Order Picking

A portion of our General Labour and Forklift Operator positions we have available at Breakaway involve order picking.

But what is order picking? If you accept one of our order picking positions what will you be doing? And why do companies need order pickers? We answer all of your order picking questions in today’s blog post.

What is Order Picking?

Order picking is the act of withdrawing items from inventory to fulfill an order.

3 Types of Order Picking: box-2071537_1280

  1. Piece Picking
  2. Case Picking
  3. Pallet Picking

1. Piece Picking

Piece picking occurs when order pickers pick individual items stored on shelving.

Piece Picking Methods

Basic Order Picking – The order picker picks one order at a time following a designated route through the shelving until the entire order is picked. This method works well for companies that have a small number of orders or a high number of items per order.

Batch Picking – The order picker picks multiple orders at once. The orders are grouped into small batches and the order picker picks all orders as they move through the shelving. Orders are sorted using a multi-tiered cart or different totes for each order. This method works well for companies that have a high number of orders which include a small number of items.

Zone Picking – Each order picker is assigned an area of the storage facility where they are responsible for picking orders in that zone. A conveyor system moves picked items from zone to zone as the picking is completed. This method is ideal for large operations with high order numbers and a low to moderate number of items per order.

Wave Picking – This method is similar to zone picking except all items are picked at the same time. Once all items have been picked they are consolidated and separated into individual orders. This method is fastest of all of the piece picking methods and works best for companies with a large number of items per order but the separation process can be difficult.

2. Case Picking

Case picking occurs when order pickers pick full cartons or boxes of products.

Case Picking Methods

Basic Case Picking – This is the most common method for case picking; it involves order pickers picking cases of product that are stored on pallet racks or in bulk. Pickers will use hand pallet jacks (Walkies) or motorized forklifts to pick orders.

Batch Picking – This method is rarely used when case picking. Pickers would not have room to pick multiple orders due to the size of the cases being picked.

Zone Picking – This method is not used very often in case picking but can be effective if the company needs to pick a large amount of different items per order or has enough cases to fill a pallet for one order.

Wave Picking – This method is effective in case picking where there is a large amount of picks per order and the company is looking to reduce pick time.

3. Pallet Picking

Pallet picking occurs when order pickers pick full skids/pallets for one order.

Pallet Picking Methods

Basic Case Picking – This is the most common method for pallet picking. Pickers will use forklifts to pick full pallets and stage them in the designated loading area or load them directly onto a truck.

Batch Picking – This method is not used for pallet picking as the picker will be picking full pallets specific to one order.

Zone Picking – This method is applied to pallet picking when order pickers are assigned a specific area of the facility to pick from to avoid multiple forklifts picking in the same location.

Task Interleaving – This is a method of combining order picking and putting away. The order picker is instructed where to putaway a pallet on their way to their next pick.

Types of Equipment Used in Order Picking

  • Shelving (static & rotating)
  • Pallet racks
  • Barcode scanners
  • Voice-directed picking
  • Conveyors & sortation systems
  • Lift trucks
  • Automatic Storage & retrieval systems
  • Automatic picking machines