quantity of pick orders with similar SKUs or items. Options for organizing your wave picking operations can include:

  • Set up of picking orders based on a delivery schedule
  • Group multiple orders for a single customer to pick at one time
  • Schedule by address to reduce shipping costs
  • Hybrid approach — includes two or more wave picking options to meet customer delivery deadlines

How Wave Picking Can Optimize Your Warehouse 

Many wave picking users can see tremendous gains in efficiency. The solution benefits provide various ways of improving operations and processes, which in turn increase inventory, throughput, and productivity. As with any process modification, there will likely be a transition period. Once a warehouse fully adopts wave picking as a solution and practice, expect maximized efficiency and accuracy. 

Wave picking allows warehouses to:  

  • Reduce unnecessary movement – Eliminates inefficiencies caused by asking warehouse workers to venture into the facility to pick a single item. This also reduces the number of steps and time it takes to fulfill an order which decreases worker fatigue that can often result in slower productivity or more errors.
  • Streamline order picking- Wait times and inefficient order picking sequencing are the biggest hurdles to optimizing warehouse worker operations. Schedule tighter picking intervals and streamline picking workflows into a snake pattern through warehouse aisles to eliminate backtracking or doubled efforts.
  • Enhance high volume operations- Consider combining wave picking and zone picking to create more efficient workflows for orders requiring high volume picking. 
  • Reduce errors and mistakes- The wave picking method enhances order picking accuracy, leading to fewer errors and returns which in turn increases customer satisfaction. Increasing efficiency will allow workers to not only pick items more quickly but also more accurately with less confusion or stops along the way. 
  • Improve Morale– Optimizing an employee’s workflow simplifies their job. This leads to not only higher workforce productivity but increased job satisfaction and higher morale. An efficient process that is understood by all will create happier workers, a better work environment, and greater workforce retention. 

Improve Your Warehouse with ScanForce’s Wave Picking 

ScanForce Wave Picking allows you to group sales orders together, enabling you to pick more than one order at a time. This cohesive solution reduces unnecessary trips back and forth across the warehouse, mitigating unnecessary delays and leading to faster order fulfillment. Providing clear and efficient solutions for your warehouse workers will create an environment that fosters seamless workflows and higher morale to work as a team.

There are two options for utilizing ScanForce Wave Picking solution:

Option 1: Create the wave from within Sage 100 by selecting which orders should be included for picking. The warehouse can then select the wave from a list on the mobile device. The picker will then be directed to which items to pick and in what order based on bin location by way of Directed Picking. Smooth, easy, and seamless. 

Option 2: Create the wave right from the worker’s handheld by selecting the orders you’d like to pick for that wave from a list on the device. Smooth, easy, seamless. 

For both options, as orders are picked, order status in Sage is updated wirelessly in real-time.

The Bottom Line

Wave picking is a cutting-edge product that is designed to improve and enhance warehouse operations. Now is the time to streamline your warehouse to avoid any issues that could potentially cause a slow-down. It’s time to ride the warehouse wave! 

To see our wave picking solutions, schedule a demo today. 

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