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How to Reduce Picking and Packing Errors

How to Reduce Picking and Packing Errors_featured
Last Modified: September 22, 2022
There is no denying that pick and pack errors are fairly common. A lot of businesses report issues with picking and packing, ranging from too many people and locations to losing order details and substituting the wrong items. However, this is not something that we should just accept. All businesses
Fulfillment And Distribution
January 23, 2020
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There is no denying that pick and pack errors are fairly common. A lot of businesses report issues with picking and packing, ranging from too many people and locations to losing order details and substituting the wrong items. However, this is not something that we should just accept. All businesses need to make a dedicated effort to reduce picking and packing errors. If you do not reduce picking and packing errors, you are going to end up with continual inventory mistakes that will cost your business money. 

You can reduce picking and packing errors by:

  • Identifying the weak link
  • Considering warehouse design
  • Taking advantage of other forms of picking
  • Looking at warehouse staff
  • Outsourcing fulfillment to a 3PL

Don’t let the process of selecting, combining, packing and shipping your goods get muddled. A streamlined picking and packing operation can boost efficiency and keep your reputation strong.

Examine the Entire Workflow to Identify the Weak Link

There is only one place to begin, and this is by taking a look at the entire process in full, from the moment items are received through to storage, ordering, picking and packing. This is the only way you will be able to identify issues. After all, you may have noticed that something is going wrong with picking and packing, yet the errors may not be directly related to this. They could be related to something earlier in the process, for example, order errors. You are only going to be able to get to the bottom of where you are going wrong if you look at everything on the whole. 

For example, there are a number of different problems relating to warehouse storage, which can then cause issues with the entire picking and packing process. The layout of your warehouse may not make logical sense and the picking paths may, therefore, be inefficient. Another storage problem is neglecting housekeeping. Mess in a warehouse results in the obstruction of flow of people and goods. Not only does this lower productivity but it can result in things ending up where they should not be and mistakes made. 

There are also a number of mistakes that can be made when the orders are being taken, and this can then send the entire process on the wrong route. For example, if you are still using manual order recording, this can be prone to human mistakes. A lot of different types of miscommunications are possible when you recover an order verbally. Common errors of mishearing, error in sequence, inventory counts mistakes, spelling errors, and such like can happen when you are writing or recording an order on a piece of paper. Therefore, the error here would be with how orders are being taken, rather than how orders are being picked and packed. 

Looking for a solution to store and ship your products seamlessly? Let R+L Global Logistics be your fulfillment and distribution partner.

Switch to an Updated Technology Option 

Switch to an Updated Technology OptionAn important step to take when it comes reducing picking errors is to switch to an updated technology option. Automated order picking methods are a must for eliminating labor-intensive processes and ensuring errors are reduced. This means packing, picking, and retrieving items through the assistance of computerized systems that marry equipment and software in an integrated manner. 

There are many benefits that are associated with automated picking technology. This includes all of the following:

  • Automated technology will help you to save time and boost productivity. Automated order picker methods will help to make sure that you do not depend on manpower resources and labor as much.
  • By switching to technology, you can help to ensure product quality and picking accuracy as well. These systems can handle a number of different products with a high level of care. They make certain that only high quality items are included in the customer’s final order. 
  • This also helps to reduce or eliminate labor costs that are not needed. You can save more money since you lower manpower expenses. 
  • Automated order picking also helps to ensure that time and facility space is used efficiently. After all, machines can do things faster. This means you will be able to meet the needs of more clients. You will also be able to use warehouse or storage space more effectively thanks to the rise in product density level. 
  • Technology can also help to promote safety. This is because machines that are controlled by computers do most of the work, which helps to promote the safety of the employees. Machines can do all of the unloading, picking, replenishing, and heavy lifting. 
  • And, last but not least; you can reduce the number of or even eliminate errors, which is what this guide is all about. The vast majority of automated systems are programmed based on your business’ daily operations. This means the technology is only going to perform tasks that it has been told to do. This means that human mistakes are reduced because the type, frequency, and quantity of products are calculated. This can help you save time and money.

Automated picking methods are used by all of the big companies around the world today. You should also consider some of the technologies that are shaping the industry and set to make a big impact over the next few years.

One trend that is set to completely revolutionize the pick and packing industry is robotics. A new generation of ‘follow me’ robots will see unneeded human motion eradicated from the picking and packing process. For instance, both Fetch Robotics and Locus Robotics provide an autonomous mobile robot that enables the picker to be able to fill the bins on the robot with one stock. The robot will then find its way to the packing station once filled. There is then another robot that will sweep in, taking the place next to the picker. Of course, it will be a while before this is fully implemented but it shows you the way the industry is going and another way that mistakes can be reduced. 

Consider Redesigning the Warehouse Layout

Another way that you can improve your picking and packing process and lower the number of errors that are made is to look at the warehouse space layout. There are three main elements that come together when it comes to an effective warehouse layout. These are as follows; flow, accessibility, and space. So, how can you make sure you have a warehouse layout that achieves these three objectives? 

It all begins with a plan. You need to make sure that you define your objectives. Some businesses want to make their warehouse more efficient, whereas others want to optimize their inventory receiving, for example. Once you have outlined your objectives, you will be able to redesign your warehouse layout so it achieves them. You will also need to determine your warehouse inventory needs, create an implementation plan, and test your warehouse layout design.

Use Other Forms of Picking 

Use Other Forms of PickingIt is also important to recognize that there are different forms of picking. Some of the most common options include Zone, Batch, and Wave picking. Below, we will explain each one and the benefits that are associated with them. 

  1. Zone Picking - Firstly, we have zone picking. As the name implies, this is when the warehouse is separated into a number of zones. Every picker will then be given a specific zone. This can sometimes be referred to as the pick and pass method because items will be picked in one zone and then passed to another zone. There are a number of different benefits associated with this solution. This includes the fact that continual picking can take place. The process can be made a lot quicker because the area covered by pickers is minimized due to them operating in zones all over the warehouse. Large orders can also be picked at a quick pace and orders can be shipped a lot quicker because a lot of pickers are picking at the same time. Also, if you have different zones with specialised picking needs, you can train pickers based on where they have been allocated to. For example, this can lower training requirements because it may mean that a smaller number of employees are going to need forklift training. Zone picking is also beneficial because it gets rid of congestion and crowds. Pickers are less likely to get in each other’s way too.
  2. Batch picking - Next, we have batch picking. This can sometimes also be referred to as multi-order picking. With this solution, the picker needs to gather a batch of orders that have been placed based on SKU, one SKU at a time. With the traditional picking and packaging process, orders with numerous picking tickets will be combined and then they are split later. There are a number of benefits that are associated with batch picking, including the fact that there will be greater optimization of picking shifts. This is because it tends to incorporate order profiles that tend to have just a few SKUs. This means that orders should be getting picked and packed for shipping with one order schedule window for each shift. This means your business can fulfil big batches of items at any one time. It also results in a reduced travel time on the warehouse floor. This will have a positive impact on productivity and the number of units that have been picked per hour. 
  3. Wave picking - The third and final alternative picking option that we are going to take a look at is wave picking. This is very much like discrete order packing, as one order will be picked, one SKU at a time. However, the difference between the two is that there is a scheduling window. This means that certain orders will be scheduled to be picked at certain times of the day. There are a number of different types of criteria that will decipher the wave of orders. There are a number of advantages associated with this solution. This includes the fact that it impacts the flow of goods into the warehouse in a positive manner because there is full control over when orders are picked. Remember, early, we spoke about how flow is one of the main qualities in a warehouse. It is also worth pointing out that waves can be allocated at various times to separate zones.

Looking for a solution to store and ship your products seamlessly? Let R+L Global Logistics be your fulfillment and distribution partner.

Ensure Your System and Pickers Understand How to Prioritize Orders

Ensure Your System and Pickers Understand How to Prioritize OrdersYou also need to make sure that your employees are aware of how to prioritize orders. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to this. It all depends on your business and your goals. Some companies, for example, will prefer to assign priority at customer level. This means that customers that are flagged with being high priority customers will have their orders processed first. You could give customers a rating. Therefore, if customers all place an order on the same day, their rating will dictate whose order would be shipped first. 

A lot of businesses decide to operate on the basis of if you ordered first, your items are shipped first. This means you are basically going to be sending out orders based on when they were placed. The highest priority will be given to the oldest orders in this case. This means new orders will go to the bottom of the list. This may seem like the obvious choice to go for and the easiest to implement. However, this is not always the case. If you have one or two very important customers who may be unhappy with the delay, this could end up causing friction. 

The two examples are simply two of many when it comes to the different ways to prioritize your orders. Other examples include the availability of the product, the processing date, and the promise date, for instance, you may promise a ship date on your website when a customer places an order. 

Reorganize Warehouse Staff If Needed

The final piece of the puzzle when it comes to reducing pick and pack errors at your business is to reorganize your warehouse staff. Of course, this is only something you should do if you feel that it is needed. However, it could be that your current set-up is inefficient and that you are not using your current employees to the best of their abilities. You should also make sure that you provide employee training when and where needed. 

Outsource Fulfillment to a 3PL Provider

Outsource Fulfillment to a 3PL ProviderAnother way that you can reduce the picking and packing errors that you are making at your business is to outsource fulfillment to a 3PL warehouse provider. This involves hiring a third party company to manage some or all parts of the fulfillment process, including shipping orders, packaging items, and storing inventory. Of course, the exact services provided will depend on the relationship that you strike up with the company you decide to outsource too. 

There are a number of different benefits to consider when it comes to outsourcing fulfillment to a 3PL provider. This includes the fact that you are not going to need to store your inventory. You are also going to be able to scale by focusing on only the most important tasks. Before you now have a business that handles this for you, you can have peace of mind and focus on the core of your company instead, which is what really makes your business money. 

There are two main reasons why people overlook outsourcing fulfillment today. The first is because they want to maintain control of every step of the process. While this is admirable, it is inefficient, and you are going to run into a lot of hurdles along the way. In addition to this, people worry about the cost associated with going down this route. However, outsourcing can save you a lot of money in the process because you do not need to spend money on staff and other members. You are also not going to lose as much money due to mistakes and errors. 

Fulfillment With R+L Global Logistics

As you can see, there are many different benefits that are associated with using an order fulfillment warehouse company if you are looking to reduce picking and packing errors. However, the only thing you need to do now is to find the right company for the job. Luckily, you do not need to look far, as R+L Global Logistics has you covered. We have an exceptional reputation in the industry, providing real-time visibility, hands-on support, advanced technology, and a large ground network.

Are you ready to reduce picking and packing errors? Get started with R+L Global Logistics today. If you have any questions about the service that we provide or you are ready to get started, you can reach us on (866) 989 3082. We look forward to hearing from you.

Looking for a solution to store and ship your products seamlessly? Let R+L Global Logistics be your fulfillment and distribution partner.

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