Total picking accuracy is the goal for any material handling operation, but how do you get there? Ensuring accuracy requires organisation, strategic flexibility and of course this often comes at a cost. This blog will help you figure out your cost-per-error and provides tips for improving your warehouse pick rate.
How to Improve Your Pick Rate Accuracy
Within any business there are tight timescales to get a product order in, processed and out to a customer. If a customer receives a late order or the wrong item, they may decide to do business elsewhere next time. Order picking accuracy ensures that the right product goes to the right customer on time, every time.
Where possible, use visual aids to bring attention to specific requirements of the order. For instance, if you offer a product in either green or red, highlighting the product number in the appropriate colour will work as an additional visual indicator for the order picker. Also, any orders calling for special requirements (special shipping instructions, collateral material, etc.) can be colour coded as well.
Smart sorting of orders can be another useful method of reducing pick errors. If this is feasible, you can pre-sort orders into groups of similar kinds so that orders requiring the same product are fulfilled together.For example, if you have 15 orders that include pallets of flour, send one picker to fill that part of all those orders. Not only does this increase the efficiency with which orders are fulfilled, but also keeps the picker focused on one type of order at a time.
Intelligent positioning of products
The less travel time taken by an order picker, the better. You should store orders as close as possible to the pick/pack area to minimise an order picker’s travel time. But when picking similar items that might be prone to pick errors (for instance, multiple colours of the same item), make sure you don’t stack easily confused products next to each other.
Working Out Cost-Per-Error
Warehouse picking error rates are more than a percentage of hits against misses. They come with a real-world cost. Understanding the cost of each error can help you budget your pick rate improvements. Depending on your cost-per-error, you may actually see diminishing returns if you're spending more money on pick accuracy than a miss-pick would cost.Here are a few factors to consider:
- The cost of a lost customer
- The cost of re-shipping incorrect orders
- Returns costs
- Admin costs
- Additional handling costs
- Additional shipping costs
Apply that cost to the number of errors you're getting to build a cash flow model that can help you inform your error rate reduction strategy. New order picking equipment such as pick light systems, voice directed picking, or other large investments may all make sense once you understand the cost of doing nothing.
Process changes, incentive programs, or additional quality checking can have significant impacts as well, with reduced up front costs. The key is that the benefits of boosting your accuracy rate must exceed the costs of doing so.
Be careful that a relentless focus on accuracy doesn’t reduce throughput. Late orders can be as damaging as incorrect ones. Ultimately, it is all about relative costs and benefits. Is that worth it? What does an incorrect order cost? What would it cost to completely remove all errors from your order picking operation?
Before you start tackling your warehouse picking error rates, it's important to know the cost of your losses. Pick rate accuracy helps streamline your processes, improves customer satisfaction and keeps your business running smoothly.
Pick accuracy is just one aspect in the productive and efficient running of your operation. As well as pick accuracy, you need your order pickers to be able to operate as efficiently as possible. This is where our wide selection of forklifts and order pickers can help. No matter your set up, we can provide you with material handling equipment that can help you accurately and efficiently run your business.
Keep up to date with PHL and all things forklift machinery.