For most companies, warehouse efficiency has become a matter of survival versus the profitability goals of a few years ago. Thus, most companies are looking for even more ways to make their day-to-day processes more efficient.
Depending on your SKU’s mix, potentially gained efficiencies in the picking process are as numerous as the stars. Many people do an excellent job squeezing every drop of efficiency out of their picking process by performing a slotting analysis or by investing in an automated picking solution, like pick to voice (PTV) or pick to light (PTL), but then what. If you stop there you miss all the savings that can be achieved by implementing a dynamic packing operation. Regardless of how you picked it, each individual order must still be packaged and marked for transit before shipment.
Quite often, orders that move through pack qualify for a dynamic manifest as opposed to the common static manifest, which includes placing a box onto a table scale, checking the contents, inserting a pack slip, void filling, and taping. All-in-all, this manual process can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes to complete. Even with the quickest workforce in the world, dynamic manifesting, which leverages automation to improve efficiencies, can improve your manifesting operations by 2000 percent.
With moderate changes to the pick process coupled with the use of proven packing technology, an operation can turn order processing from the manual duration mentioned above into a much quicker process in upwards of 20 packages per minute.
Below are the steps needed to create an efficient order packing operation that can yield 8,000+ packed orders per 8-hour shift:
- Preprinted pack slip — Operators pick a preprinted slip instead of waiting on one to print, which often leads to a bottleneck in the pack process.
- Quick void fill — Void fill top off done very quickly in a manufacturing line methodology can greatly improve packing times.
- Automated taper — Conveyor feeds an automated taper that folds the flaps of the box and applies tape.
- Inline scale — The conveyor continues to an inline scale where the package weight can be captured quickly.
- Tamp machine — The package is conveyed down a belt conveyor to an automated tamp machine where the shipping label is automatically printed and applied to the package.
- Verification scan — The shipping label and box are scanned to confirm match or reject.
- Automated confirmation — Another check is done to confirm if the shipping weight matches the system estimated weight within a specified tolerance.
Often, the most common barrier for customers utilizing a dynamic manifest, such as the one above, is getting their pack slips inside the package before it hits a manifest area; however, there are solutions.
Operations will often preprint a pack slip at the beginning of the pick process with the tracking number called and printed there. Your warehouse management system (WMS) can’t do that, so I typically recommend trying automated print, fold, and insert solutions before the automated taper. Another option is to use a complex peel away pack slip that can also be tamped to the outside of the order.
Picking processes typically utilize technologies that allow for a divide and conquer optimized flow, but unfortunately, the pack process often requires a single person to perform several specialized tasks. To increase order packing efficiency, find ways to automate and simplify your packing processes.
Contact your local BMH office, for a free process evaluation.
How have efficient packaging methods helped your company? Have you saved time and money or increased throughput? Leave your comments below.