Tools that make low and medium level picking easier
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Speed and accuracy are the key factors for efficient picking. Today we take a look at the low and medium level picking tools.
The picking process consists of searching for ordered goods and preparing them for shipment. Picking from floor level means preparing orders by placing total loads (e.g. pallets) on the floor, from which the units forming the final orders are taken out.
The most appropriate system for creating orders from this level is the grouping of total loads in the right zone. The loads can be arranged in one row, in several parallel rows and in a U-shape.
The first case (loads arranged in one row) occurs most often when the number of items of an average order (the most common order in warehouse operations) is not too large. The person preparing the order can do their work in an acceptable time without unnecessary effort. This model should also be used when the space available for picking requires it because the preparation zone is extensive.
The Mecalux logistics specialists recommend arranging total loads in two or more parallel rows if it is possible to double or multiply the picking area. An aisle should be left between the rows to allow the order pickers to pass through. The third possible configuration is U-shaped. It is suitable both for situations where there are few total loads as well as for situations where the number of such loads is high.
The biggest disadvantage of this solution is the necessity of providing a relatively large space. The main advantage is that the picking process is extremely fast.
Mecalux specialists also point out that the reasons for picking orders from the floor level include in particular lower investment costs. This is sufficient, but not the only reason to choose this solution. The picking speed is higher because the stacking of the load units on the floor reduces the time it takes to find the items or components of the order. Access to loads is easier than for example in the case of racks (units are on different levels). The tendency to make mistakes is less pronounced because it is possible to approach an item or part which needs to be removed in order to facilitate its identification, so the control is more precise.
The most suitable picking equipment for picking orders from the floor level are hand-operated and self-propelled pallet trucks, which are operated by the operator on foot or driven by him. Even the most simple versions of hand pallet trucks are suitable for picking orders from the floor level.
In so-called general racks or racks specially designed for picking, picking is usually carried out from a medium level. Intermediate levels shall be at heights not exceeding 3.5 or 4 m.
As a rule, order picking is faster and more efficient when less time is spent on lifting and lowering between racks
For this reason, although high levels allow better use of available space, it is advisable to create a picking zone at an intermediate level. Some high rotation products can then be assigned to low and medium rack levels and orders for these products can only be processed in the above-mentioned zone.
The use of medium level picking is useful in warehouses or picking areas where the daily number of orders is high, but also in distribution warehouses where a large number of orders is associated with a limited number of references.
When designing a zone or warehouse with intermediate level picking, manual shelf racks should rather be taken into account. Unloading and replenishment takes place in alternating cycles. If required by the picking speed, the system can be supplemented with several low-level order picking trolleys to increase productivity (provided that they leave the aisle as rarely as possible).
When high speed is required, and it is particularly important to minimize time loss, it is possible to place one trolley in each picking aisle.
In this case, a horizontal transport system, i.e. conveyors or automatic trolleys, must be used in the front aisle of the racks. As a result, picking operators only need to unload completed orders placed on these units.
In those distribution warehouses where a large number of orders is assigned to a certain number of references, these references should be arranged in the intermediate zone of the facility. The medium level order picking trolley is then very useful. It helps to avoid major time losses that would occur if the picking of these orders was carried out with high-level picking trolleys (the investment is less costly, the cost of medium level picking trolleys is lower than that of high-level picking equipment).