How accurate is your warehouse's picking operation? In an ideal world, every order that gets picked and sent out to a customer would be perfect. Reality is different. Pick errors can happen for any number of reasons. Understanding some of the more common picking errors can allow you to prevent them from continuing.
- Picking the wrong item because it is in the wrong bin location:
Errors in putaway activities can directly cause errors in picking. A part placed in the wrong bin makes it very easy for a picker to add the wrong part to an order. Proper labeling, barcode scanners, and warehouse management software tracking can make this less likely to happen.
- Picking a part with a number close to the correct one:
For some warehouse managers, keeping items ordered by SKU just makes sense. However, it can cause all kinds of trouble with picking. Part 80112 is easily mistaken for part 80113, which sits right next to it. Part numbers should be separated whenever possible. Using a barcode scanner in the picking process can eliminate this problem.
- Not picking the right quantity:
An order needs 10 pieces of a certain item and the picker gets 11 out of the bin. Part of the picking process needs to include the count. The picker needs to take a count of the items taken and enter it into the scanner or record it on the pick ticket.
- Items in multiple locations:
The same part can be placed in multiple bin locations throughout the warehouse. If one of the locations doesn't have the correct quantity to fill an order, the picker will need to pick the remaining amount from another location. This scenario happens often. To make sure the warehouse inventory count stays up-to-date, the picker must track his every pick and the associated location.
- Picking the wrong unit of measure:
Your warehouse may carry the same product in different package sizes. Instead of picking 2 10-count items, as the pick ticket says, the picker may take 2 5-count or 1 20-count. Each package size should have its own labeling and SKU. Pickers should be required to scan that label and verify the SKU.
- Picking a part because it is not properly labeled:
When an item is received into stock, it should have a label solidly attached to it that directly tracks it in inventory. If a part does not have a label, it should be removed from stock and relabeled properly. A picker should never take a product that does not have a label.
- Making a disallowed substitution:
There are times it may be necessary to substitute one item for another, especially in the case of inventory shortages. It may be something as simple as substituting a different package size. In other cases, it may be substituting a completely different part. Any substitutions must be tracked in the warehouse management software, and pickers should not be allowed to deviate from the rules.
- Mixing parts from two or more orders:
Having a picker pull items for multiple orders during one pick run makes sense for efficiency. However, it is a disaster waiting to happen if picking and packing are not done carefully. When a picker returns to the packing area, all items need to be scanned before being packed to ensure they are going to the right order.
Taking action to prevent these common picking errors will make your warehouse much more efficient. One critical step to take is to upgrade your warehouse management software and bring automation in. What is stopping you from taking action?