Cluster Picking

Cluster Picking

Cluster picking is a method of order fulfillment in which multiple items from different orders are grouped together and picked at the same time, rather than picking each order individually. This method is often used in warehouses and distribution centers to increase efficiency and reduce labor costs by reducing the number of trips that need to be made to pick items from storage.

Blog: Order Picking Automation Options to Resolve Warehouse Labor Shortage Challenges

In cluster picking, orders are grouped together based on a variety of factors, such as the location of the items in the warehouse, the size and weight of the items, and the expected volume of orders. The items in each cluster are then picked by a worker or a team of workers and placed into a container or tote for further processing.

Types of Cluster Picking

There are several different methods of cluster picking, including batch picking, zone picking, and wave picking.

  • Batch picking involves grouping orders together based on a specific criterion, such as the location of the items in the warehouse.
  • Zone picking involves grouping orders based on the location of the items in a specific area of the warehouse.
  • Wave picking involves grouping orders based on the expected volume of orders at a particular time.

Overall, cluster picking is a useful method for increasing efficiency and reducing labor costs in order fulfillment operations and is widely used in a variety of industries.

Increasing Picking Efficiency with Warehouse Automation

Today, companies can deploy several warehouse automation technologies to further increase efficiency and throughput while reducing picking labor costs. They include:

Pick-by-Voice Technology

Voice picking systems, such as Numina Group’s Victory Voice™ Suite, can increase order picking productivity by 50%. Victory Voice, Numina’s voice-independent, adaptive pick-by-voice module, directs lean, paperless picking operations and warehouse work tasks to direct and validate pick, pack, and ship operations.

Victory Voice combines the convenience of voice-directed instruction, wireless headsets, and hands-free barcode scanners for fast, paperless order picking and task validation.

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Victory Voice “talks” to warehouse operators in real-time via voice commands through a lightweight headset and speeds up the picking process by eliminating paper and manual tasks.

Voice-directed picking technology, combined with AMR Batchbot Carts, described below, has achieved picking rates of 250 or more lines per operator, double the typical performance of a voice-directed operator using a 10-12 batch order pushcart.

Batch Picking with Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

Numina’s RDS™ Batchbot™ is a batch-picking solution unites workers with pick-by-voice technology and AMR-enabled batch pick carts. The result is accelerated pick, pack and ship operations, with people and robots working as guided vehicles to reduce labor costs and double order fulfillment productivity. AMRs make excellent warehouse robots that increase efficiency by working with order pickers and move heavy products from pick locations to consolidation or packaging points.

An AMR is a small, self-powered cart or wheeled platform equipped with navigation aids and sensors. order picking is coordinated by the warehouse execution system (WES). The system releases the picking lists to warehouse workers who move from location to location, pick items, place them into an AMR cart or tote, and update the WES system as tasks are complete.

Zone Routing Conveyor Pick Module

In this technology-enhanced zone picking system, the zone routing order picking conveyor brings the work to the operators who typically work in 1 to 2 pick zones on a level within the pick module.

This picking method is referred to as person-to-goods due to the operator picking the order to a shipping carton or tote by scanning the carton barcode and is directed to 1 or more orders to the picking location along a gravity conveyor line called a flanker within each zone.

To reduce steps and increase picking speed, slot your SKUs by velocity movement so the fastest-moving products are picked along the shortest walk distance in each zone.

Voice-directed picking, when combined with zone routing pick-to-conveyor modules, will outperform manual batch order cart or pick-pass conveyor systems.

Cluster Picking Solutions by Numina Group

The Numina Group offers flexible order fulfillment solutions that support all of these cluster picking types. Numina Group’s Real-time Distribution Software (RDS™), our flagship Warehouse Execution and Control Software (WES-WCS), contains a complete family of automation modules to optimize order release optimization, cartonization, pick by voice and pick to light within pick modules and other warehouse order picking technologies.

Selecting the Right Order Picking Solution

If you’re interested in learning about order-picking strategies and other warehouse automation solutions, the Numina Group can help. As a leading warehouse automation design consultant, software developer and independent systems integrator, Numina Group has over 35 years of experience defining, designing, and implementing highly profitable automated warehouse systems.

Our automated warehouse solutions enable companies to increase productivity by 50% or more, reduce labor costs by 30% to 70%, and increase order accuracy to 99.9%.

We offer consultative warehouse automation design services to identify the right lean processes for your operations. We help you turn your design into reality by combining the power of our real-time warehouse control and execution software with cutting-edge material handling technologies.

Learn More

Video: NorthShore Care Supply Doubles Productivity with Batch Picking Combining Voice Picking and AMRs

Blog: Batch Picking with a Goods-to-Person (G2P) Automation Solution

Product Sheet: RDS™ AMR BatchBot™

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