We’ve talked about bulk storage, now let’s talk small items storage and piece picking. Also called single-piece picking, piece picking is where cases are split open and individual items are picked from bins or open cartons. Some Distribution Centre’s (DC’s) have to account for lots of small items, all single picked, therefore the whole warehouse is a single-piece picking zone. Other DC’s only have a few products they class as small items. Not only does that mean they can allocate a zone specifically for that inventory, but it also means they would benefit from doing so. Lets see why.
Piece picking is completed pretty much the same way most of us complete grocery shopping. There is a list of items and a cart. Items on that list are picked off the shelf and then placed in the cart. However piece picking in a warehouse is naturally more complex and labour intensive, than the average weekly shop by a consumer. Pickers are required to pick more than one order and often more than one at the same time. Travel time and time efficiency can be major issues, which is why grouping small, single-piece items into one zone is a beneficial move.
The best area in your warehouse to allocate as a single-piece picking zone is a mezzanine level. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, it keeps the stock isolated from general inventory, it also keeps the items elevated above most of the warehouse dust—this is important because single piece items are more exposed than items in cartons. Also, assigning a mezzanine floor as the single-piece pick zone means you keep the items confined to a small area, thereby reducing travel times and congestion. Most importantly, installing a mezzanine level to use as a single-piece pick zone makes excellent use of your vertical warehouse space.
When could this type of system be utilised? Lets examine a manchester bedding and home wares company as an example. They sell items from pillows, to bedspreads, as well as candles and picture frames. Most of the manchester falls under bulk storage and because they sell so much of it they opt to store it on the main floor. While they do sell cartons of small items, they also break down some cartons for single picking. There are other items too, for example doilies or placemats, which have a lower unit volume and only need a single-piece pick facing. The mezzanine floor is perfect for their picking needs. To maximise on efficiency, they also allocate a single picker to the mezzanine level, who spends their day picking the small items and packing them into boxes for each order.
When you don’t have as many small items as you do bulk, allocating a mezzanine floor for your piece picking makes sense. It also makes picking easier and more efficient. To decide if you need to install a mezzanine as a piece-picking zone, contact Dynamic Warehouse Solutions today.