Above: in this automated e-commerce distribution center, picks are packed into cartons from totes on the conveyor line. Because conveyors deliver the totes directly to workers, and the work is executed at ergonomic heights, the process is fast and efficient.
Order fulfillment is only as fast as its slowest function, and packing–often the last stop before shipping–can be a bottleneck. We’ve analyzed many operations that underestimated the needs of the packing department from the start, while others realized over time that new requirements, new SKUs and order volumes that were fine at go-live eventually bogged the packing function. It’s not unusual for picking processes to react faster and better to these conditions than the packing area.