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3 Key Factors in Goods to Person Throughput Design

Brent Davis | 26 January 2022

As an independent integrator, Bastian Solutions works with a variety of technologies and brands. As such, it’s not uncommon to be asked by clients, “How many lines per hour can I pick with a goods to person system?”

When it comes to GTP (goods to person systems), this might include systems from AutoStore, Perfect Pick, ASRS, Scallog, Attabotics, Caja Robotics, Kardex, Servus or Adapto. All these technologies offer easily scalable, modern methods of order fulfillment. However, they do so with varying technological and design configurations. So, when it comes to answering “how many lines per hour can I pick” there are many factors that come into play but there are three key elements that help provide a clearer picture and provide an estimated lines per hour rate. Let’s explore this.

How Many Lines Per Hour Can You Pick?

1. Picking Port Activities

Fulfillment activities, no matter how quick, around the automated ports are important to consider.

  • What are you doing at the port in addition to picking your product?
  • Are you required to erect the shipping carton or walk to retrieve a shipping carton?
  • Do you need to scan the product?
  • Is there counting required, for example are you picking 80 washers, and it takes time to count those out? Is there repackaging required?
  • Is there rearranging of products in the shipping carton?
  • Is void fill required? 

All of these activities add up to what we call handling time.

2. Tote Exchange Time

The amount of time required for system to generate the next tote in the fulfillment sequence is called the exchange time. These are the next totes that the goods to person system will deliver for the picker to select product from.

 In general, the moving of totes into place can take anywhere from three to six seconds.

3. Manual Picking Efficiencies

The efficiency of manual picking operations, by the human picker, also needs to be considered. While the goods to person system performs the activity of locating and transporting product to the picking ports, a human picker is often used to do the final picking activity.  Some of your pickers will just be more efficient than others so this will play into the picking time estimate.

Calculating Goods to Person Pick Time

All the above factors are considered when calculating an estimated pick time. Many of our automated systems pick anywhere from 200 to 500 lines per hour, per picking port.

If we look at 200 lines per hour, for example, there are 3,600 seconds in an hour divided by 200 lines per hour equal 18 seconds per line pick time. 

3,600 seconds / 200 lines = 18 seconds per line pick time

However, it’s key that we also factor in all of your processes in order to calculate how many seconds per line it takes to pick an order line. As I noted previously, that would include picking port activities, tote exchange time and manual picking tasks. These additional factors can help us confirm if a particular goods to person system is a good fit for your throughput goals and operation as a whole.  

Confirming a Solution for Your DC Automation Project

For a more refined estimate and review, we’d also look at your total throughput requirements for your distribution center in order to design the appropriate good to person system to meet your specific ROI.

Our process is designed to identify opportunities to optimize your operations. Whether you’re improving or adding to an existing process, or envisioning a new system for a new location, we review your operations to find its strengths and weaknesses, allowing us to plan and design the perfect solution together.

Bastian Solutions consultants leverage unique design concepts aimed at reducing distribution costs, better utilizing space, lowering excess inventory, increasing order accuracy and more. For this all-too-common question, we have developed many tools to help calculate the throughput for your specific fulfillment process, and we’d be happy to help you with yours!

Author: Brent Davis

Brent Davis is a Solutions Account Executive based out of the Bastian Solutions Louisville, Kentucky office. He has an MBA from Wright State University and BSEE from Iowa State University. Davis works with clients on the requirement analysis, design, budgeting, proposal, and implementation of larger integrated material handling systems. He guides projects throughout every phase of a project, from solutions development to support after installation. 

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