Sudden spikes in demand during the 2020 pandemic forced many e-commerce distribution centers and warehouses to reevaluate their order fulfillment workflows to meet demands within a timely fashion. Past shipping time frame standards of 3 to 5 business days were cut to as little as same-day delivery. Operations seeking to thrive during the pandemic began to alter picking processes, leaving room for split-case picking to dominate most efficient workflows as opposed to full-pallet picking. Research conducted by DC Velocity shows that almost half of e-commerce fulfillment centers resorted to split-case case picking, resulting in higher adaptability and success rates during one of the most trying times in human history. Now, even though businesses and consumers must adjust to a post-pandemic world, the on-demand mindset still lingers. Because it benefited so many warehouses, it is recommended that today’s operations take careful notes on the foundations of efficient split-case picking to sustain expectations for faster order fulfillment.
Establishing an efficient split-case picking system
Similar to a grocery store run, split-case picking is when one picker holding a pick list travels throughout the aisles -preferably in an optimized pick path- and assembles individual orders by selecting products within fixed locations. When done correctly, split-case picking decreases travel times while allowing pickers to focus on multiple orders at once within their pick path. To create a dependable picking system as this, the following basic technologies have been consistently recommended by leading distributors:
- Automated data capture – As with any warehouse operation, manual data entry has consistently proven error-prone, yet in split-case picking processes, it can also slow down workers since they are not able to locate multiple orders at once if lists are not updated. Plus, if picklists are inaccurate or missing information, they must travel back to a computer terminal to correct this, adding to the travel time. Wearable technologies such as headsets, wearable computers, and ring scanners work together to automate data capture while directing pick paths through a lightweight mobility solution.
- Simplistic data sharing – Studies suggest that by 2040, over 90% of all purchases will funnel through e-commerce sites. As a result, supply chains must now integrate secured data sharing systems through enterprise-ready operating systems and protected cyberspaces to avoid leaks and attacks. Intelligent warehouse management systems, inventory locationing, and automatic storage/retrieval systems all work together to amplify safe data accessibility from anywhere in the warehouse through one protected platform of your choice.
- Real-time inventory locationing – When it comes to maximized locationing precision, RFID technology is setting the standards day by day with its ability to track stock levels, location, and storage status all in real-time via your handheld. Offering 99.99% inventory accuracy, RFID tracking systems can be leveraged to create seamless pick paths based on current stock availability. As changes are implemented through your locationing system, employees can proactively reroute as needed, preserving smoother workflows from sudden changes in demand.
- Wall-to-wall connectivity – To support all these technologies, an effective connectivity system must be established. Enterprise-ready wireless systems can be implemented to sustain unbroken sessions and eliminate dead zones from daily operations. A careful preliminary site survey can ensure your facility’s space is ready to accommodate current and future digital devices for faster and seamless solution deployment.
Once these basic factors are integrated, deploying more complex systems and technologies becomes simpler, augmenting overall ROI with less bottlenecks and extensive training times. Meet up with a modernization specialist to see how you can continue to uphold maximum accuracy and speed with a picking solution crafted for high demand.