Considerations in Evaluating a Batch Fulfillment System

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As specific business needs dictate, the following requirements should be considered when evaluating a batch pick system. The batch pick system should:

  • Either increase picking productivity and reduce the overall operational labor OR increase operational capacity and possibly eliminate facility expansion
  • Provide user (selector) interfaces that are simple, easy to read, visible for all work positions and free the use of selectors hands as much as possible
  • Satisfy order accuracy requirements
  • Provide physical compatibility of carts, modules and stations within aisles and the overall facility
  • Provide seamless integration of carts, modules and stations of multiple types
  • Allow highly efficiently handling of normal job processing as well as exceptions
  • Provide a simple means of allowing customized pick exceptions
  • Support multiple picking strategies (pick and pass, bucket brigades, gather and pack, etc.
  • Minimize release and setup time for complete & new orders
  • Organize work to minimize transit time
  • Allow selectors to re-locate and change direction of their assigned work
  • Allow efficient transfer of containers between locations
  • Adapt, in real time, to operational variances and user modified conditions
  • Allow simple inclusion of new storage locations and deletion of existing locations
  • Allow simple organization of the pick path sequence suggested by the system
  • Minimize disruption of existing operations during installation
  • Minimize modifications required to existing software system

In addition to the above stated requirements, the following system features are also worth considering:

  • Number of and ergonomic suitability of batch pick cells
  • “Next start” order optimization
  • Efficiency in utilization of pick cells, allow staging to avoid wasting
  • Battery life
  • Multiple validation options for the picked item:
    • No validation
    • Scan storage location
    • Scan item UPC
    • Scan storage location or item UPC
    • Scan storage location and item UPC
    • Full visual validation
  • Multiple validation options the correct order to pick:
    • No validation
    • Scan cell
    • Scan container
    • Scan cell or container
    • Scan cell and container
    • Voice assisted picking
  • Put lights options
    • Single light per cell
    • Put lights—numerical display per cell
    • Put lights with one confirmation button per vehicle
    • Put lights with one confirmation button per cell
  • Automatic drawers with push/pull mechanisms
  • Zone inventory managed by:
    • Host computer
    • Batch pick system
  • Cartonization:
    • Host cartonized (system has to allow selectors to split cartons in case of cartonization error)
    • Selector cartonized
  • Vehicles
    • Push cart
    • Self-propelled cart
    • Cherry picker vehicle (flat rack and carousel rack)
  • Storage locations
  • Fixed and non-fixed SKUs
  • Single and multiple SKUs per location
  • Single and multiple locations per SKU
  • Multi-zone operations
  • Video camera to help selector “see” what is in front of the cart
  • Internal phone system/PBX connection to workstations
  • Shortest path information to reach the next location from any place
  • Pick-Through-Zero for “opportunistic” cycle count
  • Weight validation

Smart Cart Vendors

SOFT™ supports all the listed features for batch pick systems and can implement any additional features that the customer may require for their specific application.