When a traditional warehouse, one where the order selectors walk or ride from one pick slot to the next, has more SKU than pick slots, many start doing things that are, for the most part, counterproductive. They may be regarded internally as essential to operations; but a disconnected outsider will most likely view it otherwise. A few examples include the following:
- Re-palletize from 48 x 40 pallets to 40 x 32
- Convert two pallet pick slots per pair of beams to multiple “hand stack” shelving pick slots
- Create three high pallet pick slots from two high pick slots by lowering the pallet beams and removing a tier or two from each stored pallet
There are alternatives to these that effectively reduce operating costs – some are better than others.
One alternative solution is to add building space. Besides being an expensive option, the single most significant negative for this option is that the order selector’s travel distance increases for each order picked, increasing labor cost for only a fractional gain in product sales.
A second alternative solution is to purchase powered pallet trucks that raise the operator’s platform, bringing the selectors to the pick level more ergonomically.
A third alternative solution is to invest in a “pick-to-belt” system where the order selectors pick multiple orders simultaneously (i.e. “waves” or “batches”), picking cases to a powered conveyor. In the right application, studies prove that labor productivity for pick-to-belt systems is quite high in spite of the need created to sort and palletize the cases once they’re picked. Though the capital investment for a system like this one is higher than the option to add building space, the investment return is typically better as well.
A fourth alternative is Velociti’s CasePick® system.
CasePick® can be a manual alternative where selectors pick to pallets; or it can be an automated alternative where selectors pick to conveyor. Both methods, manual and automated, tackle the challenges caused by Pareto’s Principle, where medium and slow moving inventory items equal or exceed 80% of the SKU, producing only 20% of the workload. And both process multiple orders at the same time, reducing the number of trips through the pick system, utilizing Velociti’s patent pending inventory management software system.
One key advantage for Velociti’s CasePick® system is the reduced capital investment in powered conveyor and the elimination of multiple mezzanine pick levels. It doesn’t require the capital investment of ”miles” of conveyor and hundreds of square feet of mezzanine (plus stairs) as do the “pick-to-belt” systems.
With CasePick®, success metrics show that inventory storage and product utilization is typically doubled, and pick slot counts are typically increased by 30% as compared to the traditional warehouses that employ hand stacking, re-palletizing to smaller pallets, or three high pick slots.
For more information, click here.