Modern Retail

Colour picking – can it improve Order Fulfillment?

Efficient and modern order processing is more important today than ever before. Internal processes must be put to the test as new challenges are to be met.  For many sectors “on demand” orders with shorter delivery times are becoming the norm.  Its no secret that demand fluctuation is also a big challenge for manufacturers and distributors, but this problem has become even more apparent. In fact, many fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers and distributors are experiencing their highest spikes ever. They are facing an unprecedented (and likely unexpected) predicament right now! How to produce an overwhelming demand for essential (e.g. prepared food, cleaning products, non-prescription medicines, toiletries) while facing a surge in e-commerce sales.

As the world slowly recovers from COVID-19, consumer demand for some of these products might slow down, but experts predict the undistributed shift to e-commerce as a main shopping outlet will remain steady.  With a potential second wave on the horizon, we’re finding warehouse managers are searching for ways to manage future demand spikes. The answer starts with an underlying foundation and Kardex is experiencing a surge of requests for a well-organised and efficient production and order fulfillment process.

A few years ago, Kardex developed a new solution, based on the principles of pick-to-light technology, Colour Picking guides multiple operators through the picking process using colour as pick-lights.  This allows warehouse managers to add or reduce staff based on order demands.  It has a proven track record to increase picking throughput, improve performance and optimise labour costs.

Quote: Thomas Lampinen who is the supply chain manager for KICKS cosmetics had this to say, “Before we were ten people picking in one area and we reduced it to four people and they were actually picking faster than what ten people did before and also the stock quality was really improving and the picking quality, because we reduced the amount of mispicks.”

An example of a common Colour Picking work zone includes eight vertical carousel modules (VCM) RS – four on each side facing each other with a pick lane between them. Orders are transferred via a software interface from the host system (ERP/PPS) to the warehouse management software (WMS), Power Pick Global. Power Pick Global dynamically creates batches of orders based on customer criteria (e.g., required delivery date, priority, shipping method, line of business).

When the batch starts, the system automatically assigns a colour to the cart and all units with order lines for that batch show the matching colour and move to retrieve the stored items required. All picking carts consecutively pass through each area. They do not overtake or pass batch carts. The same cart is assigned a different colour in another storage area or in a new batch. The operator follows the pick-to-light colours on the pick locations and batch carts during the entire picking process, picking and putting goods easily and quickly with the correct order (box or compartment in the picking cart).

Kardex has prepared a white paper on the benefits of usage of colour picking with customer user examples as well as an educational on-demand webinar. To learn more, download our free white paper on the benefits of colour picking.

Debra Wilkins

Debra Wilkins

Debra Wilkins is the Marketing Manager for Kardex Remstar, a global developer of automated storage and retrieval solutions. Kardex currently services more than 20,000 installations across the nation, and are helping retailers to optimise their storage and picking through automation. With more than 30 years’ experience and an early member of the UK Women in IT Steering Committee, Debra is a seasoned veteran in understanding and relaying the benefits of technology, with articles in many computing magazines, such as Network Computing. She is also a fully qualified counsellor and as such has spoken at conferences on how automation is not only inevitable, but also is changing the way businesses and society interact with each other.