• Inventory/Warehouse
  • Voice Recognition

4 Warehouse Inventory Picking Strategies to Improve Your Supply Chain

Written by Elias Schoelmann
August 18, 2015

As workers move among the warehouse aisles, inventory control managers want to ensure they are using the best possible strategies when picking products and supplies. Each warehouse is different, however, and a picking strategy must be chosen based on the layout, products and equipment that workers are utilizing.

DOWNLOAD: Learn about 3 hidden costs of manual processes for warehouse inventory »


1. Batch Picking

Preparing multiple orders at the same time is called batch picking. Workers exercising this strategy move through the warehouse collecting items for numerous clients or production needs in a single trip. Supply Chain 24/7 reported 50% of picking time is usually spent on travel; batch picking is utilized to reduce multiple returns to different areas.

Batch picking is best suited for large warehouses that fill multiple orders. If companies have a variety of items that need to be sorted through, they may see the benefit of preparing orders together. Batch pickers should have mobile devices so they can view order details and report progress. A segmented warehouse cart is also ideal for preparing numerous groups of items in a single batch.

2. Zone Picking

A warehouse with a very diverse inventory may wish to utilize zone picking. In this strategy, the warehouse is divided into different areas. Workers are assigned to a specific zone and each one is in charge of picking items from that area.

ShelfPlus, an industrial storage provider, stated zone picking works best when there is a warehouse automation system in place that can divide the facility into sections based on product descriptions, seasonal demands or other criteria. Warehouses featuring a centralized conveyor belt tool that runs near all areas could benefit from zone picking.

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3. Wave Picking

InventoryOps.com described wave picking as a strategy that combines batch and zone options. Employees move through the entire warehouse picking multiple items at the same time from different zones. The products picked are later organized for individual orders or purposes.

In order to practice wave picking, a warehouse needs a large area set aside for order preparation. Barcode scanners and mobile devices can help employees sort through the items picked from the shelves.

LEARN MORE: Why mobile barcoding is a best practice for the modern digital supply chain »


4. Voice Picking

The newest inventory strategy companies are utilizing is voice picking. Using a headset and mobile computer attachment, employees are able to pick items and report performance as they go.

Voice picking supplies the workers with the information they need through a wrist-attached computer or vocal instructions delivered on the headset. Voice picking works well in conjunction with other strategies, it facilities data visibility for batch picking and reporting for zone methods.

WATCH VIDEO: See how much more efficient your warehouse would be with voice picking as compared to screen and keyboard picking »

As an SCM software company, RFgen knows the primary advantages of voice picking revolve around improving the speed, efficiency and safety of warehouse operations. It works in small warehouses, where employees can stay in contact with a single supervisor, or large distribution centers, where the tech tools provide pickers the complicated order details they need.