A better supply chain serves us all. Let's eat.

Three warehouse key order selection mistakes

Posted by IFCO Systems
December 28, 2017

The warehouse order selector plays a critical role in accurately and efficiently assembling the retail store order. When the order arrives in excellent condition and ready for display, the job of retail is made easier. On the other hand, when you cut free the pallet wrap and then have to dash to get out of the way of falling product, the opposite is the result.

Unfortunately, the job of order selecting is often relegated to the newest and the least experienced employees. Given the very high employee turnover rate that warehouses often experience, this can create an ongoing challenge for supervisors to train quickly and coach new hires in the art and science of building perfect orders. There are three other areas where selectors often go wrong:

  • Too many footsteps - Order selectors are trained to drive as close as possible to the product location to minimize the amount of footsteps required to pick the product and then place it on the pallet they are building. Additionally, the order selector should already have chosen a spot to position the case before arriving. When the selector arrives at the pallet and only then starts to decide where to stack the product, the result is wasted time. In turn, this often leads to unnecessary footsteps and shuffling of already picked items. In selection, efficiency depends upon a “one-touch” versus a multiple touch process.
  • Too many product touches – When it comes to fresh produce, achieving "one-touch" order selection can be particularly challenging. For example, bulky items can crush more fragile products. Flimsy or bulging boxes placed at the base of the pallet may fail, resulting in pallet collapse. Wet product should not be placed on top of dry product, where there will be exposure to runoff. Such complexities can easily lead to inefficient order selection.
  • Decision-making hesitation - order selectors are expected to work at a brisk pace to achieve productivity goals. To succeed, they must optimize their movements and decision making so that they do not waste time.

RPCs Take Away the Extra Steps

RPCs are designed to support “one-touch” efficiency for order selectors, helping them to achieve their quality and productivity expectations. Because RPCs have a standard footprint, they are easily stacked at a quick glance even by new employees, eliminating the hesitation and wasted footsteps often required to accommodate a hodgepodge of expendable packaging sizes, shapes, and sizes. Additionally, the strength of RPCs allows heavy product to be safely stacked on top of lighter product with no risk of product damage. RPCs eliminate the inefficiencies all too familiar in produce order selection.

RPCs offer other overlooked benefits at the warehouse. Because of their stability, they can be built higher, while requiring less wrap. And because they do not overhang the outside edges of the pallet, this translates into efficiencies of movement, storage and loading. How often are pallets left behind that should fit on a load, but because of too much overhang, they don't?

The key to boosting order selector productivity and quality is through streamlining motions to minimize footsteps, product touches, and decision-making delays - all made possible through RPCs. Switching to IFCO RPCs can be a powerful first step towards order selection excellence.

Topics: Warehousing