Batch picking (which is also referred to as cluster picking) is a warehouse order picking strategy in which workers pick multiple orders on each trip through a distribution center or zone within the DC. So, rather than making two discrete trips through a DC to pick two orders, a single picker can pick a batch of two orders on one trip, cutting travel in half.
What Are the Benefits of Batch Picking?
Batching allows for pickers to slash travel. If 10 orders are batched together, a picker will be able to pass through the pick zone once as opposed to 10 times, dramatically increasing productivity.
Higher productivity reduces costs, and has additional benefits for workers. In addition to reduced fatigue, batching can reduce crowding within a pick area, since you need fewer workers to pick the same volume of order.
Two Different Types of Batching
1) Traditional batching (FIFO) from warehouse management systems
Traditional pick paths will send a picker through a serpentine pick path to pick up all the items for each order. Batching with a warehouse management system will follow a FIFO sequence (order 1 will be batched with order 2, etc.) without taking travel distance or other factors into account.
Unfortunately, this method, with an attempt to reduce travel distance for pickers, isn’t as effective as one would hope. In order to effectively reduce travel, batching orders will need to take into account product locations, starting and ending points and the potential travel path.
FIFO Batching (WMS Directed)
Lucas DWO Batching
2) AI-Based Intelligent Batch Picking
Lucas intelligent batching uses advanced mathematical models and artificial intelligence (AI) to eliminate warehouse travel. Customers batching intelligently 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.
Intelligent batching weighs a number of factors in addition to travel and applies AI-based algorithms to determine which orders and items should be grouped together in a batch. Intelligent batching considers order priority, product locations and dimensions, start and end points, travel paths and user permissions. These order batching considerations can be customized and weighted differently in different operations.
Comparing Travel Patterns of Traditional Batching (FIFO) and AI-Based Intelligent Batching
Below is a short animation to show the different travel patterns when batching in a FIFO sequence and AI-based intelligent batching.