18 Tips to Boost Picking Speed

These tips can help your warehouse improve efficiency and speed of your manual picking

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Productivity and efficiency are key in making any business successful. If you're using manual picking, efficiently improving picking speed can help improve your business. Here are 18 tips to help you boost your picking speed.

  1. Use end of the aisle floor space. To optimize picking in the warehouse, consider all available vertical and horizontal space to help shorten distance and time for pickers to complete the pick.
  2. Break floor pallet locations in "two" with a new cross bar or adding a second SKU vertically divided on a single pallet location. This will create a half-pallet floor pick creating more replenishment but will be more than offset by gains in picking productivity.
  3. Send emptied SKU cartons from the pick bins down the conveyor to avoid clutter. Have someone pulling and breaking those down at the packing or quality merges.
  4. Avoid re-handling. Pick into the shipping carton—not a plastic tote—and create a "one and done" pick process.
  5. Use in-line scales to perform quality control checks by product weight.
  6. Pre-label the ship cartons before you erect the carton or start the pick. They're easier to handle that way and maximize worker productivity while minimizing staging area requirements.
  7. After each zone is picked in a conveyor pick, continually rotate cartons on conveyors 90 percent to signal the completion of a worker's picks within the specific zone picks to the next picker.
  8. Batch single picked orders to temporary work zones in an unused or remote corner of the distribution center.
  9. Consider an in-line carton sealer and erector to boost the pick line speed.
  10. Maximize the use of casual labor to control costs.
  11. Don’t mix multiple small items in one single, large bin. This could slow productivity and lead to shipment errors.
  12. For small items, make sure each individual SKU number has its own bin. Switch to smaller bins if space is a concern.
  13. Be smart about inventory placement and organization. If you have related parts that tend to get ordered together organize inventory by sales rather than SKU.
  14. Choose the right racks for your warehouse. Floor racks are easier and faster for pickers on foot. Elevated racks are easier for conveyor belts and automated picking systems.
  15. RFID (Radio Frequently Identification) can provide up-to-date location information on products that need to be picked.
  16. Store items that move out faster in prime picking areas and move slower moving inventory to other remote areas of your warehouse.
  17. Consider vision picking or AR (augmented reality). The 2018 MHI Annual Industry Report found that the adoption for wearables and mobile technology will grow from 23 percent to 72 percent in the next five years.
  18. Consider automated/robotic picking systems or upgrading from current automated systems.

Additional resources:

Tips to Improve Work Flow and Boost Picking Speed

5 Ways to Increase Warehouse Picking Efficiency

Wearables/Augmented Reality Software Boost Order Picking 25%, Pilot Test Shows

Wearables Boost Productivity, Profitability and Employee Satisfaction

Robotics Growth in the Warehouse