From transport logistics to warehouse logistics to complete supply chain management: logistics companies – especially lead logistics providers – cover services along the entire value chain. To ensure that goods ordered daily also reach the customer, order picking is an important interface between warehouse logistics and distribution. Innovative picking systems ensure smooth processes here – and thus economically decisive increases in efficiency. A perfect example of this is the paperless order picking system that Huettemann uses for its customers at the Isernhagen site.
Definition: What is order picking?
Picking is the compilation of certain articles from a total assortment according to a given order. A so-called pick list forms the basis for the respective quantities of the articles to be packed. Alternatively, this can also be transmitted to the pickers in electronic form – for example, through paperless technologies such as the pick-by-light method.
Pick-by-Light: Automated paperless order picking
Pick-by-Light (PbL) is a paperless picking system that is not tied to a specific person. Instead of a pick list, the quantity of the respective item to be picked lights up for the pickers on a display directly at the picking compartment. Pick-by-Light is often controlled by and linked to the system of a higher-level picking facility – the warehouse management system.
Order picking system instead of forklift: more efficiency through automation
Depending on the type of items in a warehouse, different conveyor techniques can be used for order picking. Very large items usually have to be transported from the warehouse to the picking location using industrial trucks. And this so-called person-to-goods picking can also be used for smaller items. However, it is more efficient with smaller items if the goods are automatically transported from the warehouse directly to the order picker. This way, the picker can take the quantity of goods specified by the warehouse management system and assemble them directly. This method of picking is called goods-to-person picking. An important basis for this is an order picking system like the one Huettemann uses at its warehouse location in Isernhagen.
Paperless order picking system at the Isernhagen warehouse location
Due to the Huettemann customers served in Isernhagen, the warehouse location is optimised for small order picking. Individual warehouse concepts for each customer form the basis for efficient warehouse logistics. Special solutions for order picking are based on the customers’ requirements. For example, a leading stationery manufacturer has numerous orders for picking its pens every day. About ten to 15 products per order picking end up in a carton for Huettemann’s major customer – sometimes all different. A task that is almost impossible to solve manually or with classic picking processes, but above all absolutely inefficient. For this reason, Huettemann has been operating a paperless order picking system in the warehouse in Isernhagen since 2020, which is used for precisely such customers. Huettemann realised both the installation of the system on site and the entire integration of the IT by its own software experts.
Advantages of a paperless order picking system for numerous customers
The system in Isernhagen is a significant factor in increasing efficiency, and not only for the stationery manufacturer’s picking processes. Huettemann already picks numerous consignments for several companies with the system and can expand it individually if required. In this way, customers for whom small order picking makes sense can be easily integrated – according to their requirements and needs – and benefit from the advantages of the order picking system:
- High order-picking performance by saving travel time
- High, small article portfolio possible
- Efficient packing, due to low error rate
- 50% faster processes compared to classic order picking through Pick-by-Light
- Less container (wear), e.g. due to pick-and-pack system*
- High degree of automation for smoother processes
- Precise overview of picking, thanks to real-time monitoring
- Less labour costs that can be passed on to customers
- Predestined for e-commerce / online shop orders thanks to direct integration into the warehouse management system
*Pick-and-pack system: goods packed directly into the correct cartons, which are pre-calculated via the system volume. In this way, the carton placed on the conveyor system is also the one that arrives at the customer in the end.
Order picking from Huettemann: Individual solutions
Huettemann put its first order picking system into operation 20 years ago and has since gained a lot of experience in this special area of warehouse logistics. As a lead logistics provider, the company now covers all processes along the supply chain from a single source. This means that projects such as the construction of a warehouse location including a paperless order picking system can be realised for individual customers without any problems. But it doesn’t always have to be a completely new installation: picking systems are usually multi-client capable and individually expandable. In the course of supply chain management, Huettemann therefore also optimises processes of different customers with already existing picking systems.