Picking and Carting: Your Guide to a Smoother Warehouse

Streamlining Warehouse Operations with Advanced Picking and Carting

The efficiency of the picking and carting processes plays a pivotal role in the smooth operation of a warehouse. As a warehouse leader, understanding and optimising these processes is key to staying ahead in the competitive supply chain management landscape. Picking and carting are more than just fundamental tasks; they are the lifelines of efficient warehouse operations, directly impacting order fulfilment, customer satisfaction, and overall operational success. Let’s delve into how these processes work, and the crucial role technology plays in enhancing their efficiency and accuracy.

Understanding Picking and Packing in Warehouse Operations

Picking and carting are integral to warehouse operations and critical in order fulfilment. Understanding what these processes entail and how they function within the warehouse environment is essential for optimising efficiency and accuracy in logistics and distribution.


Picking: The Foundation of Order Fulfillment

Picking in a warehouse refers to selecting specific products from storage locations to fulfil customer orders. It’s the first and crucial step in the order fulfilment cycle. Warehouse staff, often called pickers, are assigned to retrieve the right quantity and type of products based on the order details. This process requires precision and speed to ensure that orders are prepared accurately and promptly. Picking can be carried out in various ways, such as discrete picking, batch picking, or zone picking, depending on the size and nature of the warehouse operations.


Carting: Facilitating Efficient Movement of Goods

Carting follows the picking process and involves transporting the picked items from the storage areas to the packing or shipping stations. This step is essential for moving goods through the warehouse efficiently. Carting can be manual, involving hand-pushed carts or trolleys, or automated, using conveyor belts, robots, or other mechanised equipment. The method chosen often depends on the scale of the operation and the type of goods being handled.

The carting process minimises handling time and reduces the likelihood of damage to goods, ensuring that products remain in the best condition from storage to shipping. Well-organised carting operations can significantly improve the speed and efficiency of order processing.

Benefits of Picking and Carting in Warehouse Operations

Picking and carting are essential elements of warehouse management that significantly contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of order fulfilment. These processes, when optimised, offer numerous benefits that enhance overall warehouse operations. Let’s delve into the key advantages they bring to the table.


Enhanced Operational Efficiency

  1. Streamlined Workflow: Picking and carting streamline the workflow in a warehouse. Moving products from storage to the packing area efficiently reduces the time to fulfil orders. This increased efficiency can lead to a higher throughput, enabling warehouses to handle more orders within shorter timeframes.
  2. Reduced Handling Time: Implementing an effective picking and carting system minimises the handling time of items. Less handling speeds up the process and reduces the likelihood of product damage, ensuring the products reach the packing station in pristine condition.


Improved Accuracy in Order Fulfillment

  1. Minimising Errors: Picking and carting, mainly when supported by technology like barcode scanning and WMS, significantly reduces the chances of errors. Accurate picking ensures that the right products in the correct quantities are selected, which is crucial for customer satisfaction.
  2. Better Inventory Management: These processes can improve inventory management by providing real-time updates on stock levels. This accuracy in inventory tracking helps maintain optimal stock levels and prevents issues like overstocking or stockouts.


Cost Reduction

  1. Lower Labor Costs: Efficient picking and carting can lead to a reduction in labour costs. By reducing the time and effort needed for these tasks, warehouses can achieve the same output with fewer resources or reallocate staff to other necessary tasks, optimising labour utilisation.
  2. Reduced Overheads: With streamlined processes, the overall operational costs can decrease. Efficient use of time and resources in picking and carting translates to lower energy costs and less wear and tear on equipment.


Enhanced Flexibility and Scalability

  1. Adaptability to Demand Fluctuations: Effective picking and carting strategies provide the flexibility to adapt to changing demand. During peak periods, a well-organised system can scale up to meet increased order volumes without compromising efficiency.
  2. Customisable to Specific Needs: These processes can be tailored to the specific operational needs of the warehouse. Whether handling fragile items or dealing with varying sizes and shapes of products, picking and carting can be customised for optimal handling.

The Role of Technology in Picking and Carting

The introduction and integration of technology in picking and carting processes have brought about a significant transformation. These technological advancements streamline operations and enhance accuracy and efficiency, which is crucial for meeting the demands of modern logistics and supply chains.


Revolutionising Picking with Technological Tools

  1. Automated Picking Systems: Advanced technologies, such as automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and robotic picking solutions, have revolutionised the picking process. These systems can quickly and accurately locate and retrieve items, reducing manual labour and minimising errors.
  2. Wearable Technology and Mobile Devices: Wearable devices, such as smart glasses and wrist-mounted terminals, equip pickers with hands-free solutions that guide them through the most efficient picking routes. Similarly, mobile devices equipped with barcode scanners and RFID technology expedite the picking process by ensuring accurate and swift identification of products.
  3. Warehouse Management Systems (WMS): WMS optimises picking operations. These systems provide real-time data on inventory levels and locations, enabling pickers to make informed decisions and follow the most efficient paths through the warehouse.


Enhancing Carting with Automation and Data Analytics

  1. Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs): AGVs and automated carts have become integral in modern warehouses for carting operations. These self-navigating vehicles transport goods from the picking areas to packing or shipping stations, minimizing manual effort and increasing the speed of operations.
  2. Conveyor Systems: Conveyor belts and sortation systems efficiently move large volumes of products within the warehouse. They are particularly effective in high-volume environments, reducing the time and physical strain of manually carting goods.
  3. Data Analytics for Route Optimisation: Advanced analytics tools analyse historical data and real-time inputs to optimize picking and carting routes. By predicting the most efficient paths and processes, these tools help reduce travel time within the warehouse, leading to faster order fulfilment.


The Impact of Technology on Worker Efficiency and Accuracy

The integration of technology in picking and carting accelerates these processes and dramatically enhances order fulfilment accuracy. Automated systems reduce the likelihood of human error, ensuring that customers receive the correct items promptly. Moreover, technology empowers warehouse workers by providing them with tools that make their tasks more accessible and more efficient, leading to increased job satisfaction and productivity.

Wrapping Up

The evolution of picking and carting in warehouse operations, especially with technology integration, marks a significant leap towards operational excellence. For warehouse leaders, embracing these technological innovations is not an option but a necessity to meet the growing demands of modern logistics. Automated systems, wearable technology, and advanced data analytics are tools and partners in achieving greater efficiency, accuracy, and worker satisfaction. By investing in these technologies and continually optimising picking and carting processes, warehouses can ensure they are not only meeting the current needs of their supply chain but are also prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the future. The journey towards a streamlined, technologically advanced warehouse operation is towards a more productive, efficient, and competitive business.




Frequently Asked Questions

What is carting in a warehouse?

Carting in a warehouse refers to the process of moving items from one place to another within the warehouse facility. This typically occurs after the picking process, where the selected items are transported from the storage areas to the packing stations or directly to the shipping docks. Carting can be performed manually using carts or trolleys, or it can be automated through conveyor belts, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), or other mechanised systems. The efficiency of the carting process is crucial in minimising the handling time of goods and ensuring a smooth transition through the order fulfilment pipeline.
The picking process in a warehouse is the action of selecting specific products from storage locations to fulfil customer orders. It is a critical step in the order fulfilment process and directly impacts the accuracy and efficiency of the warehouse operations. Pickers, or warehouse workers responsible for this task, use order sheets or digital devices to find and collect the correct items in the necessary quantities. The picking process can vary in complexity based on the size and nature of the warehouse, the variety of products stored, and the volume of orders being processed.
Picking and packing in a warehouse are two interconnected activities essential to the order fulfilment process. Picking involves selecting and gathering the right products in the correct quantities from the warehouse inventory, as per customer orders. Packing follows picking; it involves placing the picked items into appropriate packaging for shipping. Packing also includes adding necessary shipping labels and ensuring that the items are secured for transit. Both picking and packing must be carried out with precision and efficiency to ensure timely and accurate delivery to customers.
In warehouse operations, various strategies are employed to optimise the picking process, with three common approaches being discrete picking, batch picking, and zone picking. Discrete picking involves handling each order individually from start to finish before moving on to the next one. While this method is straightforward, it can be less time-efficient in larger operations with a high volume of orders. Batch picking, on the other hand, entails picking multiple orders simultaneously. This approach significantly reduces the number of trips to the same location, proving particularly efficient for warehouses that handle a large number of small orders. Lastly, zone picking is a method where the warehouse is segmented into different zones, and pickers are assigned to these specific areas. Orders are picked as they progress through the different zones, making this strategy well-suited for larger warehouses with a wide variety of inventory. Each of these picking strategies has its own set of advantages and can be chosen based on the specific needs and layout of the warehouse.
To enhance speed and efficiency as a warehouse picker, several key practices can be adopted. First, gaining a thorough understanding of the warehouse layout significantly reduces time spent locating items. Utilising technological aids such as Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), barcode scanners, or RFID technology can streamline the picking process. Keeping the workspace organised is also crucial for efficient operations. Adopting efficient picking strategies like batch or zone picking minimises unnecessary travel within the warehouse. Physical fitness plays a vital role in maintaining the stamina required for picking, while an openness to continuously learn and adapt to new methods and technologies further boosts efficiency. These practices collectively contribute to improving not just individual performance but the overall productivity of warehouse operations.

Ready to see Clarus for yourself?