Let’s suppose your company has a warehouse or distribution center. The warehouse is the central location for a product in very high demand. Order fulfillment was never a problem until customers realized the benefits of the product. Now, workers struggle to keep up with the orders and mistakes are increasing. Your company could be a prime candidate for a pick module.
Pick modules allow companies the ability to manage fast-paced order fulfillment. Installed correctly, a pick module will streamline picking, reduce errors and improve efficiency. What is a pick module and how does it help?
A pick module—what is it?
Pick modules are not a single piece of equipment. It is more of a concept using multiple pieces of equipment to create a pick module.There are many configuration possibilities available for pick modules. However, the majority of pick modules use the same basic components. These include:
- Pallet racks
- Standard pallet racking
- Pallet flow racks
- Carton flow racks
- Pushback racks
- Mezzanine(s) – usually supported by racking
The versatility of pick modules allows many different configurations to meet requirements for a variety of industries.
Benefits of pick modules
What is the value of installing a pick module? Consider how order fulfillment works in companies not using pick modules compared to those who do use pick modules.
Here is a typical warehouse situation without the benefit of a pick module:
An order comes in. Pickers receive their instructions and immediately trek into the warehouse to fill their order sheets. This frequently requires walking [miles] all over the warehouse and costing precious time to find the items. Time is money, so the longer the picking process takes, the more it costs to fill the order.
Time constraints not only add to expense, they also increase the likelihood of errors.
Most companies require pickers to locate and pick items for an order within specified time limits. For example, a company might determine it should take picker 20 minutes to fill an order sheet. Any additional time over the 20-minute limit will result in extra cost and work against incentives the picker may have to earn more. As a result, the picker could rush to meet the time limit and accidentally pick wrong items. The picker may have saved the company money by not exceeding the time limit, but cost the company because the order is wrong.
Pick modules reduce these issues. Pickers working at a warehouse having a pick module save time, money and are less likely to make errors. Forklifts bring pallet loads of the items to pick directly to the pick module, drastically reducing the distance pickers must travel to find items on their order sheets. The pallet loads are broken down to carton-size quantities on one level and sent to another level where pickers access items, fill the order and send it to shipping where it is loaded for shipment to customers.
The result is a process that is more accurate, confined to a smaller area and faster.
Disadvantages associated with pick modules
In theory, every warehouse could benefit from the installation and use of pick modules. It does streamline operations. Pick modules will reduce picking time and cost. But does that mean a pick module is right for your operation?
There are possible situations where you may want to consider other alternatives.
A pick module may not be the best option if your:
- Order fulfillment volume is very low
- Warehouse size cannot fit inventory and additional equipment for the pick module
- Budgetary restrictions prevent investing in the necessary equipment
Is a pick module a good option for your warehouse? There are many reasons it could improve productivity and reduce cost. However, you need to consider how a pick module will integrate into your operation and what [additional] equipment you need to make it work efficiently as envisioned.