Barcode App - Wave Order Picking

Wave order picking header image

Improve Your Efficiency and Accuracy with Wave Picking

In addition to single order picking and the pick and pack method, Finale Inventory provides support for wave picking. When it's implemented correctly in your facility, wave picking can improve productivity while keeping operating costs low — effectively helping you get more out of your team without compromising accuracy. On this page, we'll provide an overview of wave picking, its main benefits, batch order vs. market order, and some of the ways Finale Inventory can help you implement it in your warehouse packing procedures.

What is Wave Picking?

Wave picking is the process of combining multiple orders in a batch to reduce the required number of picking trips. These batches can be defined according to several factors — location, priority, shipping carrier and more, according to the needs of your operation.

When you have a high volume of orders coming in, wave picking is an excellent way to increase productivity. However, to ensure that accuracy is maintained and no orders are forgotten, sophisticated software is needed, which is where Finale Inventory comes in.

How Does Wave Picking Work?

Finale's mobile barcode scanner makes it easy to pick and pack multiple orders in a single trip to the warehouse. With our Android barcode app, you can create consolidated lists for order pickers that identify how many of a given SKUs are required. Then, using the directed picking capability on the scanner, your team can pick individual items and pack them in sequence, rather than proceeding one order at a time.

The scanner helps ensure order accuracy by providing an audio and visual confirmation when the correct product is scanned, or a warning buzz and accompanying message when the wrong product is scanned. It then prompts the next item required, until the completed order is ready to go.

Once you batch the orders, you'll then need to enter the wave picking process.  Here, you typically assign each order to a corresponding Tote or Bin as shown below.  The scanner app keeps track of specifically which tote or bin the order belongs to, and as you're pulling inventory, the scanner will prompt you to place the items into the corresponding totes or bins of the orders that require them.

Wave picking bin tote cart

Once you've assigned all of your orders to totes or bins, you then begin pulling the inventory.  Here is where Finale's mobile barcode scanner will direct the picker through the warehouse, most commonly in alphanumerical order of sublocation (see example below).

Wave flow chart picking

As you go through the warehouse, you'll fulfill each order, so by the time you reach the end of the warehouse, all of the orders in the batch will be fully picked and packed.  The only step left would be to physically package the orders with shipping labels.

Benefits of Wave Picking Order Fulfillment

The main advantage of wave packing is its ability to reduce the travel time through the warehouse. Consolidating picks according to specific qualitative and quantitative criteria lets your team process them in the manner that makes the most sense rather than as they come in.

Wave inventory tracking and order picking isn't right for every business. Typically it yields the most benefits for medium- to high-volume operations with a low number of SKUs — or operations where orders with the same SKUs are common.

What to Avoid and How Finale Inventory Can Help

Potential drawbacks to wave inventory picking include the possibility of fulfillment delays when working with a high number of SKUs — in some cases, it may also lead to unacceptable levels of idle time for order pickers. Wave picking can also be a problem when you're dealing with heavy or bulky items that are difficult to transport together in a single trip.

Finale Inventory works closely with each client to find solutions that work best for their business. We can help you determine whether or not wave picking is the right choice for your warehouse and configure a management system that does it effectively. Our platform is scalable, fast and flexible enough to accommodate multiple management methods.

Get Started Today

However you organize your warehouse, Finale Inventory is an essential tool. To learn more about wave picking with our product, contact us or sign up for a free trial today!

Check out the video below to learn more about our wave picking batch order picking solution.

Wave Picking - Finale Inventory Barcode Scanner

Video Transcription

Hello, Mike from Finale Inventory. In this short video, we're gonna discuss wave picking. It's an advanced method of picking orders using the Finale Data Collector and the Mobile Barcode Scanner, so you can actually make one trip to the warehouse and pick and pack multiple orders all at the same time. So to give you a little bit more insight, we'll define wave picking. You know, where do we come up with that term? Well, it's using one trip or a wave through the warehouse to achieve complete order fulfillment of multiple orders all at the same time. So you'll see this is, kind of, an example of the new wave pick screen, we'll go into that a little bit more detail too.

So to kind of give you a better visual, imagine you make a...Or utilizing a mobile cart, so you see two pictures here of two different carts maybe that you're gonna use to possibly go through your warehouse to pick multiple orders at the same time. So we're gonna introduce a concept in wave picking called a Slot. Now, we define a slot as a box, a bin, or a container on a mobile cart that you will use to sort and organize separate orders for picking and packing multiple orders at the same time on the same mobile cart. So as you see there on the right picture that's gonna be, kind of, our example where we've got some plastic bins and we're gonna be placing the pick tickets inside of those bins and you see that each bin has a slot number, so I have a slot 1 and a slot 2, I even have two more slots on this cart so that's the way we're gonna look at it.

But, you know, the picture on the left here is, kind of, maybe more of a real-world example where you might have a bigger cart with more bins on it that you can actually pick even more orders. So an example we're gonna go over, we're gonna do four orders, but as you see that cart in the background can handle a lot more than four orders, and so can our wave picking software. So let's jump on over to Finale and let's take a closer look. So we're gonna set this story up here, we're in Finale here, and we've got four example orders that we've entered into the system. So if I go to my sales I've got these exp 1, 2, 3, and 4 and these came over to us from ship station. So if I was to go look at the inventory that we're gonna be working with, I'll jump over to my stock screen. You'll see that we've got some blank PVC cards, so I'm gonna, kind of, maybe give you an example. When I say "PVC card," it's just blank credit card stock that we're gonna be using.

So this is what we're going after on the orders, we're gonna be picking these from the bends you see there in the background. So let's take a look at the orders over in Ship Station. So if I bring up ship station we'll see that these orders actually originated here so here they are exp 1, 2, 3, and 4. And your normal procedure, if you wanted to pick an order, is you, you know, you select multiple orders so I may select all these orders here and Ship Station, now you can imagine you could have 30, 50, 100, it doesn't matter. But if I select multiple orders, I can then utilize the print and I could say, "Print packing slips," and I can also print a consolidated pick list, and that's gonna be really the example, so our bar code scanners are really gonna achieve this consolidated pick list.

So let's look at maybe the packing slips, so if you printed your packing slips in Shipstation, you'd see, "Hey I got a packing slip for this Exp order number 1 and another one for 2, and another one for 3 and so on. Then you can see there are some common items on each of these orders, so we got like red stock there and black and yellow and gold and then we have...oh, we have black again on this one, and we also have red on this one and a yellow. So you can, kind of, see, "Man, if we were to make an efficient trip to that warehouse we could use Wave. And if that bar code scanner could guide us in the most efficient fashion to go through that warehouse, and I could pick everything for all these orders and pack it all at one time, that's the goal of way picking." So and, of course, here's an example. So if we consolidated the actual pick part of this, then it would say, "Hey, you need to get three of these, two of these, two of these and one of these." But you'd also need to distribute those correctly across the individual orders, that's what our wave picking bar code scanner is gonna do for you. So let's go take a look at this in even more detail. So let's bring this back into reality, I'm gonna try and set my screen up here for you. Okay, pulling up my barcode scanner here, now it'll give you a look at the scanner and we'll go through this procedure. So first thing we're gonna do is take our packing slips and get them ready, so it doesn't matter what order they're in, but on the scanner we would select Pick, then we're gonna choose Wave and the first thing this scanner is gonna do is scan us to...ask us to scan an order ID and a slot name. So you would take a packing slip like this and you would take the scanner and scan the order ID and then it'll ask you to scan a slot name, so I wanna put it in this slot right here which is slot number one and I'm gonna scan that slot and then we just go to the next one. Now we can continue to just do it that way, now some other ways that some people like to do it is just to put the order in the bin itself.

So I'm going to go ahead and put the orders in the bin like that and if I put them all in the bins then all I gotta do is go back and scan an order ID. So if I grab an order ID and then I scan a slot. And then I scan another order ID and then another slot, another order ID and another slot. So now I've got four orders loaded up and so if you look on the screen there, we can see that we've got four orders scanned right here, so the next thing you do if that's all you're gonna do, is you're ready to start that wave. You choose the menu button and then start picking. So the first thing it's gonna do is tell us to go in the warehouse and we're gonna be following there. As you see, we're gonna be looking at finding A04. So it's telling us to go to A04 in the warehouse, which is where we're gonna find the yellow blank PVC card. So this is my warehouse in the back here so imagine these are different locations in the warehouse. So A04 is this one right here, so all I need to do is scan the location and now it tells us to get one of the yellow card, so I'm gonna reach in here, grab a yellow card.

So we'll put this and now notice the screen says slot 3, so it's telling us where to put it too. So I'm gonna scan the yellow item and then it tells us, "Hey, confirm that you're going to put that into slot 3," which is the order that we're actually ending up picking this item for. So, if I do that, I put it in that bin and I also scan the slot. So I'm gonna scan that slot to confirm it. So then it tells us, "Hey, yellow again, we need one of them," but this time, look at the top of the screen, it's actually showing us slot 4. So we're gonna pick another one from the same location so if I grab that one out of the bin, we're gonna scan it and it tells us, "Hey, put it in slot 4.

So I'm gonna confirm that I put it in slot 4, now it tells us, "Go to A7," so I would go to A7 in the warehouse and it tells us, "You need to get one of the red." So I'll reach in here and get one from the red and as I scan that, I know it's going in slot 1 because it tells me at the top the screen, I'm gonna put it in slot 1. Now, also notice, that the screen is telling us a lot of information at the same time, so it tells us to confirm that it's slot 1. It also tells us, "Hey, that there should only be one left in that location and that the next pick is for the same item. So the user will get used to these prompts and you know it's telling me exactly what needs to be done. So I'm gonna scan slot 1 to confirm that I put it in there but what if I accidentally scan the wrong one? What does it do?

Gives you a warning sound and it tells you, "Hey, you didn't do what you're supposed to do." I say, "Oh, yeah, I scanned the wrong slot, so let me make sure. So I need to get another one, so I'm gonna reach into A07 and get another red one. And scan it and it's going in slot number three. So I put it in slot three and confirm that. Now it tells us to go to A08 the next location. And then it tells us we need one of the golds, so I'm gonna grab a gold out of here and that's going to slot number 4, I need to go to A09. And then I need to get a black one, so I'll reach in here and grab a black and put it in slot 1 and confirm slot 1. This next we need to get two of them and it's going in slot 2, so I'm gonna reach in here and get two more blacks and notice that it says, "Keep going," because they're supposed to be two.

So telling us we need to get one more, so I can scan it again, put it in slot 2, confirm that and it says, "All orders are done." So we just completed one trip through the warehouse, and remember, it started with like location number four, and then it went to seven, then eight, then nine. So when in order...and we picked all the items on all four orders and it guided us through the whole thing and it also gave us confirmations of stock levels left, and it confirmed and we had to confirm which bin we actually put it in to make sure it was packed correctly. And that's it, that's all you do. So if I say Complete here we just completed that whole wave. Of course, the next thing you would do would be to connect this back to your PC and your workstation. So I'm gonna go back to Home and then we're gonna hit Barcode Scanning, connect, connect to the scanner.

There are all our orders. we have the four orders being picked. We're going to upload that to the cloud. And we just now completed picking those orders, so if I go back you'll see they've all been packed and that's an example on how to use wave picking with Finale Data Collector and our Mobile Scanner.