Pick-to-light and Voice Recognition Technology Replacing Manual Pick Tickets and Orders
Diligent business managers regularly study methods by which they can improve processes and procedures so as enhance performance and net profits. Warehouse operations is a business segment in which savvy supply chain managers focus on gaining maximum efficiency for minimum cost. In order to do so, many “best practices” should be put in place so as to improve both productivity and customer satisfaction. Best practices vary among industries and types of products that are shipped. However, there are many time-tested policies and practices which are appropriate for virtually all companies that need warehousing capabilities.
There is a consensus that the greatest expenditure of effort is in the “picking” process. In order to achieve efficiencies in picking, the labor time to pick orders must be reduced. That objective can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Businesses that have the most efficient warehouses have the most frequently picked items closest to the shipping areas in order to minimize picking time. Regular reviews of sales data allow these companies to verify that the items are stored close to the shipping area are still the most frequently picked.
Warehouse location and design are also important factors in maintaining maximized efficiencies, because reducing travel time spent to and from picking locations will certainly enhance productivity. But, remember gaining such an increase in efficiency, companies must develop processes to regularly monitor picking travel times and storage locations.
Warehouse operations that still use hard copy pick tickets find that it is not very efficient and prone to human errors. To combat this and to maximize efficiency, world class warehouse operations had adopted technology that is some of today’s most advanced systems. In addition to hand-held RF readers and printers, companies have introduced “pick-to-light” and “voice recognition” technology.
A pick-to-light system requires an operator to scan a bar-coded label attached to a box. A digital display located in front of the pick bin will inform the operator of the item and quantity that they need to pick. Companies are typically using pick-to-light systems for their top 5 to 20% selling products. By introducing this system companies can generate impressive efficiencies, because it is totally paperless and eliminates the errors caused by pick tickets.
Voice picking systems transmit pick instructions through a headset. Thus, the system allows operators to perform pick operations without looking at a computer screen or deal with paper pick tickets. Many world class warehouse operations have adopted voice picking to complement the pick-to-light systems in place for their fast moving products.
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