Basic Order Picking With Scanner

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Although it’s not the only order picking method, basic or discrete order picking can be the best option in certain circumstances. Using Finale Inventory and a barcode scanner, the mobile data collector can help to simplify your warehouse picking process, leading to fewer order errors and more efficient workflow.

The mobile data collector has several options to pick and pack your sales orders to allow for maximum flexibility and to align with the workflows of your picking operations.  The most simple method is called basic order picking. With the basic order picking method, you fulfill orders one at a time with the scanner.

Note shown in video: WiFI syncing also available

After an order is selected, the scanner will tell the warehouse picker the first item that needs to be scanned to fulfill the order. After the picker has scanned the correct barcode and number of units, the scanner will confirm the items were correctly scanned and ask the picker to scan the second product. This process continues until the picker has accurately scanned all the items in the order.

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The Importance of Order Picking

The arrival of a customer order triggers a series of events. First, the facility needs to verify the items a person has ordered are actually in-stock and ready to ship out. Then, it needs to produce a list of the items in the order, known as a “pick list.” Finally, an employee, or “picker” is sent out into the warehouse to retrieve the items and prepare them for shipping.

Although it may seem inconsequential, order picking can account for 55% of a warehouse’s total operating costs. The total costs of order picking can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Time spent traveling through the warehouse.
  • Time spent searching for the items.
  • Time spent pulling items from shelves or bins.
  • Time spent sorting through paperwork or preparing items for shipment.

Travel time through the warehouse is usually the largest cost consideration for order picking. If pickers are spending a lot of time moving up and down aisles or traveling from one end of the warehouse to the other, it can increase the time it takes to pack a shipment, decrease the number of orders shipped each day and increase overall costs. For that reason, many companies find ways to streamline the travel time or arrange the warehouse so that the items that are most frequently ordered require the least amount of travel.

Choosing the right picking system and taking steps to ensure that orders are picked accurately has multiple benefits for a company:

  • It can keep costs down: Since order picking makes up so much of a warehouse’s total costs, finding ways to streamline and improve it can dramatically improve a company’s bottom line. Orderly picking can reduce costs not only by improving the speed of shipments but also by reducing errors. The fewer picking mistakes your company makes, the less it will have to spend on returns, winning back customers or adjusting inventory.
  • It can ensure customer satisfaction: When a person places an order with a company, they have a few expectations. They expect to receive the items they purchased and they expect to receive them by the promised delivery date. The more accurate your order picking method, the more likely your customers will get exactly what they wanted. An efficient order picking system also helps reduce bottlenecks in the warehouse and can improve the speed at which orders are sent to customers. The happier your customers are, the more likely they are to return to your company again and again.
  • It can reduce the rate of returns: People return items they ordered for a variety of reasons. They may have changed their minds between the time they placed the order and the time the item arrived at their home. When they see the item up close or try it on, they may decide it isn’t a good fit for them. Or, the item they end up receiving may not be the item they ordered in the first place. While the right order picking method won’t reduce returns due to customers changing their minds, it can help reduce returns and calls to customer service because the item someone ordered wasn’t the item they received.
  • It can increase shipping speed: The faster your pickers are able to grab items off the warehouse shelves and pack them up, the faster those items will leave the warehouse and get in the hands of customers.
  • It can ease the strain on warehouse staff: Choosing the best order picking method not only improves speed and increases customer satisfaction, but it can also improve your employees’ on-the-job experience. Order picking can be a physically demanding job, requiring people to race up and down aisles and spend a lot of time on their feet. A picking system that’s designed to be efficient and streamlined will reduce the amount of physical effort your team needs to make.

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Purpose of Basic Order Picking or Discrete Order Picking Fulfillment

Discrete order picking requires a person to go through each order one-by-one, selecting and scanning items one at a time. It’s the simplest of all order picking methods and can also be one of the most accurate.

Discrete order picking with a scanner helps to streamline the process and increase accuracy. There’s little to no chance that a picker will choose the wrong item off the shelf when they use a scanner. If they try to scan the barcode of the wrong item, the mobile data collector will immediately let them know of the error. Minimizing errors in picking helps to streamline the process of fulfilling orders and increase customer satisfaction.

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Where Does Discrete Order Picking Work Best?

There are some situations that discrete order picking is better suited for than others. For example, it is often ideal for companies that receive a low volume of orders each day or that tend to send out oversized or heavy items. Basic order picking can also work well in smaller warehouses. Companies that send out hundreds of orders daily or that have large warehouses might find batch picking is a better option for them.

Cases where discrete order picking can be ideal include:

  • When a warehouse has a small staff: If the number of pickers working in a warehouse is small, it often makes sense to use a basic or discrete order picking method. The picking system allows a warehouse to track the accuracy of each staff member. It also allows a warehouse to assign each person a distinct order so multiple orders can be packed up and shipped at the same time.
  • When orders are for multiple items:If customers regularly place multi-item orders, discrete order picking can be the most appropriate method to use. It helps to ensure every item a person purchased ends up in the box that gets shipped to their door.
  • When the items ordered are very large: In some instances, discrete order picking is the best option if the items ordered are large or if orders contain a single, oversized item. It can be challenging to place more than one oversized item in a cart at the same time, so these types of orders are often best handled on an individual basis.

Is Discrete Order Picking Right for Your Company?

There are a few things to consider if you’re trying to decide if discrete order picking is the right method for your business.

  • The number of orders you receive: If you receive hundreds of orders daily and need to get those orders shipped out quickly, a more efficient process, such as batch picking, might be a better option for you. But if your company is relatively small and only gets a handful of orders each day, basic order picking can be appropriate.
  • The size of your staff: How many people you have picking orders also helps to determine which is most appropriate. If you have a small staff, it can make more sense to assign each person an order and have them go about choosing the items for that order off the shelves. If your team is larger, you can divvy up orders to help things run more efficiently.
  • The size of your warehouse: One notable drawback of discrete order picking is that it requires a person to travel throughout the warehouse grabbing items off the shelves. A large warehouse can make basic order picking a challenge, especially if items in an order are on opposite ends of the warehouse.
  • What’s in each order: The average order size or the variety of items in the order also play a role when it comes to choosing the best type of picking method for your company. Discrete order picking works best when orders contain a variety of items.

Discrete Order Picking With the Mobile Data Collector

Discrete order picking is often used with printed paper copies of an order. Replacing printed pick lists with a barcode scanner and Finale’s mobile data collector is one way to help streamline the discrete order picking process and reduce the risk of mistakes. The mobile data collector can be used on barcode scanners with either Windows Mobile or Android operating systems. It also runs on Android phones and is easily downloaded through Google Play.

Each item in your warehouse is assigned a unique number, which contains multiple pieces of data, such as the supplier, size and weight of the product. Attached to the number is a barcode. Scanning the code with the scanner will bring up all the relevant information about the item. The mobile data collector is designed to help simplify all aspects of your company’s warehousing needs, from receiving items to transferring items between locations and from picking sales orders to conducting stock takes.

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Using the Scanner After an Order Is Selected

Using the scanner to pick items after you’ve selected an order is simple. You can input the order number into the scanner manually or scan the barcode printed on the order sheet to bring it up on the scanner. Once the order is on the scanner, you’ll be directed to scan the barcode of the items in the order. After scanning the barcode, you’ll hear a tone to indicate that the scan has gone through. If the order contains multiple quantities of the same item, the tone will be different after you scan the final item in the order to let you know that you’ve scanned enough.

After you’ve picked and scanned each item, you can review the order on the scanner to confirm that you scanned everything and nothing is missing.

Benefits of Basic Order Picking With Finale’s Mobile Data Collector

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There are multiple benefits of using Finale’s mobile data collector for discrete order picking. Some of the advantages of using the scanner include:

  • It’s efficient: The scanners are hand-held and easy to carry around the warehouse. Scanning barcodes allows a person to pick items for orders much more quickly than they would be able to if they had to manually confirm the SKU, ISBN or product name.
  • It improves accuracy: It is pretty much impossible to select the wrong item for an order using the mobile data collector. If a person scans the wrong item or the wrong barcode, the system will immediately let them know.
  • It lets you double-check entries: The scanner uses a variety of tones to alert the person using it to any issues or to signal they have scanned the correct number of items. Scanned items are also color-coded. For example, if a person scans the wrong item, the entry will be highlighted in red on the scanner’s screen. When the correct item is scanned, it shows up highlighted in green. After scanning items, a person can review the order to confirm that they have collected everything.
  • It’s user-friendly: The mobile data collector is designed to be intuitive and user-friendly. The menu screen features a list of options to get people started picking and has a touch-screen interface.
  • It’s budget-friendly: Your business doesn’t need to invest in a particular scanner to use our software. Finale Inventory works with any type of laser barcode scanner or with Android phones. Instead of having to purchase hardware that might be beyond your budget, you can choose the scanners that will work best for you.

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The Ease and Simplicity of Pick and Order Fulfillment With Finale

Discrete order picking is the simplest order picking method out there. Finale Inventory software and scanners make it even simpler. Using the barcode scanner allows your team to pick the right items for an order every time. They’ll be able to see instantly if the wrong item was scanned.

The scanners are just one part of a comprehensive barcode inventory management system that can streamline your warehouse operations, reduce order errors and improve your inventory accuracy. If you’re ready to improve your order picking process and order accuracy, Finale Inventory can help make that happen. Contact us today to schedule a demonstration and to start your free, 14-day trial.