Wave Picking: How to Boost Your Warehouse Efficiency

Learn how it streamlines inventory control, and expert tips for implementing this game-changing technique.

May 24, 2023

Wave Picking in action in the warehouse

Managing a warehouse is no walk in the park, especially when juggling inventory, customer demands, and cost reduction. Enter wave picking – the superhero of warehouse management. Let’s look at what it is, how it works, and some nifty tips to help you implement it like a pro.

Wave Picking fun graphic

Wave Picking: The What & Why

Wave picking is a super cool strategy that groups orders together based on criteria like product type, location, or delivery time. Instead of picking one order at a time, wave picking lets pickers grab items for multiple orders in a single warehouse sweep. Afterwards, they sort the orders at the packing station and send them to their destinations.

Why is wave picking all the rage? Because it’s a game-changer for warehouse efficiency and accuracy. Supported by data that highlights its effectiveness in improving warehouse operations:

Boosted productivity: A study from the Georgia Institute of Technology highlights that wave picking can enhance picking productivity by up to 25%. This is because pickers can gather items for multiple orders in a single trip, reducing time spent roaming around the warehouse.

Better accuracy: Honeywell Intelligrated’s case study discovered that wave picking could improve order accuracy by up to 99.9%. This is due to its ability to organise better and group products, minimizing errors during picking.

Lower labour costs: Research published in the International Journal of Production Economics revealed that implementing wave picking can result in a 20% decrease labour costs. By allowing workers to pick items more efficiently, businesses can save on labour expenses and potentially reduce the number of pickers required.

Improved space utilisation: Wave picking optimises warehouse space by grouping similar items, simplifying locating and picking products. As mentioned in a Supply Chain Management Review report, this leads to enhanced space utilisation and lower inventory costs.

Increased customer satisfaction: According to a survey by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, 75% of supply chain managers believe wave picking boosts customer satisfaction. By diminishing errors and processing orders more swiftly, businesses can ensure customers receive their orders promptly and with fewer mistakes.

Wave Picking in Action: The How-To

Ready to make wave picking work for you? Here’s a step-by-step guide to making it happen:

  1. Plan Your Wave Picking Strategy: Kick things off by planning the picking process. Identify the orders you’ll pick, group them based on your chosen criteria, and determine the order in which you’ll pick the waves.
  2. Match Pickers to Waves: Now, it’s time to assign pickers to the waves. Look at their skills and availability to ensure each wave has enough pickers for an efficient process.
  3. Build the Pick List: With waves and pickers in place, organise the pick list for maximum efficiency. Arrange it based on wave order, and list items in the order they’ll be picked.
  4. Start Picking: With the pick list ready, launch the picking process. Pickers follow the list and grab items for all the orders in their wave. Once the wave is done, they separate the items at the packing station and send them to their final destinations.

Wave picking can revolutionise your warehouse operations, boosting efficiency and slashing costs. So try it – and watch your warehouse become a well-oiled machine!

Real-Life Tips and Insights

We asked an ex-operations manager for a major logistics business if they could spill the tea with some tips on their time wave picking. This is what they had to say…

“I recognise the potential of wave picking to increase efficiency and precision in warehouse operations. Nonetheless, to fully harness the power of this technique, we must approach it with a well-planned strategy and robust execution. Here are some practical tips and real-world experiences to guide you in achieving success with wave picking:

Optimising Warehouse Space

To maximise the benefits of wave picking, making the most of your warehouse space is crucial. Organise your warehouse to minimise travel time between pick locations, eliminate bottlenecks in high-traffic zones, and fully exploit available vertical space.

Adopting Automation

Integrating automation into your warehouse operations can significantly improve the effectiveness and accuracy of wave picking. Automated picking systems can reduce labour expenses and enhance picking precision, while automated conveyor systems can facilitate the smooth movement of goods throughout the warehouse.

Effective Staffing and Training

Selecting the right personnel and providing them with adequate training is essential for the success of wave picking. Align your staffing with your warehouse’s requirements and provide comprehensive training to ensure that pickers are proficient in the wave-picking process and the technologies employed in the warehouse.

The Advantages of Wave Picking

Wave picking offers several benefits when compared to alternative picking methods. Some of the most notable advantages are:

Increased Efficiency

Wave picking can significantly enhance the efficiency of warehouse operations. By grouping orders based on specific criteria, pickers can complete the picking process quicker and with less travel time between pick locations.

Greater Accuracy

Wave picking improves picking accuracy by reducing errors associated with individual orders. Processing multiple orders simultaneously minimises the chances of mistakes and allows pickers to identify and correct discrepancies swiftly.

Reduced Costs

Wave picking can lead to substantial savings in labour costs related to order picking. By decreasing the number of pickers required to finish the picking process, wave picking increases efficiency while reducing labour expenditures.

In Conclusion

Wave picking is a widely adopted method with numerous advantages over other methods. It can enhance efficiency, boost accuracy, and lower labour costs. However, achieving success requires meticulous planning and execution, including proper staffing and training, maximising space utilisation, and integrating with other warehouse processes.

Discover the power of Clarus WMS’s wave-picking capabilities and experience a game-changing transformation in your warehouse operations! By intelligently grouping orders with similar characteristics like item type or location, our Warehouse Management System optimises the order fulfilment process, saving time and boosting accuracy. As a result, you’ll enjoy increased productivity, reduced operational costs, and delighted customers.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to revolutionise your warehouse operations. Book a demo with us today and witness the remarkable benefits of Clarus WMS’s wave picking capabilities! 🚀📦

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