The Latest DARR News

Ways to Streamline Processes by Using a Warehouse Order Picker

Electric Order Picker

Because today’s consumers have become increasingly accustomed to receiving their goods extremely fast, businesses of all sizes – from mom-and-pop shops to large corporations – need to streamline their order picking practices in order to deliver products in the most efficient manner possible. This is especially true for enterprises that rely on warehouse staff or automated equipment to fulfill orders.

So, what exactly does order picking entail?

Order picking is essentially the labor required to pull an item from inventory to fulfill a customer’s order. While this may seem like an easy procedure, you might be surprised to learn that an average of 55 percent of operational costs in distribution centers are focused on order picking. In other words, warehouses with ineffective systems could halt further innovation, stunting company growth. On the flip side, when you successfully streamline your business’s order picking methodology, you can offer faster fulfillment times to your customers, promote accuracy in your orders, minimize costs, and much more. Keep reading as we delve into how to strategically approach order picking and some of the best warehouse order picker practices for improving productivity in your facility.

Types of Order Picking Strategies

While every organization has its own unique fulfillment requirements, there are some popular frameworks that exist that you can use as a guide when customizing your own order picking strategy, which are outlined below.

Zone Picking

Zone picking is used when a warehouse is compiling orders that contain multiple components and to reduce walk times for pickers. The inventory is arranged into “zones” where each warehouse order picker deals only with the unique SKUs found in their zone.

Discrete Picking

With discrete picking, the order picker doesn’t have their own zone. Instead, they gather each piece of inventory for every order, one item at a time. This strategy is better suited for small warehouses that don’t have to put together complex orders.

Cluster Picking

Efficiency is the main goal of cluster picking, as it involves a single order picker compiling multiple orders at a time, typically dealing with several different SKUs. This method is faster by nature, but it leaves room for more errors if you don’t have the proper resources.

Wave Picking

Wave picking is a strategy designed specifically for warehouses that handle a diverse inventory along with high fulfillment demand. This strategy requires a single picker to prepare each order, but instead of the orders being fulfilled according to what number they are in line, they are assessed so that they can be prioritized by time and importance. This enables companies to ship out goods in waves, hence the strategy’s name.

Batch Picking

Batch picking is essentially where managers assess their inventory to determine the placement of it. The idea is to place more popular items towards the front of the warehouse (for easy accessibility) and the less popular goods towards the back. This works well for e-commerce businesses that have somewhat predictable ordering patterns.

It is important to note that you are not limited to only one of these order picking strategies. In fact, many businesses choose to combine two or more of the above picking types to better suit their needs.

Best Practices for Improving Warehouse Productivity

Because order picking is a crucial function of any warehouse operation, it is important that you use the right picking strategies and tactics. Also, be sure to leverage the right technology and industrial machines to streamline your processes and optimize workflows. Doing these things will not only improve your staff’s productivity but will ultimately contribute to a better bottom line. Some key methods for improving warehouse productivity include:

Designing your warehouse layout for optimal flow

Each functional station of your warehouse should be positioned to flow from one activity to the next. You will want to design the layout based on how inventory flows through each area, from receiving to outbound shipment. This logical flow can prevent staff members from having to double-back across various stations to fulfill an order.

Zoning fast-moving SKUs together

Smart warehouse managers usually leverage the 80/20 rule, which states that 20 percent of products make up 80 percent of customers’ orders. With this knowledge, managers can zone high-volume SKUs to optimize order picking activities, similar to the batch picking method previously discussed. This reduces travel time for a warehouse order picker because they no longer need to travel throughout the entire warehouse to retrieve popular goods.

Ensuring the safety of your order pickers

Pickers and packers must handle goods that have been handled by other associates within your warehouse. Under the current COVID-19-induced circumstances, this can put your employees at risk. To combat this, warehouse managers should consider solutions like redesigning their pick zones and using better technology. This works to both ensure the safety of your staff members while also allowing your business to meet consumer demands in the most efficient manner possible.

Because companies vary so widely in terms of products, facility sizes, and workforce capabilities, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to order picking. While there are some basic best practices that managers should employ in any warehouse, weeding through all the strategic options and combinations isn’t quite as easy. Are you a little lost when it comes to determining the best picking strategy for your facility? Let Darr Equipment help. Our top-notch warehouse solutions help you fully customize your warehouse layout and design, set up and install racking and shelving, and pair the right machines with your layout to maximize productivity. Contact us today to get started.

Continue readingicons/inline-next

How to Fix 3 Common Forklift Repair Issues

Forklifts are the workhorses of the material handling industry – and rightfully so. Their popularity can be attributed to their versatility and durability. While they can be used for many applications and serve a wide array of purposes, a lift truck’s most important job is to efficiently transfer products from one location to another. While modern-day forklifts are sturdy machines, there are still a lot of moving parts involved. With the large loads and heavy usage that these lift trucks are expected to handle, it only makes sense that forklift repair and maintenance is necessary with such a powerful piece of equipment. Read on as we discuss how to repair the three most common issues with forklifts.

Common Forklift Repair Issues

The general rule of thumb regarding forklift troubleshooting is that you should always repair your forklifts as soon as you notice a problem. While it might be easy to put off fixing minor issues in a busy warehouse environment, it is not a wise decision, as delaying repairs can exacerbate the problem, resulting in more expensive repair costs, extra downtime for your machine, and even hazardous conditions for operators. Even if only one part of your lift truck is not functioning properly, it can quickly lead to issues in other areas of your forklift. Outlined below are three common problems and how to address each one.

Steering Problems

Forklifts can be difficult to maneuver at times (especially in tight spaces), making it extremely important to keep the steering functioning smoothly. With that said, it’s not always easy to spot an issue with the steering. One of the warning signs you can look out for is strange sounds that occur when turning the vehicle. These noises can indicate an issue with the hydraulics that regulate the steering pressure or rust in the steering mechanism. Other steering issues include:

· Worn gears

· Loose or worn out pressure valves

· Misaligned tires

· Low steering fluid levels

To remedy the issue of low steering fluid, simply add more. However, if the fluid is thick and gunky, you need to completely change out the fluid. Unlike fluid level problems, worn gears and hydraulics typically require the know-how of an experienced forklift mechanics to fix.

Starting Problems

Forklifts that won’t start can cause unnecessary job delays, slower order fulfillment, and a decrease in employee productivity. Luckily, troubleshooting starting problems is a lot easier than you might think.

Electric Forklift Starting Problems

If you have an electric forklift, the issue is likely related to the battery. Be sure to note when the lift truck’s battery was charged last and if the procedure was performed correctly. If you test the brakes, lights, and other auxiliary functions and they aren’t working, you should either fully recharge the battery or entirely replace the battery with a freshly charged one (if you have one available to use).

Internal Combustion Forklift Starting Problems

Starting issues tend to be a bit more complicated when it comes to internal combustion lift trucks. The following items may be the culprit of a forklift that won’t start:

· Old fuel in the vehicle’s tank

· A fuel leak

· Low oil levels

If none of these factors seem to be the reason that your forklift won’t start, check the coolant level. A radiator blockage or lack of coolant can cause your lift truck to overheat and fail to start. Adding coolant or cleaning the radiator may solve the problem. It is also important to note that if the radiator is heavily corroded, you should replace it.

Mast Problems

The mast on a forklift is the frame that facilitates the lowering, lifting, and tilting of the machine. The carriage and forks are attached to the mast and are powered by a hydraulic piston when lifting a load. Some common mast problems include the following:

· Not lowering or lifting properly

· Jerky lifting and lowering (forklifts should lift and lower smoothly)

· Not lifting quickly enough

The first course of action when you’re experiencing issues with the mast is to check the hydraulic fluid levels. If that looks good, move on to inspecting the forklift chains to see if there are any rusty, worn, or damaged sections that should be replaced.

Keeping any eye out for small forklift repair issues can help to prevent big problems from forming later. With that said, the fast-paced warehouses and job sites where lift trucks are found aren’t always conducive to noticing minute details. Fortunately, if you need assistance keeping up with regular maintenance or repairs, Darr Equipment has your back. Our product support allows you to customize a forklift repair and maintenance program that suits your business needs while maximizing productivity and minimizing downtime. Contact us today to learn more.

Continue readingicons/inline-next

Winter Forklift Maintenance Tips

Kalmar Forklift

Winter is coming – is your lift truck ready? While most warehouse managers understand the importance of regular forklift maintenance, not all of them remember to take extra care of their fleet when the colder months come rolling in. Regardless of whether you choose to let a forklift service company take care of your heavy machinery or prefer to do it in-house, there are some essential pre-season maintenance tasks that you should perform. These tasks are extremely vital, as they can protect your business from unexpected downtime, repair bills, and employee injuries.

Continue readingicons/inline-next