10 ways goods-to-person order fulfillment can save you time and money

Are you trying to find ways to lower your total landed cost?

Have you evaluated goods-to-person order fulfillment in the supply chain?

If your answer is yes, this article will help you understand what goods-to-person is all about and the benefits of this way.

“Goods-to-person picking is hardly new, but now businesses are discovering the advantages of this method, not least of which is much greater productivity,” says Ken Ruehrdanz, Manager, Distributions Systems Market, DEMATIC.

 

What exactly is goods-to-person order fulfillment?

Goods-to-person means that the order picker in the warehouse stays in one place and the system brings the goods or SKUs (stock keeping units) to the person.

From there, the SKU is picked and then sent back to a storage location.

The basic system components consist of:

  • A storage medium for the product inventory
  • A technology-based method of bringing the SKUs to the pick station
  • An ergonomic workstation and software to control the flow of SKUs

There are various ways for the order to be fulfilled. For example: one SKU for one order container or one SKU for multiple orders.

Even though there are many variations on how a goods-to-person system can be configured, most the designs offer similar benefits.

Here are 10 benefits of goods-to-person order fulfillment:

 

  1. Eliminate picker travel time
    Order pickers no longer need to walk around the warehouse. By minimizing travel time, productivity is increased and the cost of labour per order is reduced.

  2. Reduced system footprint
    The space required for a goods-to-person design is less than the conventional person-to-goods method. A typical footprint may be 30 to 50 percent less than conventional person-to-goods order fulfillment centre.
  3. Product security
    When the product inventory is placed in a goods-to-person automated system (ASRS), it is secure and not available for access by your staff. Product security is important to maintain inventory accuracy and reduce theft.
  4. Ergonomic workstations
    The pick stations can be designed for employee comfort. Working heights, range of motion, and environment (lighting, temperature) can be optimized for the employee. Some designs omit the requirement to move and lift totes/cartons.
  5. Accuracy
    Order picking using a goods-to-person station is more accurate. Operators are typically handling one SKU at a time, making errors less likely. Also, it allows all work to be traced to one person.
  6. De-coupled workstations
    Staff can work in parallel, unaffected by each other. Stations can be opened and closed according to business volume on a particular shift.
  7. Each workstation is highly utilized
    Work flows into the pick station smoothly and consistently. Order pickers are highly used, since they do not need to wait for work.
    Worker productivity is not affected by the structure typical of a traditional person-to goods approach (high activity in one zone, little activity in another zone, pace issues in a pick-and-pass environment, etc.)
  8. Precise Sequencing
    When building a customer order, a precise sequence of SKUs can be achieved. For example, items can be presented to the order selector by weight (heavy to light).
  9. Improved order efficiency
    The system is not affected by changes in the order profile. For example, single item orders and multi-item orders are accommodated with equal efficiency.
  10. Accommodates SKU Growth
    If more SKUs are added, the storage system can absorb the new loads (if sized for growth).

When should you consider goods-to-person?

Goods-to-person systems should be considered especially when the user’s business objectives link to the benefits.

Canadian Industry sectors have successfully implemented goods-to- person systems including distributors of:

  • Books
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Retail grocery
  • Retail general merchandise
  • Retail apparel
  • Industrial parts
  • Medical equipment

If you have any experience with goods-to-person order fulfillment that you would like to share, let us know in the comments area below.

Goods to person pick station photography and background provided by