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order picking

Discrete Order Picking vs. Batch Picking: Which is Faster for 3PLs? 

3PLs need to establish themselves as problem-solving providers that help clients save time and money. As a result, you need to assess their needs to understand where you can provide the most value. Finding the best order-picking method to see immediate efficiencies proves your worth. Here we look at discrete order picking versus multi-line/batch orders to help you decide which system will establish better cost and time savings. 

Why is Order Type So Important? 

E-commerce processes need to be fast without sacrificing efficiency. Speed is essential, but it doesn’t resolve your clients’ issues if accuracy is compromised. Finding the most productive and accurate order-picking system allows your clients to improve customer service, remain scalable and enjoy increasing profits due to superior time management across the entire warehouse. 

What is Discrete Order Picking? 

Discrete order picking manually picks orders item by item directly from the bin or shelf using a pick list, one customer order at a time. It is reliable because it reduces the risk of picking errors as pickers are focused on single orders and customer-specific items and quantities. 

Benefits of Discrete Order Picking 

This is a simple system that allows you to reap the following benefits: 

  • Love-volume manual systems don’t require an investment in technology or additional training on the floor 
  • Onboarding new employees is easier as manual processes save time on training   
  • Fewer errors as pickers focus on a single order at a time without a separate stage to sort and consolidate orders 
  • Lower start-up costs   

Cons of Discrete Order Picking 

As a manual system, there are also several cons to single-line order picking, including: 

  • More walking in the warehouse to find items for each pick list, wasting time in medium to large warehouses with large order volumes 
  • Extra walking means reduced efficiency 
  • It is a labour-intensive method that costs more money and requires more pickers 
  • It makes it very difficult to manage large order volumes 
  • It puts more pressure on pickers at busy times or in larger warehouses which can increase employee turnover 

What is Batch Picking? 

Also known as multi-order picking, this method has pickers focused on a single SKU for multiple orders. Because walk time is reduced, it works better in large warehouses and when there are larger volumes of orders. In addition, you can reduce average pick and fulfillment times due to travel time savings, increasing productivity. 

Benefits of Batch Picking 

There are several benefits to batch picking, including: 

  • You require fewer pickers so staff can be deployed to more demanding areas of the warehouse 
  • Walking distances are reduced, minimizing time and creating a more centralized system 
  • Pickers are more productive in the number of orders they can pick at once 
  • Pickers can focus on the number of orders each day only concerned with one item, as opposed to picking several individual items throughout the entire warehouse one order at a time 
  • Improved productivity allows the warehouse to produce a higher order volume without putting additional stress on workers 
  • The warehouse becomes more scalable 

Cons of Batch Picking 

There are a few cons to consider with batch picking, including: 

  • It is not as effective in smaller warehouses with a wide variety of SKUs 
  • Requires more investment up front to streamline the process 
  • Training becomes more complex with different roles 
  • Your warehouse requires a new layout to provide space for sorting and individual order consolidation 
  • Can be a more complicated process if the warehouse is poorly managed and disorganized 
  • It can increase the risk of errors at the sorting and consolidation stages 

What is Better, Single-line or Multi-line Orders? 

 Both systems, single-line and multi-line orders, work well when used in the correct settings. Single-line order picking is ideal for smaller warehouses with multiple SKUs and low order volume. However, if the business handles large volumes of orders for a set of standard SKUs and/or orders with just a few SKUs, multiple-line ordering is best. One of the benefits of VeraCore is that workflows do not need to be one size fits all. VeraCore can be configured to use batch picking for some work and utilize other picking methods for different bodies of work, providing flexibility and efficiency in the picking process. 

How to Optimize Single-line Ordering? 

One of the easiest ways to optimize single-line ordering is to use a warehouse management system to create logical picking routes. Instead of pickers relying on memory or struggling to find SKU locations, their picking list provides a picking route to reduce distances and maximize efficiency. 

How to Optimize Multi-Line Orders? 

Warehouse management software allows managers to allocate pickers at the highest-demand SKUs each day. Also, you can position the highest-demand items closer to the sorting and packing areas to speed up the process. 

When choosing the best method, the key is the scale of the warehouse, SKUs, and volume. In both scenarios, using a warehouse management system will streamline the process, providing immediate productivity improvements. 

VeraCore Arrows

VeraCore is SaaS order and warehouse management software trusted by top fulfillment companies and 3PLs. Affordable, flexible, easy to use; VeraCore is everything you need to keep clients happy and run a lean operation.

With VeraCore, you can grow your business and handle any challenge with ease. Rules-based automation enables you to control all aspects of your warehouse operation and satisfy each of your clients’ unique requirements.

Hundreds of fulfillment service providers and 10,000+ fulfillment clients place VeraCore at the “core” of their business to get the job done right, for over 40 years.

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