What is picking?

Picking goods is one of the most costly and labor-intensive processes for both warehouses and distribution centers. Here we offer an overview about picking systems for an efficient logistics chain and rapid order.

Manual order picking of barcodes with RFID scanner

What is picking in logistics?

Order picking is basically the act of picking inventory for an order either manually or fully automated. There are various types of picking that can happen within a distribution center and vary based on inventory, industry, and scale of operations within the fulfillment center. Once an order is picked, it is packed and shipped to either the end-user customer or the retailer. 

Manual Picking

Diverse solutions for manual picking according to the person-to-goods principle round off our picking system product range. Here, too, your employees play a key role. We support your order pickers with smart modular solutions that optimize efficiency and reliability while promoting occupational health.

One of our systems for manual picking is based on picking with a signal lamp on the storage compartment (pick by light). This paperless system, which can be easily integrated into existing picking processes, is easy to operate and maintain and ensures maximum delivery reliability and short distances for your employees. With RF Picking and Pick by Voice, we also offer you further options in the field of manual picking.

Your benefits:

  • Highest picking quality

  • Optimal material flow

  • minimizing error rates

  • Maximum protection of your products

  • Easy to integrate into existing processes

  • Maximum scalability

  • Rapid implementation

  • Ergonomic workstations

Manual Picking

Maximizing ergonomics is key when it comes to picking and SSI SCHAEFER has an array of solutions for manual picking. Whether it's voice picking, pick by light, pick to tote...

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Picking of hanging garments with RFID scanner

Semi automated picking

We also provide you with solutions tailored to your needs for semi-automatic order picking. Speed, accuracy, gentle handling of the goods and ergonomics at the workplace for the order pickers are important for your sustainable success.

Ergonomically optimized Pick-to-Tote work stations with high picking performance in totes and cartons.

Our Advanced Pick Stations in the one- or two-level variants are ergonomically optimized Pick-to-Tote work stations with an increased picking speed by up to 1,000 picks per hour. Orders are picked directly into order bins and cartons. With clear operator guidance and optional bin compartment illumination, Pick by Light and light grid monitoring of the target points ensure superior picking quality. One particular advantage of this system is the well thought-out human-machine interface based on ergonomics@work!®. Light-controlled picking guidance, ergonomic design, and touch-friendly surfaces optimize and simplify working processes. The design of the system also takes operators with disabilities into consideration.

Your benefits:

  • Based on the goods-to-person principle

  • Highest picking quality, minimization of error rates to 0

  • Increase in picking performance by a factor of 10 compared to conventional picking

  • No false throws thanks to light grid monitoring

  • Picking directly into order containers

  • Ergonomically optimized

Semi Automated Picking

Humans remain an essential and economical factor when it comes to performing many picking activities. Using semi-automated picking systems from SSI SCHAEFER for your...

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Get and Pick

Fully automated picking

Automated picking also has an array of picking solutions which handle robotic solutions for piece, case, and layer picking. Automatic Picking Systems for automatic picking offer you fast processing of incoming orders with consistently high quality, regardless of the workload. Even at peak times, the material flow in your warehouse remains optimal and guarantees short throughput times.

In the area of ​​automatic order picking, you can fall back on a wide range of offers for a wide variety of requirements.

With the A-Frame we offer you an automatic picking solution that enables complex orders to be processed quickly, especially in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries - even at peak times.

Our robot-supported picking solutions include intelligent concepts for case picking with robots as well as systems for highly dynamic single-item picking. Integrated in an automatic logistics solution designed according to the patented 3D-MATRIX Solution®, innovative and contemporary picking solutions for the highest throughput requirements can be implemented. Due to the special design, the storage cube is treated as a system that is open on all sides - this creates independent processes while avoiding bottlenecks at the same time. Access to all items in the storage system is ensured and all connected goods-to-person workstations are served directly with the desired storage items.

Regardless of which SSI SCHAEFER system is the best solution for you for automatic order picking, you always benefit from a number of advantages when using it.

Your benefits:

  • High productivity at peak times

  • Optimum expandability thanks to the modular system

  • Optimum use of space thanks to high product density

  • Consistently high quality and reliability even at peak loads

  • Increased efficiency by eliminating time-consuming manual picking work

Automated Picking

SSI SCHAEFER’s picking systems compile complex orders fully automatically, reliably, and in the shortest possible time. Extremely rapid order processing with the very highest...

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What is the difference between person-to-goods and goods-to-person picking?

Person to goods or man to goods is somewhat self-explanatory, the picker will travel pick aisles or zones to pick inventory at the case level for order fulfillment. An operator can pick cases directly to a pallet (Pick to Pallet) or they can pick and place them on to a conveyor system (Pick to Belt) to be routed to a downstream pallet building or truck loading location. Replenishment can either be done manually or by an ASRS machine if reserve inventory is kept in an automated system. Most often the pick face for this type of picking is either a full pallet location (static or pallet flow) or case flow rack. It’s also very flexible from a throughput perspective as you can add labor as needed to cover peaks. A typical pick rate is 150 cases per hour up to 250 cases per hour.

Goods to person picking, also known as goods to man picking, is also fairly self-explanatory as the product that needs to be picked will be pulled from an ASRS system and brought to the employee or robot for picking. This type of picking increases employee productivity by eliminating unnecessary travel time, but obviously requires a higher investment due to the automation used to deliver the product to the picker. It’s a great way to add case picking functionality to an ASRS system, but keep in mind that the capacity is limited by the number of picking stations in the design. With labor being in demand and sometimes hard to find, operators are often substituted with robots with an increase in investment to achieve the highest level of automation, which also moves employees out of harsh frozen conditions. Typical pick rates are 350 cases per hour up to 650 cases per hour between a person or picking robot.

Which picking solution is right for my application?

There are several different types of picking for warehouse and fulfillment applications. While some may be perfectly suited for an application, others may not. It’s best to know the details of each type and speak to an expert. Depending on your storage process and workflows, an application can also include more than one type of order-picking solution. However, most fulfillment centers have several factors they want to accomplish when it comes to picking.

How to improve order picking accuracy?

Order accuracy rates are a must with today’s technology. With today’s e-commerce systems, order picking accuracy must be right. Returns can be costly to handle and every time a missed picked order goes out the door, it’s a risk of product damage and a lost customer.

Thankfully, there are ways to increase order picking accuracy. Regardless, if an application calls for a manual or automated picking, accuracy rates can improve with technology and workflow processes.

Depending on the warehouse or distribution center, there are varied picking methodologies like single order, zone picking, batch picking, or wave picking that may be used within the process. Furthermore, a complete automated solution may be coupled with a manual solution to increase order picking throughputs and accuracy rates. Since order picking affects the profitability of a distribution center, it’s important that the right picking methodology is used to get the most benefit. Typically, most processes aim for the following:

How to minimize travel distance for employees?

Logging steps for order picking isn’t the best way to stay in shape. In fact, it cost money for employees to travel further distances inside a distribution center. Today’s warehouse management software technology streamlines order picking paths and optimizes both inventory layout and manual picking based on order histories.

Is error free picking a reality?  

Yes, and it should be a top strategy of any warehouse solution. According to Retail TouchPoints, return rates for retail have now hit an all time high of 20%. With the pandemic, an onslaught of e-commerce orders gave way to a larger problem for retail—returns. Return rates typically range from 8 to 10 percent within a physical store. However, e-commerce rates are higher, and the holiday peak season can push upwards to 30%. Therefore, accuracy rates are extremely important when it comes to picking orders. An error-free picking solution is always best and will help maximize profits.

Can optimizing space increase pick rates?

Trying to get more real estate warehouse space can be tough right now. Even with rents moving upwards of 10%, warehouse space just isn’t always available. This scenario has distribution and fulfillment centers looking to maximize space. When it comes to picking, understanding placement of inventory is key. Optimization for both manual or automated picking enables a better workflow and saves money. If you haven’t done so already, talk with an expert about getting a data study completed. Sometimes it’s even small changes in workflow processes that can yield better returns and higher pick rates—even in a manual application.

What are the Different Order Picking Methods?

While each methodology has its pros and cons, it’s best to understand the basic differences. While one method may seem best for a particular application, it’s always best to consult a fulfillment expert to get more clarity and understanding of the advantages and disadvantages to each.

Batch Picking

Batch picking, also known as two stage picking or multi stage picking, is when multiple items are picked across multiple orders at the same time. Think about two to three orders coming in with one or two of the same items. Those SKUs are batched, and the items are all picked at once to save time. These items are brought to the order packing and assembled with the right quantities per order for pack out. Batch picking reduces travel time and reduces the stress of picking by a single order.

Cluster Picking

Cluster picking works similar to batch picking but with one caveat. Cluster picking is when an order is picked with multiple SKUs within an area. So, the SKUs that are being picked are targeted within one area. This also minimizes travel time, but it includes multiple SKU picks.

Discrete Order Pick

Order picking is probably one of the most common ways to pick an order. Although it may not be the most efficient depending upon the application. Also, it’s known as single order pick, one step picking or just plain order picking or piece picking. It’s simply picking an order by line item until the order is complete. This type of picking is mostly done in fulfillment centers that have low SKU volume or bulk products. 

Wave Picking

Wave picking works similarly to batch picking. However, the difference is that the order is picked over multiple shifts and employees. Software enables wave picking and it takes into consideration the shifts and peak order times. This type of picking gets extremely optimized and is used with high-volume SKUs and orders.

Zone Picking

Zone picking divides the fulfillment center into separate areas or zones. Employees are assigned to work a zone and picks within that area throughout his or her shift. If an order requires SKUs from multiple zones, the SKUs are picked from one zone and passed to another zone to fulfill the order—this is called sequential zone picking or pick and pass picking.

Software Solutions for your logistics

What is receiving?

Overview of store order picking area with conveyor Country Road Group fashion Omni Fulfilment Centre - Melbourne, Australia

What is conveying?

High-bay warehosue with storage and retrieval machine Exyz

What is storage?

Manual order picking of barcodes with RFID scanner

What is picking?

Shipping buffer

What is shipping?

SSI Carrier, Logistics software WAMAS, IT, RF Picking, Radio Frequency Picking,

What is a return?

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