Optimize Picking Paths Through Location Sequencing
No matter how well-organized your warehouse racking may be, there always seems to be traffic when it comes to picking.
Many warehouses make the mistake of considering pick paths an afterthought, or something to worry about after the bigger issues such as product location and inventory counts have been taken care of. By putting it off until later, a lot of warehouses find themselves running into major traffic snarls and lost productivity by workers not finding the best routes to take on their way.
While path optimization might seem overly complicated to a lot of warehouse managers, one of the fastest and easiest ways to help manage your picking paths is through location sequencing.
Location sequencing is the process of assigning every picking location in your warehouse a number in a sequence, and then having your staff follow that sequence every time they pick products. This provides an interesting twist on standard picking paths by placing priorities on where the item is being stored and less so on the item itself.
Say, for example, you have some pallet racks that hold the majority of your most-picked items and are in a convenient location near the front or center of your warehouse—you would assign those pallet racks to be number 1 in your sequence. That means that no matter what else is part of the order, items from those pallet racks would be picked first before moving to location #2, and so on.
This helps in a few ways. Primarily it keeps your pickers more productive by allowing them to follow a more logical path during picking and avoiding ‘zig zags’ along the way. A properly sequenced pick would help workers start at the top of the warehouse and work their way through in an orderly fashion without having to constantly backtrack or loop around to find items.
It can also help with item replenishment as needed. When new shipments of products come in, you can set your locations to prioritize which items need to be replenished first to help your stock stay balanced and refreshed as soon as possible.
Implementing location sequencing can be a big benefit to many warehouses, but as always, you’ll want to make sure your warehouse already has systems in place to support it. For example, if your warehouse already uses zone picking, you’ll want to make sure your sequencing matches up with your previously established zones to keep everything aligned. For many warehouses, however, location sequencing can be a huge benefit and may help improve productivity and prevent traffic snarls through the entire warehouse.