Components of a Successful Order Fulfillment Design
Numina Group believes in a collaborative approach when defining warehouse operation improvements for order fulfillment. It takes the combination of the DC operation’s team input and a knowledgeable partner with application expertise in the latest advancements in distribution process automation technologies to develop the right solution to fit your order profile requirements. A successful design takes wasted touches out while better managing and controlling the flow of orders throughout the operation.
At Numina Group, we are always exploring and persistently researching process and software improvements to advance the automation technologies that will help our clients thrive in a tight labor market and more complex Omni-channel distribution environments.
We apply this knowledge as a partner to your business’ growth strategy. We evaluate current and future order growth and SKU data to validate processes and technologies that will accelerate performance and eliminate the bottlenecks in your pick, pack, and ship order fulfillment operation. Omni-channel distribution with its mix of E-com and retail adds complexities that require software that manages people, processes, and product movement as an integrated, continuous order flow process. The core steps in the DC design: select and match the right processes, technologies, and automation software to manage, control, measure, and enforce the performance improvements.
A distribution operation with the right processes, technologies, and automation drive the highest return on investment. How do you get there? By performing a value stream mapping design study to understand current practices and issues holding back performance and by collaboratively brainstorming process improvements with our joint teams. This results in a superior warehouse design that will drive labor saving and order accuracy, obtaining an order fulfillment solution tailored to your operation requirements.
Here are a few components that lead to a Successful Order Fulfillment Distribution Center Design:
- DC road map – Data is key – so start with current analysis of yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily order and SKU shipment data. Calculate the cost per order of each shipment category order type. This exercise will create a lot of team input and also result in everyone agreeing on one version of the truth!
- SKU Slotting Analysis – Reviewing and understanding the order SKU Velocity and cube size drives the DC footprint requirements and the SKU slotting plan. Proper floor space and SKU slotting reduces congestion; secondary product moves to reduce wasted labor costs and improve throughput. Good slotting practices in the forward picking areas and pick aisles not only improve picking efficiencies, it reduces replenishment labor and increases inventory accuracy.
- Facility Sizing – are you out of space/ have you fully used the current cube capacity of your building prior to making a move to a new facility? Dense storage technologies, vertical storage modules, and multi level pick modules can be considered to extend the life of your current operation while adding efficiency to the order fulfillment process. Valuable building space can often be found by going up!
- Lean Operations – Lean up operations and engineer out the non-valued touches and material movement in the operations. Determine which steps can be eliminated in your picking and packing operation. It may be more efficient to pick A and B movers in high speed pick zones using conveyor or batch pick carts and have a parallel picking process to manage the C and D SKU’s, then consolidate fast and slow movers using an order consolidation put wall at packing. These issues and picking processes should be compared and contrasted during the design, and possibly modeled to select the right process improvement. Find and root-out wasted labor! For instance, if your operation uses 4 or more people to do the mundane tasks of manually building cartons, hand taping boxes, and manually manifesting and labeling shipments, there are several ways to cut costs and eliminate the bottleneck in the pack and ship operation. Technologies as simple as a semi-automatic carton taper and carton erector can deliver a huge ROI by eliminating low value labor while increasing employee productivity and job satisfaction.
- Invest in Technology – Warehouse automation software, called Warehouse Execution and Control software, WES-WCS magnifies good processes and practices. It must have scalable architecture and contain all the software components to manage material handling equipment and order fulfillment processes. One of the most significant cost savings automation modules found in a tier one WES-WCS is Pick by Voice. The latest generation voice picking technology, referred to as a Voice Suite is proven to lower labor costs and increase accuracy to deliver an outstanding ROI. It goes beyond traditional voice picking applications and blends voice directed workforce management together with the entire pick, pack, and ship process and other automation technologies. Our Voice Suite must have scalability and capabilities to cost effectively manage as little as 10 pickers in a DC, yet scale to 100+ concurrent users without any degradation in performance. It supports multiple picking strategies and includes order release management, Cartonization for pick and pack direct to the shipping carton, and labor tracking and performance metrics reporting. The highest ROI happens with order fulfillment processes that are united and automated.
Numina Group’s Real-time Distribution Software, RDS™ Voice Suite meets all of the functionality outlined above and is designed to manage and enforce better order fulfillment processes. It is a multi-modal application combining voice commands and hands-free barcode scan validation to increase picking speeds and drive 99.99% single touch pick and pack order accuracy. It includes tools to both manage forward picking inventory replenishment and cycle counting and storage location slotting practices. RDS™ Voice includes a velocity based SKU slotting measurement software module. It assists in keeping the highest moving SKUs located along the shortest order picking travel path. The module measures SKU velocity during the picking process to identify and report poorly slotted or changing velocity SKUs to alert management that an item requires re-slotting.
What’s New- Robots/Cobots– Autonomous vehicles/ cooperative robots, called Cobots, are installed or coming to a distribution operation like yours in the near future! Cobots combined with voice directed picking can increase the picking process efficiency an additional 15 – 20% by coordinating the operators picking tasks with Cobots cart movement through the pick and pack operation. Adding Cobots to a batch cart pick process eliminates non-value work of an operator manually pushing carts between zones and moving the pick completed carts to the pack area.
Numina Group Design Study Services
- Quickly and cost effectively uncover the right processes and blend of automation to increase order fulfillment productivity 35 – 70% or more!
- Our experienced software engineers will assist your team in developing lean, low touch processes and then implement the automation with a payback of typically 12 to 24 month return on investment.
Contact us today to arrange a free site review meeting for all your order fulfillment needs. The Numina Group has over 30 years of experience designing and automating warehouses to maximize capacity, increase accuracy, and reduce labor costs. Our RDS™ Voice Suite and WES-WCS can seamlessly integrate pick by voice, pick to light, conveyor systems, Cobots, ASRS, Pack to Light order consolidation, in-motion Scan-Weigh-Dim, and Print and Apply labeling into a united and automated order fulfillment solution.