Different strategies in order picking for inventory management

////Different strategies in order picking for inventory management

As discussed recently, inventory management heavily relies on distributors and manufacturers utilizing order picking to complete customer orders. There are various components to picking merchandise, from the type of unit to recover to its storage areas and methods of retrieval. The concept takes into consideration tracking items through the use of Microsoft Dynamics NAV Barcode Scanning. There are also specific strategies to order picking designed to minimize the amount of time workers move around while ensuring maximum access to in-demand products. Here are some of the different methods of picking that will enable ideal results:

Batch picking

Sometimes the best solution is not to handle orders one at a time, but in multiple orders at once. Batch picking, as suggested by distribution supplier Southwest Solutions, allows employees to grab multiple items for an order or multiple orders in a single batch. This method is particularly useful since it can be done either manually or automatically. The manual strategy simply requires an employee to create an optimal route so he or she can retrieve all the items in one pass without going out of his or her way. With automated systems, a worker enters all the necessary SKUs so the conveyors and carousels grab the necessary products for delivery. This is often best in moderate-volume operations.

Zone picking

Larger warehouses with heavy traffic may have a harder time performing effective routes to get the necessary merchandise. That’s why zone picking may be a better strategy, according to Newcastle Systems. In this situation, the distributor splits the warehouse into multiple areas and then assigns employees to only pick within that zone. What’s particularly useful about this strategy is the flexibility in storage technology available to different areas. Some zones may find manual picking most effective, while vertical carousels may make more sense in other parts. Movement of items can either happen in an assembly-line-like manner by going from zone to zone or through sending everything to a hub zone for final processing.

Wave picking

For distributors that have a wide variety of popular products, the idea of moving single orders around may be cumbersome. Instead, wave picking may be a more effective solution. With this, products get grouped based on certain criteria, varying from priority to specific shipments to stores or customers. They then get sorted through different automation practices so they fit within individual orders. This allows companies to process multiple orders at once, instead of a single order at a time.

Pick and pass

There are certain methods of order transit within the warehouse, especially when zone picking is in use. Pick and pass takes the production line approach to moving items around. In this situation, items move from zone to zone in a bin. With each new area, items related to the order are added. The bin goes through every zone until it reaches the final point of processing with the expectation that all the items are in the bin. In this system, tracking is important, meaning that NAV Barcode Scanning becomes a very useful asset to maintain an efficient operation.


With many distributors, it may be best to take a simultaneous approach to order processing. Order consolidation takes the hub-and-spoke approach of transit, in that items come in from multiple zones to a single area for processing. After retrieving everything, the distributor finalizes the order and places it on a transport vehicle for delivery. With this method, companies can complete an order in a single run without having to wait for it to go through the entire warehouse.

Businesses interested in learning how NAV Barcode Scanning can better enable order picking should download the “Keeping the Physical World and the Virtual World in Sync” white paper today.