In today’s fast-paced and competitive business environment, optimizing warehouse operations is crucial to ensure efficiency, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness. A revolutionary solution gaining traction in the logistics industry is “goods-to-person picking.” In this informative piece, we will delve into the concept of goods-to-person picking systems, their significance in modern warehouses, key components, benefits, and provide a step-by-step guide on implementing this cutting-edge system.
Introduction to Goods-to-Person Picking
Understanding the Concept of Goods-to-Person Picking
Goods-to-person picking, often abbreviated as G2P or G2P picking, represents a paradigm shift in warehouse order fulfillment. Traditional order picking systems require warehouse employees to traverse aisles, manually collecting items, and assembling customer orders. However, goods-to-person picking flips this process. Instead of employees traveling to retrieve products, the system automatically delivers the items to the worker, enhancing efficiency and reducing human error.
Importance of Goods-to-Person Picking in Modern Warehouses
In the era of e-commerce warehousing and ever-evolving customer expectations, modern warehouses encounter the challenge of accurately and swiftly processing a high volume of orders. Goods-to-person automation directly addresses this challenge by streamlining the order fulfillment process. By eliminating the need for employees to navigate warehouse aisles, this system offers several critical advantages.
Choosing the Right Type of Goods-to-Person Picking System For Your Operation
The core of goods-to-person picking lies in warehouse automation. Investing in automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and warehouse management systems (WMS) compatible with G2P technology provides efficient distribution. These systems collaborate to ensure the smooth movement of products to and from the picking stations.
Conveyor Systems with Goods-to-Person Picking
In the context of goods-to-person picking, conveyor systems play a crucial role in optimizing warehouse operations. There are three primary types to consider: accumulation Conveyors, transportation conveyors, and sortation conveyors, each serving a specific purpose:
Accumulation Conveyor Systems are essential for goods-to-person picking as they efficiently manage the flow of products within the warehouse. These conveyors allow items to accumulate temporarily, preventing congestion and ensuring a smooth transition along the conveyor line. They are particularly valuable when buffering products between various stages of processing or packing, facilitating a seamless goods-to-person picking process.
Transportation Conveyor Systems form the backbone of material movement in goods-to-person Picking operations. They excel at the continuous and reliable transfer of goods from one location to another, a fundamental requirement when preparing items for efficient picking. Whether transferring products from receiving to storage or between different production areas, transportation conveyors provide a dependable solution for streamlining the movement of goods to the picking stations.
Sortation Conveyor Systems play a pivotal role in automating the goods-to-person picking process by routing products to their respective destinations. Equipped with diverters, sensors, and barcode scanners, these conveyors identify and sort items based on predetermined criteria. In goods-to-person picking scenarios, sortation conveyors ensure that each item reaches the correct picking station efficiently, whether it’s for further processing, packing, or direct shipment.
Vertical Lift Modules with Goods-to-Person Picking
Vertical Lift Modules (VLMs) are exceptionally well-suited for goods-to-person picking operations, especially in warehouses with limited space. These automated systems consist of vertical columns with trays or shelves, providing efficient storage for a wide range of items. VLMs excel in space optimization and retrieval speed, making them an ideal choice for goods-to-person picking systems. They are particularly effective for storing small to medium-sized items with varying demand levels, ensuring quick and accurate retrieval for efficient picking processes.
Pallet Runner and AS/RS with Goods-to-Person Picking
Goods-to-person automation, like pallet runner systems and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), can offer specialized solutions for many different industries:
Pallet Runner Systems are designed for high-density storage of palletized goods, making them a valuable choice for warehouses with a significant volume of pallets that need to be accessed quickly. In goods-to-person picking scenarios, pallet runner systems ensure that pallets are readily available at the picking stations, streamlining the picking process for large quantities of goods.
AS/RS (Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems) are incredibly versatile and efficient for goods-to-person picking. They are particularly beneficial for operations that involve storing and retrieving items of varying sizes and weights. AS/RS systems employ automated cranes to navigate storage racks, providing quick access to the required items. This versatility makes them suitable for high-throughput goods-to-person picking operations, especially when dealing with multiple SKUs.
Robotics with Goods-to-Person Picking
In the context of goods-to-person picking, robotics has emerged as a transformative force in warehouse operations. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and robots equipped with pick-and-place technology are especially valuable. These robotic systems excel in tasks requiring high precision, speed, and adaptability, making them ideal for goods-to-person picking processes. They are particularly beneficial in e-commerce fulfillment centers where order volumes fluctuate rapidly, ensuring efficient and accurate picking to meet customer demands.
H2: Implementing Goods-to-Person Picking: A Streamlined Approach
Efficiently implementing goods-to-person picking systems involves careful planning and execution. This step-by-step guide simplifies the process for operations managers seeking to integrate this technology seamlessly into their warehouse operations:
- 1. Assessing Current Warehouse Operations
- Before initiating goods-to-person picking implementation, conduct a thorough assessment of existing warehouse operations.
- Identify bottlenecks, areas of inefficiency, and opportunities for improvement.
- Use this assessment as the foundation for your implementation plan.
- 2. Maintaining and Upgrading Systems
- Once the goods-to-person picking system is operational, prioritize ongoing maintenance and system upgrades.
- Automated systems, including robotics and conveyors, require regular care for optimal performance.
- Establish a maintenance schedule to address issues promptly and ensure continued efficiency.
- 3. Frequent Maintenance Requirements
- Goods-to-person picking systems, especially robotics and conveyors, demand regular maintenance to prevent downtime.
- Implement a preventive maintenance schedule that includes inspections, repairs, and component replacements as needed.
- This proactive approach minimizes disruptions and sustains smooth warehouse operations.
H2: Key Benefits of Goods-to-Person Picking
Implementing goods-to-person picking can significantly enhance your warehouse operations. Here are some of the key benefits associated with this innovative system:
Proven Boost in Productivity Levels
Goods-to-person picking eliminates the need for manual travel through warehouse aisles, substantially reducing picking times. Swift access to products empowers your warehouse to process orders rapidly, ultimately bolstering productivity. This is proven to include a 6% to 11% reduction in the travel distance with 2-class or 3-class system, depending on the parameter settings. 
Accuracy in Order Fulfillment
Human errors in order picking can be costly and lead to customer dissatisfaction. G2P minimizes such errors by automating the picking process, ensuring precise delivery of the correct products to customers every time.
Significant Savings in Labor Costs
By reducing the reliance on extensive manual labor, goods-to-person picking can yield substantial savings in labor costs. Fewer employees are required for picking and packing, allowing for more efficient resource allocation.
Enhanced Safety Measures
Safety takes precedence in warehouse operations. G2P systems foster a safer work environment by minimizing the need for employees to navigate potentially hazardous warehouse areas, leading to fewer accidents and a more secure workplace.
Future of Goods-to-Person Picking
It’s important to stay updated with the latest developments in the field of warehousing and logistics technology to get a more accurate picture of the future of G2P picking systems and better understand their implications on warehousing and distribution.
Here is some information on what we’re seeing for the future of goods-to-person picking:
Advanced Robotics: With robotics, a “worker’s reach, mobility and lifting” is altered. One robotics option utilizes multi-level racking and shelving systems integrated with robots such that workers don’t need to enter the racking or shelving system. Instead, robots controlled by complex software on each level pull the necessary product and place the product on an elevator or gravity flow chute that’s integrated with a conveyor. The conveyor delivers the goods to the necessary picking/packing station and the worker completes their tasks from that station. In addition to conveyors, gravity flow systems have been paired with the new robotic goods to man picking systems, which “approach blends the advantages of first-in-first-out, pick facing, stationary employees, and carton flow.”(1)
A second type of robotics goods to man system is that which does not utilize conveyors, but rather robots that bring storage units directly to the picker. This is seen in such facilities as Amazon, which implemented the Kiva system.
Machine Learning and AI: Improved machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence can enhance the intelligence of G2P systems. These systems can better predict demand, optimize routes, and adapt to changing circumstances in real-time.
Micro-Fulfillment Centers: As e-commerce continues to grow, there may be an increased demand for smaller, localized micro-fulfillment centers. G2P systems can be a key component of such facilities, enabling faster and more cost-effective order fulfillment.
Sustainability and Energy Efficiency: There could be a greater emphasis on designing G2P systems that are environmentally friendly and energy-efficient. This includes the use of renewable energy sources and the reduction of waste.
About REB Storage Systems International
REB Storage Systems International was incorporated in 1962. REB specializes in the design, engineering, sales, and installation of storage systems and material handling products for warehouses, distribution centers, manufacturing facilities, records storage environments and other companies with storage needs.
To find out more about how REB can help you on your next project, visit our About REB page.