The Technology That Makes Warehouse Inventory Management a Breeze
Inventory management has come a long way since the days of clipboards, pen, and paper. Whether it’s satisfying an e-commerce order or conducting inventory management, it’s beneficial to have efficient order picking technology to ensure the success of any warehouse or distribution center.
For many warehouses or distribution centers, order picking technology is their first step in digitally optimizing the ordering picking process. With so many advances in order picking technology available, this can factor into how to optimize a warehouse or distribution center difficult digitally. Fortunately, those opting into order picking technology no longer must figure it out alone.
This guide explains different kinds of order picking technology and how technology can enhance the order picking process. Readers identify not only different order picking devices but also be able to integrate these devices into their warehouse or distribution center operations. The result will be coordination between workers and automated systems to drive rapid, high-volume warehouse execution.
What is Order Picking Technology?
Order picking involves the pulling of an item from the warehouse or distribution center inventory to fulfill an order. It's a simple process that amounts to an average of 55% of operational costs within any given distribution center. With that operation figure in mind, it's easy to see how choosing order picking technology can not only streamline the process but be cost effective as well.
While cost-effective order picking technology can be beneficial, choosing order picking technology is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution.
Types of Picking Technology
Order picking technology has come a long way from standard Pick-to-Light systems and RF scanners. There is augmented reality, voice picking, and drones to add to the classic Pick-to-Light, Put-To-Light, and RF scanner systems.
Augmented reality, known as AR, is picking that uses wearable technology and a vision and voice-guided picking tool. AR is useful to produce faster solutions for warehouses and distribution centers.
Augmented reality picking comes with additional tools such as smart glasses to combine the virtual images and information with an operator's environment. To use AR in a warehouse, an operator puts on the glasses, follows the instructions provided, and scans all of the product barcodes within the glasses' display. An added benefit to combining the real-world and virtual information is added speed and accuracy over other order picking technologies.
Modern warehouse and distribution robots are developed to complement traditional picking processes as opposed to eliminating them. Order picking robots are designed to operate on the floor with human pickers at work and will collaborate with human pickers. The software that controls the system will direct the robot of a pick location until all of the items for an order are ready for delivery.
Voice picking is a useful tool for picking operations and easy for warehouse staff to learn. Voice picking keeps an operator's hand and eyes free, which allows them to focus more on their current task. To use a voice picking device, an operator equips itself with a mobile device or voice dedicated terminal and a headset with a microphone. A barcode scanner (wired or wireless) can be added to increase accuracy and productivity.
Easy-to-understand voice prompts direct operators to locations and instructs them to perform specific tasks. Multi-modal feedback via an operator's voice, a barcode scan or direct text entry provides additional operational flexibility.
Pick more orders, in less time, with fewer errors by leveraging the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technology. A simple URL causes the associated Cloud Display Device to light up with two lines of custom text – in almost any language. Integration with your WMS/ERP is simple. In fact, the system even works with Excel or Google Sheets!
Cloud Display Devices can be used in all sorts of ways: pick-to-light, put-to-light, picking carts, order sortation, quarantine, kitting, will-call, and more!
Put to Light
When a warehouse picker "picks" a product, they must also know where to put it. In a put-to-light scenario, wireless IoT devices are mounted to cart, tote, or bin. When a picker scans a barcode on a picklist the device lights up, indicating where the picked item should be placed. Put-to-light systems boost productivity by helping you batch pick more orders in a single pass through the warehouse.
RF Handheld Scanners
An RF scanner is a form of Radio Frequency Scanner which transfers information along with a radio frequency wireless network. An RF scanner often comes in the form of a wireless hand-held device, making it a capable portable device for warehouse management.
RF scanners are used to pick products. When it comes to logistics, the act of order picking, nicknamed pulling, is the process of obtaining products to fulfill customer orders. The act of order picking is an extensive process in its own right, but the consensus is that order picking is essential in affecting customer satisfaction levels.
An RF Scanner ensures that an Order Picker picks up the proper item and updates the management system via a scannable barcode. This process avoids ordering picking duplication and allows for smooth and efficient warehouse production. RF Scanners come in a variety of sizes. There are RF scanners that can be as simple as a pen scanner, a laser scanner, or a mobile scanner.
Retail and consumer good giants lead the way in the testing and emergence of drones in warehouses. Amazon launched its drone program, Prime Air, in recent years to focus on last-mile delivery to speed up its already quick delivery. The goal of Prime Air is to ensure that Amazon Prime members receive packages in 30 minutes or less using drones
by using Prime Air. With Amazon paving the way, other warehouses and
distribution centers have also started using drone systems.
In recent years, more and more warehouses and distribution centers have been utilizing drones and robots to patrol distribution warehouses, maintain inventory, and complete order picking tasks. While warehouse and distribution facilities are continuing to search for more optimal ways to incorporate drones into their operations, drones use, and application is still new territory.
Despite working alongside human, drones are more efficient than their human counterparts. Three drones can do the work of 100 humans within the same period. Drones are also more accurate than humans when it comes to comparing results, identify discrepancies, and develop actual pictures of inventory faster.
Order Picking Technology with Voodoo Robotics
There is a wide variety of ordering picking technology that warehouses, and distribution centers can utilize. Combine any of these technologies with the Voodoo Robotics' Pick to Light products for a more efficiently run system.
Combine two robust technological inventory management solutions and see what your KPIs can tell you as early as your next cycle count.