Whilst working for a major internet and mail order
retailer of lingerie products, there was a need to find ways of reducing the
labour cost in the warehouse.
Average order size is very small at around 2.6 units
The physical size of the orders, being lingerie, is
The method of operation was to pick each order individually from a paper-picking list,
necessitating a large amount of walking for each order.
The order was then placed in a holding area prior to packing for despatch,
which was also performed on an individual order basis.
That the proportion of time taken to walk around the
warehouse for the order pickers represented some 90% of their workload.
A “normal” way around this problem is to batch orders together, and then using
automated equipment, sort the batch into individual orders.
The capital cost of such a solution is very high
It is very inflexible
The uncertainty surrounding the likely future volumes made this option unattractive.
What was needed was to find a way of minimising the walk
time, by ensuring that more than one order could be picked each time the picker
went around the warehouse.
A picking trolley was developed which allowed up to 24 orders to be picked on each walk sequence
The principle was extended to the packing operation by using part of the trolley containing
8 orders being delivered to the packing station.
A new layout was devised for the packing stations.
The theoretical picking performance increased by a factor of 12.
The packing performance was increased by 70%
The capital cost of this solution is in direct proportion to the throughput as
additional trolleys are only purchased as the existing ones become fully utilised.
This gives a fully scalable solution, which can easily be transferred to new
warehouses as they are set up.
Return to Consulting Summary