Shakespere said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Problem is, whether it’s called “single pick”, or “broken case pick”, or “repack”, not even Shakespere would call anything resembling less-than-case picking a “rose”! He may suggest a thorn…?
In short, broken case picking is all of the following:
- It’s a poor use of warehouse space…
- It’s labor intensive…
- Order accuracy is dependent upon a non-highly compensated associate…
It’s well established that “to increase productivity, one must reduce the number of touches”.
That old adage is now officially proven false…because PiecePick® actually INCREASES the number of touches and at the same time, INCREASES productivity.
The secret is in the definition of the word “touch”. Specifically, how much time is involved in each touch? And how much product is actually picked once the operator is in front of the pick slot? A touch, for example, that requires an operator to move horizontally and/or vertically for several seconds before making a pick of one or two units will have a much lower pick rate than someone who moves only two or three steps and picks 10 or more units.
PiecePick® focuses on touches that require one or two seconds of movement between picks as well as larger pick quantities, sometimes twenty to thirty times more quantity per stop.
Studies suggest the following results:
- Double the amount of product stored in the same amount of space, or the same product in half the space.
- Two-thirds the labor.
- 100% verifiable accuracy.
- A fraction of the capital investment typically required for pick modules with case-flow lanes and “miles of conveyor”. (Please Note: Some companies actually boast about the miles of conveyor in their warehouse. It amazes us…has no one explained how expensive conveyor is per linear foot?)
For those who wish to read more, let’s begin with a simple description of the typical broken case pick system:
- Receiving is where it all begins – so let’s begin there by describing the most typical method. Less-than-case items are typically (not always) received in less-than-full pallet quantities. Perhaps a tier or two of the same item, and often a case or two delivered by a re-seller’s truck with multiple SKU on the same pallet.
- Next is the put-away function. When inventory is moved from receiving to put-away, it is typically moved to reserve. When the pick slot is nearing empty, a replenishment function is requested and inventory is moved from reserve to the pick slot. If the pick slot won’t accommodate the inventory on the pallet, the pallet is returned to reserve – to be called upon again later.
- Picking is next. The most typical method is single order picking to totes transported by either a mobile cart or gravity conveyor. One order selector picks one (or if they’re really good, perhaps two), order for each trip around the pick path. The selector may have pick-to-light for assistance, or voice pick, or no assistance at all. Predominantly, the orders are picked one per person per trip.
- Totes are released from the pick area in one of two ways, a.) as they’re filled, requiring a sorter, or b.) they’re kept together and released when the order is completed.
- The final step is truck loading, where totes are either palletized with full case items and loaded by pallet, or the truck is floor loaded with a combination of cases and totes.
PiecePick® is a completely different paradigm set.
- PiecePick® allows receiving to bring inventory into the warehouse without repalletizing it. Specifically, receivers aren’t required to separate different SKU onto different pallets. The received pallet can be delivered to put-away as it is received. Labor required for re-palletizing at receiving is no longer needed.
- PiecePick® eliminates the replenishment function. Once a product is put into storage, it isn’t touched again until it’s picked. The replenishment function is gone, finished, caput, finis. Labor required for replenishment is no longer needed.
- PiecePick® assigns selectors to pick bulk quantities of inventory for multiple orders at a time. Instead of traveling the pick path once for each order picked, the pick path is traveled only once for multiple orders – perhaps 50 or 150 orders picked at the same time.
- Inventory is touched an additional time for this step because the inventory is now sorted into the shipping containers (i.e. tote or corrugated). To optimize productivity and insure accuracy, PiecePick® utilizes pick-to-light technology, robust controls, and integration of conveyor controls with network software that interfaces with the host computer in real time.
- When a tote is full, it is either pushed onto a take away conveyor and sorted, or it’s retained in queue with the other totes/boxes for the same order until time to be released to shipping and truck loading.
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