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Speed and accuracy – these are just some of the advantages of efficient picking. In order to cope with this process with an increasing variety of orders and a growing total volume of deliveries, new solutions and innovative picking tools are emerging.

Innovations have recently appeared e.g. in the FMCG distribution centre of the PLUS retail chain (the Dutch chain has 260 own stores and 227 franchise outlets in total). In the Regional Distribution Centre in Haaksbergen, on a relatively small area of only 14,000 square metres, approximately 360,000 movements of goods, which leave the warehouse for stores in approximately 12,000 containers, are carried out within a week.

In recent years, the assortment has expanded by about a quarter. This led to the decision to upgrade the internal transport fleet using modern picking solutions. A total of 22 order picking trolleys with a raisable driver’s cab were ordered.

When the front pallet spaces are empty, it is necessary to reach deep into the rack for products. Pressing the button on the steering wheel lifts the cab, allowing you to pick up items easily. In order to lower it with full hands, it is enough to stump twice,” says Roberto Kamminga, picker in the PLUS Retail centre, about the practical use of the new trolleys.

“The raisable driver’s station allows comfortable picking at a second level, approximately 1.5 m high, regardless of the height of the operator. This is particularly important in the context of today’s shortages on the labour market – thanks to the solution everyone can work efficiently,” adds Peter Brugge, Manager of the PLUS Distribution Centre.

The distinguishing feature of the OPX 20 is the Easy Drive, a control device (in the form of a steering wheel), which is designed to provide precise control of the movement of the trolley, on the one hand, and on the other, thanks to an integrated display, to communicate to the operator the status of the battery and operating time. It can also be used to control the vertical movement hydraulics without pulling hands off the steering wheel. This makes it possible to control the direction of travel independently of the position of the cab.

Crosswise travel, i.e. simultaneous vertical and horizontal movement, should not only guarantee the convenience of picking but also allows to perform individual picking operations faster.

Cameras record picking process

ID Logistics, a service provider specializing in contract logistics, also invests in technological innovations in picking. These include in-house solutions designed by the Polish team of ID Logistics. Recently, the HD camera system for online registration of the picking process has been tested in cooperation with external partners. They are designed to optimise operating costs and increase control of warehouse processes.

Mobil Eye is a system of pan/tilt cameras (360 degrees) mounted on a special jib on forklifts. The cameras record the whole process of pallet and goods preparation (picking) in real time, according to the orders placed by stores. The recording is transferred to the system and stored on special high-capacity servers. This information can also be linked to WMS system data.

Thanks to the application of such a solution, when a customer submits a complaint concerning a particular pallet, it is possible to quickly play back the recording from the picking and confirm the correctness of picking specific articles in an appropriate quantity (high quality of HD recordings enables to see even the smallest details, e.g. the code placed on cartons can be read out). It is also possible to choose the right quality of the camera, depending on what is to be recorded.

In the future, the solution will be connected with the complaint management system, which will allow for an automatic search for a specific recording. With the code of an ordered item, it will be possible to view the played video, moving almost automatically to the recording of a specific transaction, recorded in the WMS and Mobile Eye system in a specific time (day, hour, minute, second). This will make it easier and quicker to handle complaints.

Scanning glove saves time

Another logistics operator, DB Schenker, introduces an intelligent scanning glove in Germany. In its warehouse in Eching near Munich, the company used ProGlove, a barcode scanner for picking shipments. A small and lightweight scanning device is attached to the glove that is worn by a warehouse worker. The ProGlove is placed on the back of the hand and is activated by squeezing the thumb and forefinger. After scanning the barcode, the employee receives feedback in the form of image, sound and vibration.

Visual communication with the warehouse management system (e.g. quantity, location of the next product) is carried out using a tablet. In its warehouse in Eching, DB Schenker processes orders for car parts for a vehicle manufacturer. The services include both basic storage functions, including inbound and outbound shipments, as well as car parts storage and empty packaging management.

Some goods are repackaged from disposable packagings to reusable ones. The ProGlove is designed to improve process efficiency (traditional ring scanners can be difficult to use) – the employee can constantly use both hands, without having to look for and reach for the scanner. This translates into time savings of up to 40% compared to conventional scanners.

Feedback from warehouse staff during the testing of the device was positive, so I am convinced that the use of ProGlove will increase productivity in our warehouse in Eching. In the near future, we are planning to introduce the device to more DB Schenker’s warehouses,” explains Tom Schmitt, Chief Commercial Officer at Schenker AG.

Photo: Youtube/DB Schenker w Polsce

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