Do you know the number one time-waster in order picking? It’s footsteps. Every time a picker has to leave the line to retrieve items or conduct an exhaustive search to find an item, your operation’s productivity starts to sink. These extra footsteps add up, decreasing the efficiency of your operation which negatively impacts your profit margins.
Think for a minute about the situation at your business- be it a manufacturing plant, or a distribution center. Are you adding new products? Do you anticipate growth or changes in products in the near future? Can you honestly say it’s “smooth sailing” through your pick aisles, or do you sometimes feel like you are the captain of a shipwreck? If it’s the latter, you can steer your ship back on course.
Let’s take a look at a national food wholesaler. This company was experiencing explosive growth in their product line, which in turn created chaos in the warehouse. To make room for new products or SKUs, slow moving items were taken from the pick aisle and shoved here and there- in corners, on shelves, anywhere they could find some space. Pickers were leaving the pick line, wasting precious seconds and footsteps, and feeling rather frustrated playing hide-and-seek with the products. In short, their pick line had sprung a leak, and it was only a matter of time before the operation was underwater. If this scenario feels familiar, fear not- Unex possesses the tools and the know-how to rectify these troublesome issues.
The wholesaler turned to Unex for a solution. Our first step was to implement Unex’s software known as SKUBE. This unique program analyzes the movement of every product and produces out a detailed report, dictating which items should be assigned to pallets, carton flow and shelving units. Armed with this data, we were in a position to assist the wholesaler in developing a more productive and efficient pick line.
With the right storage identified for every product, we redesigned the pick line, bringing together a perfect mix of pallet positions, carton flow and shelving. We also opened up bays where we installed mobile rack units called “pick tunnel carts.” The pick tunnel carts are loaded off the pick line and rolled into pallet rack bays. These carts eliminated the need for the picker to travel up to an additional of 500 feet. These saved footsteps allowed the wholesaler to greatly increase their efficiency.
After all of Unex’s solutions were put into place, the wholesaler was able to reduce travel time on the pick path by 80%, reduced the average pick time by 42%, and opened 456 pallet positions to make room for new SKUs. Their sinking ship was saved.
These solutions can also be applied to your operation. Are you maximizing floor space? Are your pick paths properly designed and efficient? Or can you feel the leaks starting to spring in your order picking processes? If so, Unex possesses the solutions you need to sail off into the sunset of success.