The order picking or order preparation operation is one of a logistic warehouse's processes. It consists in taking and collecting articles in a specified quantity before shipment to satisfy customers' orders. It is a basic warehousing process and has an important influence on supply chain's productivity. This makes order picking one of the most controlled logistic processes.
It is one of the warehouse management system functionalities.
We can identify the following main types of order picking:
- piece picking or picker to part method: the order picker(s) move(s) to collect the products necessary for one order. This is commonly seen in distribution centres for retail chains whereby a shop will require a great many replenishment goods.A picker may pick all or part of the replenishment for one shop.
- zone picking method: each order picker is assigned to one specific zone and will only realize order picking within this zone. For instance, in an electrical retail environment, both small and large items may be required and a picker on an electric vehicle such as a powered pallet truck (PPT) or an order picker vehicle may pick large and heavy items whereas a foot picker may pick small and light ones from another part of the warehouse. Eventually the two picks are collated.
- wave picking method: the order picker(s) move(s) to collect the products necessary for several orders
- sorting systems method: no movement of the order picker(s), the products are brought to him by an automatic system (conveyor system, automatic storage ...).
- pick to box method: no movement of the order picker(s), the picking area is organized so that there are a number of picking stations connected by a conveyor. The order picker fills the box with the products from his station and the box moves to the other picking stations until the customer order is complete.
There are various ways in which a pick may be communicated to a picker:
- a simple paper pick list,
- an RF terminal
- a list of labels that list an item's location -one per item being picked
- voice picking equipment
- pick to light equipment
- automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS). There are many types, but the basics are mini-load, mid-load and unit load. Each system is used to deliver totes, cases, cartons, pallets or inventory with unique physical profiles. Mini-Loads usually range up to 1000 lbs per load; Mid-Load up to 2000 lbs per load; Unit Load for pallets up to 5000 lbs per load.
- An automated dispenser, in which products are pilled up and separated from each other, and then automatically released on a conveyor belt when required (obviously not applicable to all types of merchandise)
- Piasecki, Dave. "Order Picking: Methods and Equipment for Piece Pick, Case Pick, and Pallet Pick Operations". InventoryOps.com. Retrieved 8 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>