Quick Guide to Order Picking Methods & Productivity
Does your order picking productivity stack up against industry averages?
When you are working on an order picking strategy, knowing the metrics for picking rates may be helpful. Labor productivity is the key to any warehousing or order picking operation, since labor tends to be the largest single cost factor in these operations. It’s critical to understand production rates for processes that absorb labor hours, energy, money, and time.
Labor productivity metrics can vary based on specific operations in a warehouse or shipping facility, including receiving, put-away, replenishment, picking, and shipping (these factors often affect each other, which can further complicate things). The labor rates presented here are based on a cross section of analysis projects performed by Carter & Burgess. They may not apply directly to your operation, but they are a good foundation for understanding how various technologies, processes, and how your operation might perform with a variety of picking methods.
Order Picking Methods and Labor Rates
Type of Picking
|Unloading floor-stacked trailers; sort to pallets||120 cartons|
|Unload floor-stacked pallet onto takeaway conveyor||640 cartons|
|Put away a full pallet into a pallet rack storage position||32 pallets|
|Piece pick from carton flow rack into totes (paper pick tickets in use)||184 lines|
|Piece pick from carton flow rack (pick-to-light)||260 lines|
|Piece pick from horizontal carousels (pod of 3 approx.; light tree used) into totes||300 lines|
|Full case picking using forklift; picking from pallet rack floor level onto pallet||29 cases|
|Full case picking using man-up order picker truck and picking from all pallet rack levels onto pallets||134 cases|
|Full case picking from pallet flow rack onto takeaway powered conveyor (paper pick tickets)||525 cases|
|Full case picking from pallet flow rack onto takeaway powered conveyor (voice recognition)||600 lines|
|Full pallet picking using counterbalance truck from bulk floor storage||50 pallets|
|Full pallet picking using counterbalance truck from pallet rack||65 pallets|
The Most Important Order Picking Metrics: Your Own
By employing your own metrics, and by using timely feedback from employees, you can often make significant improvements without large capital investment. Other factors, such as facility layout, individual employee productivity, and process improvements can also weigh heavily on actual results.
- Improving (and proving) warehouse productivity
- 10 Ways to Improve Order Picking Productivity
- Warehouse Ergonomics: A Quick Guide
Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Marketing Director with three decades of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. He writes on automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations.