Feedback of the Week -
Order Picking and Grinning:
Slot choices should be performed dynamically rather than as a batch process.
To do this, place the picks by products in one or more look ahead scheduled cycles, usually to match the transportation schedule and transit times.
If you keep an inventory count by slot, you will know in which cycle you must replenish a slot.
Do not place a replenishment in the same slot, but determine how long, number of scheduled cycles, it has taken to empty the pallet or case rack and then adjust the position within a prioritized and commoditized slot list for that product according to its priority and handling characteristics. Select an empty slot according to the latest determined position in the list and direct the replenishment to that slot one cycle ahead of when it will be needed.
This produces the following advantages:
1. Every slot will be picked to empty. This will verify the inventory placed in the slot and remove the need for cycle counting. Cycle counting is - in effect, a continuous process and the inventory is always self adjusting.
2. Dynamic slotting is continuously performed, reducing walk times and improving efficiency.
3. In the event of an incorrect receiving count, the picker who may have been requested to pick 4 to empty a slot, can only pick 2, but is directed to pick the balance at the slot that has been prepared with that product on the previous cycle. Hence, the count of emergency picks will be zero, provided there is any of the product in the building.
4. Using RF bar code readers, the picker and the WMS control system are in continuous communication so corrections to picking due to incorrect receiving counts can be inserted at point in the pick cycle beyond the pick which uncovered the shortage.
5. In the reverses case, when told to pick 4 to zero and there is product still in the slot, the picker can enter, balance X. This will adjust the original received case count on that pallet and, in many cases, correct for a shortage count on some other pallet that was received as part of the same shipment. This reduces claims and their associated paperwork; allows reprimands to the actual receiver (we used a financial deduction to the receiver and a financial incentive to the picker).
As the system architect of the custom Canadian Tire's DC control system, I installed this process in 1989 and it has been used successfully ever since.
Tyler Data Processing Consultants, Inc., and
CEO, eF3 Systems, Inc.
More on Order Picking:
Excellent thoughts on order picking. I agree with your assessment that today’s conventional order picking strategies are often stale and based upon decades old technology.
I think you were getting close to a point that I’d like to make, but did not make it explicitly. We are finding that many of the order technologies used in the fulfillment process have been chosen wisely and are appropriately selected for their particular use. What we do find, however, is that they are not ‘used’ correctly.
For example, if an operator, regardless of picking technology, can pick 100 items per minute at peak, why can’t they pick 100 items per minute all the time? The answer does not often lie in the picking technology; it lies in how the picking technology is driven.
As stale as the picking technology may seem, real time order/pick processing software is even staler in many cases. I truly believe that wave-less order fulfillment’s time, particularly in the DTC environment, has come. It requires stepping way outside the box for many supply chain professionals, and truly combines the best of picking, packing and sorting processes. It demands a robust picking strategy, real-time labor optimization (not management) and a ‘thick’ WCS to work. It’s now being proven in the marketplace, in true ‘pull’ order fulfillment environments.
Robert D. Carver, Jr.
VARGO™ Adaptive Software LLC
On Better Supply Chain Software
We're currently in the process of installing Manhattan's Labor Management software. What impresses me the most about the company isn't the software, but their focus on change management. Engineered labor standards are great, but if the supervisors and managers aren't reviewing the data every day and having conversations with their employees, the project is a waste.
Manhattan has not only provided consultants who help derive the standards and enhance the system to meet customer requirements, but they also ask key questions... "Are the supervisors posting their reports?" "Are they having conversations with the low performers?" "Have the HR policies been finalized as of yet?" "Do the employees know what they're responsible for?"
In addition, on the front end of the process, Manhattan makes sure that the SOPs are correct, that the SOPs are communicated to the associates and that they are all following the SOPs (method observations). And after the standards are engineered, there is a validation process, which involves heavy floor time for the supervisors.
In essence, I am agreeing with the point of your column. In the case of Manhattan Associates, I can honestly say that their focus is on results.
They come in talking about how they can help you achieve a 20-30% improvement in productivity, and they show you how.
On Keys to WMS Implementation:
- Make sure you have a thorough physical inventory in place: terminals, barcode reader, printers, etc. Make head count and see you have enough. This hardware stops working easily. Make sure you have spares (on site or at vendor).
- See all printouts (reports, barcode staples) are printed correctly, from the right printer!
- Make sure there is a developing environment for the software.
- Make a clear cut and make sure you know where is the “border” of the system.
- Make sure you have mapped all the business process relevant to the implementation.
- Make cross check between process and users. See that every user had instructions and training for all the process he is involved in, and make sure that in every step in each process there is a trained user.
- Start with access personal (10-15%) to cover learning curve. These workers change rate is high and it will be easy to reduce the amount as the project stabilizes.
- Think about a promotion system that is built upon the WMS data. Make sure it takes into consideration personal and group performance.