Inventory Picking Procedure
Inventory picking procedure refers to the method used by warehouse or distribution center staff to locate, pick, and prepare for shipment the items specified in an order. It is an important process in the supply chain and can have a significant impact on customer satisfaction, warehouse efficiency, and operational costs.
While the specific procedures can vary widely depending on the nature of the business and the complexity of the warehouse, a typical inventory picking process might look something like this:
- Receive and Validate the Order: The process begins when an order is received from a customer. The order is reviewed and validated to ensure it is complete and correct.
- Plan the Picking Route: Based on the location of the items in the warehouse, the best route is determined for picking the items. This can be manually done by experienced warehouse staff, or increasingly, with the help of warehouse management system (WMS) software.
- Pick the Items: Using the pick list (which lists the items to be picked) and following the planned route, the picker collects the items from the shelves. This can be done manually or using equipment like forklifts or automated picking systems.
- Check the Items: The picker checks the items against the pick list to ensure accuracy. Some businesses use barcode scanners to increase speed and reduce errors in this step.
- Package the Items: Once all items have been picked and checked, they are packaged for shipment. This usually includes putting the items in a box or other shipping container and adding any necessary packing material to protect the items during transit.
- Prepare for Shipment: The package is labeled with the shipping address and any other necessary information. It’s then moved to a staging area to await pickup by the shipping carrier.
- Update Inventory Records: The inventory records are updated to reflect the items that have been picked and are no longer available in the warehouse.
Inventory picking procedures can be optimized in several ways to increase efficiency and reduce errors, such as by implementing a warehouse management system, using efficient picking methods (like batch picking or zone picking), and training staff to follow best practices.
Example of Inventory Picking Procedure
Let’s consider a hypothetical online electronics store that sells a variety of products, from smartphones to laptops and accessories. Here’s how their inventory picking procedure might look:
- Receive and Validate the Order: A customer places an order for a smartphone, a laptop, and a set of headphones. The order is received, validated, and processed in the store’s system.
- Plan the Picking Route: The store uses a Warehouse Management System (WMS), which organizes items by categories and assigns each a specific location in the warehouse. The WMS generates a picking list that includes the location of each item and plans the optimal route for the picker to minimize travel time.
- Pick the Items: The warehouse worker (picker) receives the picking list on their handheld device. Following the route provided by the WMS, they go to the location of the smartphone first, then the laptop, and finally the headphones, picking each item and scanning its barcode to confirm the correct item has been picked.
- Check the Items: After picking all the items, the picker checks the items against the picking list on their handheld device. The system verifies the items based on the barcode scans.
- Package the Items: The picker takes the items to a packing station, where another worker packs the items carefully into a box, adds bubble wrap to protect them, seals the box, and attaches a packing slip with the order details.
- Prepare for Shipment: The packaged box is then labeled with the customer’s address and shipping details, and placed in the appropriate area based on the shipping carrier and service level.
- Update Inventory Records: After the order is packed and ready for shipment, the WMS automatically updates the inventory records, reducing the quantities of the smartphone, laptop, and headphones by one each.
This procedure ensures that the customer’s order is processed quickly and accurately, reducing the chances of errors or delays.