What Are the Two Different Strategies for Batching Orders?
There are two different methods or strategies for batching. The first (FIFO Batching) is typically done in a warehouse management system. The second method (Intelligent Batching) can be completed in an advanced warehouse execution system.
1) Traditional Batching (First In First Out)
Traditional pick paths will send a picker through a serpentine pick path to pick up all the items for each order.
This strategy is how a a typical warehouse management system will batch orders. The batching algorithms follow a first in, first out sequence (order 1 will be batched with order 2, etc.) without taking travel distance or other factors into account.
Traditional FIFO Batching
Although this method does reduce travel compared to traditional discrete picking (picking a single order at a time), there is a better way to batch orders.
In order to maximize our travel reductions in our batch picking strategy we need to take into account product locations, starting and ending points and the potential travel path.
2) AI-Based Intelligent Batch Picking
The second batching method utilizes AI-based algorithms to make more optimized batches of orders. We refer to this method as “intelligent batching”.
This batching method, performed in an advanced warehouse execution system, uses order, inventory, and location information from WMS and other systems and applies real-time optimization algorithms to create batch assignments. Unlike simple rule-based batching used in a WMS (such as FIFO or product and location overlap), This method considers order priority, pick location, travel cost, product attributes, and other factors to create optimal batches of work.
“Intelligent batching” evaluates millions of potential combinations to determine the “best batch” or grouping of work from among the available orders.
AI-Based Intelligent Batching
The math behind this is daunting. If 1000 orders are available for batching, and you are trying to create batches of four orders, there are more than 41 million possible combinations. The advanced system runs through the combinations in less than a second as users on the floor request work. DC’s using this method of batching have reduced travel up to 70%, more than doubled picking productivity, and cut labor hours in half. Watch the animation below to learn more.
Distributors Can Cut Travel in Half and Double Productivity With AI-Based Intelligent Batching
If you’re looking for ways to increase productivity in your warehouse or distribution center, consider using batch picking.
As we’ve discussed, batch picking allows warehouse employees to spend more time picking and less time walking. However, warehouse management systems don’t maximize the gains from batch picking.
If you’re interested in maximizing gains you can get from batch picking, consider utilizing advanced warehouse or work execution systems to batch more intelligently. Distributors using this method of batching have more than doubled picking productivity and cut labor hours in half without making any changes to their warehouse layout or adding expensive automation or robotics.
Learn more about our travel optimization module here or if you’d like to get a free travel simulation to see your potential travel savings, send us a message and we’ll be in touch.
Additional Ways to Improve Order Picking Productivity
In addition to improving productivity with batch picking, there are a variety of strategies distributors are using. we’ve compiled a variety of strategies from our warehouse experts and posted them here, “The Ultimate Guide to Improving Warehouse Order Picking Productivity.”