Feel like you’re losing control of your person-to-goods (PTG) warehouse? Growing so fast that your pickers can’t keep up? It might be time to consider goods-to-person (GTP) order fulfillment.
Even though there are many variations of GTP solutions, the benefits are universal — and so are the reasons to choose them. Let’s count the ways:
1. Eliminate picker travel time, use less labor
In PTG, most of the pickers’ time and energy is spent traveling from item to item — literally getting the person to the goods. However, GTP order pickers don’t need to roam the warehouse — the product comes right to them. By minimizing this non-value-add time component, productivity surges. You can free up labor to work in other warehouse roles, or keep the pickers you have in place to efficiently grow your output.
2. Stop slotting and reslotting
PTG warehouses routinely spend time slotting and re-slotting SKUs within a dedicated pick face, in response to size or velocity changes. GTP takes away that pick face, as well as the need to slot and reslot —the software that drives the automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) takes care of any necessary adjustments as it retrieves and delivers SKUs to workstations for picking.
3. Reduce system footprint
ASRS and GTP workstations take up far less space than PTG operations. The high-density storage capabilities of an ASRS typically help achieve a 50% footprint reduction from PTG arrangements.
GTP solutions typically offer a 50% footprint reduction from PTG
4. Increase inventory security
When you place your inventory into an ASRS, it’s immediately secured and only available to appropriate warehouse staff at the workstations. This reduces opportunities for theft, maintains inventory accuracy, and even helps implement your first-in/first-out or first-in/first-expired strategies.
5. Enhance employee wellbeing
GTP order-picking workstations enhance employee wellbeing through ergonomic design, such as working heights, range of motion, lighting, and temperature. These design considerations reduce strain and conserve energy — no more lifting heavy totes or cartons. In addition, universal-access design features help further fit the job to the worker and opens new avenues of opportunity for employees with special needs.
6. Speed up order selection rates
In addition to ergonomics, the GTP workstation design enables high worker productivity. Most operations obtain order-selection rates between 300 to 800 order lines per hour per operator. For applications where low-velocity inventory is placed in GTP, fast-moving inventory can be isolated into a fast-pick subsystem. Without the constraint of picking slow movers, the fast-movers subsystem reaches even greater heights of efficiency.
Most GTP operations achieve order-selection rates of 300-800 order lines per hour, per operator
7. Improve order-picking accuracy
Order picking from a GTP workstation is more accurate than PTG operations, for many reasons. First, operators are typically only handling one SKU at a time, reducing the potential for the picker to grab the wrong items. Second, most GTP workstations use intuitive put-to-light cues to visually indicate quantity and location, removing any chance of verbal or written miscommunication. Finally, each picking process is performed by one person at one workstation, thereby enabling quality-control traceability.
8. Encourage employee independence
A single ASRS can serve multiple GTP workstations, enabling your staff to work in parallel, unaffected by each other. These workstations can open and close according to business volume or available staff. There is redundancy in this configuration since items can be processed at any location as the workstations are completely decoupled.
9. Gain high utilization from your workstations
There is no wait to work in a GTP workstation. Travel time is omitted completely for the worker, and the travel time for the goods is significantly reduced — goods flow into the pick station smoothly and consistently. Worker productivity is not affected by the challenges found in PTG pick modules, whether it’s high activity in one zone, little activity in another zone, or pacing issues in a pick-and-pass environment.
10. Streamline sequencing to meet delivery requirements
When building a customer order, SKUs are selected from the ASRS and conveyed to each workstation in a precise sequence — a sequence that can be defined to help you comply with delivery requirements that may carry a heavy penalty if not met. For example, items can be presented to the order selector by weight: heavy to light. In another example, orders can be built in sequence by family group or by truck-delivery route.
11. Forget about order profiles
Order profiles have zero effect in a GTP system. Single-item orders, multi-item orders, and any combination in between are accommodated with equal efficiency. If your order profile trends in one direction today or changes completely to another tomorrow, your productivity remains the same.
12. Accommodate SKU growth
Even when it feels like you’re adding new SKUs every day, your ASRS can probably absorb the new load. And as the system approaches full capacity, its modular design enables expansion and extension to grow with you.
If any of these reasons resolve a challenge you’re facing in your warehouse or distribution center, it’s probably time to integrate GTP strategies into your operations. But you don’t have go all in, and you don’t have to do it alone.