The complete guide to Warehouse Order Pickers

Logistics

To deliver your product to customers on time you need an efficient process for picking orders, and equipment that will make order picking fast and effortless for your team.

What is a warehouse order picker?

A warehouse order picker is a piece of equipment used to pick and deliver goods needed for an order from storage. If your business suplies orders, you should strive to implement a warehouse order picking strategy that promotes speed, accuracy and safety. By streamlining order picking in your warehouse you can:

  • Improve order delivery times for your customers
  • Reduce complaints regarding faulty or damaged goods
  • Improve ergonomics for your warehouse staff
  • Save money by picking more orders in less time

Unlike traditional warehouse order pickers, TAWI’s order picker relieves warehouse workers of manual lifting. The vacuum lifter makes lifting quick and efficient, saving valuable strength and time, and improving health and safety. With the order picker, one warehouse worker can pick orders for a full shift without any strain on arms, shoulders or back.

Why use a vacuum order picker?

Vacuum lifters enable effortless lifting when picking orders. The unique benefit of TAWI’s order picker is that it is a free-standing unit, easily attachable to any forklift or pallet jack. This means, you won’t be dependent on one specific forklift unit. Instead, the TAWI Mobile Order Picker can be picked up by any forklift, used for picking one or more orders, and then taken over by another forklift or pallet jack.

TAWI’s order picker is a mobile vacuum lift system that enables effortless and ergonomic handling of all types of goods. The operator can easily pick all goods of different sizes and shapes with minimal physical effort or strain.

Not only is physical effort reduced, but the order picker will often enable one person to do what is normally a 2-person job. The order picker vacuum unit enables anyone to lift large and heavy goods that they would not be able to lift manually.

Person lifting 25kg sack using a vacuum lifter.

What is the maximum safe weight for the vacuum lifter to pick?

Vacuum lifters come in different sizes, and are therefore able to lift different weights. The wider the lift tube diameter, the heavier goods you can lift. TAWI’s order picker is compatible with vacuum units handling up to 80kgs, however, the maximum lifting capacity also varies depending on the goods you need to lift. for example, a more permeable load can reduce lifting capacity.

Order picking challenges

One of the main objectives for successful order picking is to implement a process that will increase both productivity and accuracy. As Dave Piasecki notes in this article on order picking these two objectives can often conflict with each other, as a method that focuses on accuracy may for example compromise productivity. TAWI’s order picker solution resolves this conflict by enabling high speed order picking without sacrificing accuracy. The vacuum powered order pickers enable operators to pick orders at high speed and still allow them to handle goods with care and attention.

Order picking methods

Finding the best order picking method for your business is essential for success. Which method is best suited for your business is dependent on several factors. These include the type of operation, type of products, volume of orders handled, number of picks on a given order and number of picks from a given SKU. Below are some of the most popular order picking methods.

  • Discrete Order Picking. One order picker picks one order, one line at a time. This method is simple, provides fast response time for order fulfillment and allows easy tracking of order picker accuracy.
  • Zone picking. Every order picker is assigned one physically defined zone in the warehouse. The picker assigned to each zone is responsible for picking all SKUs located in this zone for each order.
  • Batch picking. One order picker picks a batch of orders at the same time, one SKU at a time. This method is superior when there are multiple orders with the same SKU, if orders normally have only a few SKUs.

 

How to be a faster warehouse order picker

Using proper order picking equipment will help streamline the order picking process to some extent. But to fully ensure fast order picking, the warehouse layout and operational processes also need to be considered. Here are some examples of warehouse improvement ideas.

  • Ensure product availability. Check and replenish inventory as needed. There are software solutions available to help you keep track of the status of your inventory.
  • Prioritize product placement. Put the most frequently ordered items near the entrance of the picking area. Sort according to popularity, placing the least frequently ordered products at the back.
  • Review warehouse layout. The way products are arranged in the warehouse greatly affects the speed and efficiency of the picking process. Grouping similar items together is often beneficial. The warehouse layout can also influence routing practices. Do you have items that are often ordered together? Make sure they are stored in close proximity to each other.

What is the maximum safe weight for the order picker to lift?

Deduct the order picker weight (640kgs) from your forklift’s capacity and you know how much you can safely load on your pallet. Forklift capacities often start at 1360kgs, meaning you can safely load at least 720kgs on your pallet with the order picker. You will find the rated capacity for your forklift on its data plate.

In addition to the weight of the order picker unit, you should also consider the distribution on the pallet. If your load is oddly shaped or heavier on one end, the load centre shifts towards the heavy end. This altered load centre must be considered to ensure safe lifting. If in doubt, contact us here at TAWI for advice on loading capacity for your order picker.

Order picking with your mobile vacuum lifter attached to a forklift

Read more about: TAWI Mobile Order Picker | order picking

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