On-floor travel time is widely acknowledged as a key to lowering costs, especially labor, in the warehouse. According to our recent Voice of the Warehouse Worker Insights, workers spend more than a third (38%) of their day walking to different places between tasks and assignments. Reduce your pickers travel time through the ideal travel path calculation and unlock a wealth of benefits.
Complicating the matter is that minimizing total travel time isn’t the only priority we need to take into consideration. The priority of each pick based on shipping deadlines can compete with travel minimization and also evolves in its level of importance throughout the day. For example, in the morning, we may want to maximize picking density to improve the efficiency of our pickers without much concern about shipping deadlines. Later in the day, those shipping deadlines become more important, so we need to adjust how we prioritize each pick, emphasizing the importance of shipping deadlines. Historically this problem has been solved using heuristic-based approaches for both batching and navigating the warehouse, namely FIFO and S-shaped pathing, respectively.
AI and machine learning based approaches are able to exploit the large amounts of data collected about this process in almost every warehouse management system. The system learns how to balance priorities to ensure we optimize for efficiency while still meeting all shipping deadlines with high confidence. Additionally, by leveraging historical picking data, you can take into consideration common congestion areas and slow-moving routes to efficiently calculate the fastest pick path. In cases where we have seen customers leverage these types of AI systems, we see an average of 50% labor cost savings while simultaneously increasing the probability of meeting outbound shipping deadlines. Illustrating the dramatic benefits and gains organizations can achieve, Southwire, which operates 10 North American customer service centers, saw productivity gains of 30-50% after implementing an AI-based travel optimization solution for cart picking of ecommerce orders.
As with any implementation of new systems and software, involving the right stakeholders, deciding what processes you most need to optimize and defining what success looks like will be foundational to the ultimate success of your project. But if you are not already exploring or implementing AI solutions within your DC operations, you run the real risk of falling behind your competition.
To review any of our previous posts in the Fast Start Opportunities for AI series, visit our blog page, where we cover AI powered ways to optimize in dynamic slotting, workflow orchestration, workforce planning and performance management.
To get a more in depth understanding of AI and the benefits it can provide in your operation, check out our Achieve Your AI Potential white paper.
About Lucas Systems, Inc.
Lucas Systems helps companies transform their distribution center operations and continuously adapt to changing market dynamics. We dramatically increase worker productivity, operational agility, and customer satisfaction.
Our solutions are built on 23-plus years of deep process expertise and smart software using AI and voice technologies. Our solutions feature Jennifer™, the brain, voice, and orchestration engine that drives performance improvement gains. Make the smartest moves at the lowest cost with Jennifer™. For more information, visit www.lucasware.com.