When people think of the picking process, the first image many conjure up is one of warehouse workers on foot, walking up and down aisles, gathering items to put together an order. But there is another way – where pickers stay at their station. To play on a famous phrase: instead of Muhammad having to go to the mountain, what if the mountain came to Muhammad?
The idea behind goods-to-person picking is as simple as it is ingenious – rather than consuming considerable time and energy to track down products, staff stay at their picking station and let the items come to them. This paves the way for high throughput of up to 1000 picks per hour, while ensuring employees can work in an ergonomic way.
The crucial foundation for goods-to-person picking is an automated warehouse. Corresponding solutions, such as those from Dematic, are specially developed for challenging, high-demand scenarios, including retail store replenishment and just-in-time delivery of parts for manufacturing. A vital element is Dematic iQ software, which automatically provides visibility into and manages all aspects of fulfillment – it ensures items are e.g. directly picked to shipping containers that are the right size, reducing cycle times and cutting labor, shipping and transport cost
Step by step: the goods-to-person picking process
- Dedicated workstations receive incoming goods; employees scan bar codes and transfer the items to inventory containers.
- These inventory containers are then conveyed and automatically put away in buffer storage.
- Inventory containers are retrieved from storage and conveyed to picking stations as required.
- Lights and graphical instructions indicate to (human) pickers which items need to be taken from the inventory containers and placed in order containers.
- When an order container is complete, it is automatically transferred to the packing/shipping area.
- When they are no longer needed, inventory containers are returned to buffer storage.