The benefits of automating your order fulfillment process down to each-pick level
are many. Automation fills orders faster, eliminates touches, improves accuracy, and
reduces labor costs. Consistency and order quality increase, and highly accurate,
sophisticated tracking becomes feasible.
That said, implementing automation can appear to be more difficult as shipments
move from whole pallets down to individual cases and pieces. Automation for unitpicking
or eachpicking can indeed be a tough nut to crack. For that reason, many
abandon the quest and depend on manual labor — despite the drawbacks in cost,
error, and continual supervision levied by manual means. Yet the available technologies
for automated each-pick solutions have grown tremendously over the years.
Many are adaptations of tried-and-true automated motion and machine systems
proven with whole pallet and carton handling. Others, such as pick-to-light technology,
are extensions of aids to manual systems. All offer lower labor costs, reduced
error rates, more consistent operation and faster order fulfillment compared to
manual methods. As a general rule, the complexity of solutions increase with the
number of SKUs, orders and order lines go up. Some situations may mandate picking
by human labor. But a rigorous systems approach combined with an awareness
of available technologies can help you select the best technology to make your
operation extremely efficient.