Even the smallest warehouse picking errors add up. Industry research suggests that average picking error rates significantly impact profitability, driving unnecessarily high labor, shipping, and handling costs. From repackaging, restocking, and reshipping fees to the cost of lost customers, warehouse picking errors can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
The good news is that you don’t have to be among the industry average. Decrease your warehouse picking error rates by implementing these streamlined solutions.
How to Reduce Your Picking Error Rates
1) Know what’s in stock – and where it is. Make sure you pay attention to the details; improve your inventory accuracy by keeping an up-to-date log of what you have in stock and where it is in your warehouse. Whether you are doing an annual physical count of every product, using a cycle count process, or making use of RFID or other inventory technology, having an accurate inventory count is critical to reducing picking errors.
2) Streamline your warehouse layout. Think like your buyer. Are items customers frequently purchase located together? Group your orders when possible, to reduce operator fatigue, and improve speed and precision when gathering orders. Minimize travel time by analyzing your workflow and order of operations, and by making structural and layout adjustments when necessary. When your workers know where everything is and have an easy pick path, they will be less rushed and make fewer errors.
3) Think visually. Rather than relying on text tags that can be hard to see and differentiate, use color- or image-coded tags that categorize products based on brand, type, product number, and more. Get creative with your visual categorization to maximize efficiency and minimize worker fatigue; you can code your orders based on priority, your aisles based on order status, or by any other customizable workflow that works best for your specific environment. A colorful and easy-to-see labeling system can reduce tag-related picking errors.
4) Innovate and automate. Invest in a warehouse management system that works for your team. Warehouse automation technology is necessary to stay competitive in today’s industry and will only continue to become a more integral part of your operations. By automating inventory tracking systems to track inventory in real-time, you can easily identify costly labor errors and implement corrections.
Take charge of your operational efficiency with advanced technology in your warehouse by integrating robotics and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) into your operation to handle simple, repetitive tasks. Not only will AGVs save time and money by decreasing costly human errors, but they will also free your staff up to handle more complex tasks. Allowing you to invest more time in tracking and fixing common picking errors in your workspace.
5) Track your error rates. As you invest in the right warehouse management solution for you, think about how your pick-and-pack technology can help you spot errors in your operation. Know when and where you’re making picking errors to identify patterns with common problem areas in your warehouse. Once you target and identify problem areas, you can install streamlined solutions – all it takes is attention to detail and the drive to make improvements wherever necessary.
One initiative that has shown to help warehouse workers stay accountable is the introduction of incentive programs in the workplace; recognize employees who frequently identify and correct picking errors and aid in reducing your warehouse picking error rate.
6) Keep up with quality control. Once you’ve streamlined your warehouse layout, created visual tags, and implemented a warehouse management solution, ask yourself: are you maintaining your organization? These solutions only work if you keep up with quality control and regularly assess the efficiency of the solutions you’ve installed. Make tweaks where you see fit based on processes that work best for you and your employees.
7) Staff up by season. The holidays are coming up, and your warehouse could be facing its busiest season of the year. Make sure you’re adequately staffed with temp workers to keep up with demand during the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas season. Take the time to train seasonal workers on your warehouse layout, inventory tracking systems, and warehouse automation technology to ensure your picking error rate stays down through the busiest time of year.
See A Solution in Action
Want to see what one of these warehouse management solutions looks like? Listen to Joe Valencia, Material Manager for Acorn Engineering, talk about his experiences with Hänel Storage Systems.
David at Engineered Products, a Papé company, said: “For small parts, the Hänel Lean lift is a great tool for improving inventory accuracy, which in turn improves picking accuracy. At Acorn Engineering in City of Industry, they improved accuracy from 80% to 99%.” - David Oliphant | Engineered Products
Invest in Your Efficiency
Reducing your warehouse picking error rate can be as easy as fusing your attention to detail with creative layout solutions and innovative automated technologies. Still interested in learning more about streamlining your warehouse productivity? Check out our warehouse solutions, or visit a Papé Material Handling location near you. Invest in the efficiency of your operation today.