Let’s see. One order at a time. Ten orders at a time. I wonder which methodology is better?
But seriously, parallel picking, done right, is always going to be better than serial picking. The issue is, how do you do it right? An efficient parallel operation is going to not only have multiple people picking orders at the same time, but multiple people picking multiple orders at the same time.
But which way is best? Does each person run around picking multiple orders at the same time, collecting multiple items from each zone to minimize their steps? Or is each individual assigned to a zone and required to find all of the items in the zone for all orders being processed and bring them to a central area for packing?
And if you use the latter method, how do you insure that an order is packed as soon as all items are available? How do you simplify the packer’s task of finding the right item if items from multiple orders are continually poring in? How do you prevent the pickers from getting in each others way if they are converging from all over the warehouse to a small central location? How do you make sure the packers aren’t overwhelmed with too much product at once or underwhelmed with too little product at once? Those are the real questions, and the ones that went unanswered in this article in parallel picking in Supply & Demand Chain Executive.