I was fortunate to work for one of the biggest distributors in Israel. Diplomat Distributors Ltd. has 2 warehouses over 10,000 sq/ft each. Throughout my time there, managing one of these warehouses, I saw the company invest in IT and other systems to increase efficiency of order picking and better inventory management.

Managing a warehouse this big, requires a solid ERP. Diplomat had implemented SAP ERP, about a year or so, before I came on board. Although it worked fine, it was still far from its full potential.

Electric Pallet Trucks were used for order picking and maintenance. their upgrade with an intelligent scaling system was one of the projects that I was a part of and is detailed here.

Wearable computers/barcode scanners were a forward thinking way to pick orders already. However, they were, in my time, replaced with automatic voice order picking. Click here to learn more about this project.

Complemented with the scale update for the pallet trucks, the order picking system’s efficiency was increased by over 45%. This meant that within the same shift, workers were able to pick up to 1,000 boxes of merchandise instead of the 650 they were used to.

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The ability to move quickly and safely in a warehouse, especially a large one, is a huge factor of time savings. The capability of doing it safely, is huge. Making sure that there are intelligent systems that increase safety and ensure only the right products are being picked is key to prevent waste, provide great customer service and maximize efficiency.

Utilizing a proximity sensor on the carts, you can limit the speed of nearby carts to increase safety. Using location sensors, you will know where are all of your staff, at any given time. The options are endless.

The debate of RF tag VS. the Pick-by-Voice is an old one, although the technology is fairly new. The display that is placed conveniently on the right or left arm and the barcode reader that is placed on your finger, is a quick and easy way of sending the pickers to the right place. But, it does not come without shortfalls such as, the ability to manually choose the next item and mistakenly confirm products picked.

the Pick-by-Voice, combined with scaling, works based on the warehouse product picking order. It has to be put in an order that makes sense, in terms like volume of crates, weight of crates, nature of product (temperature/humidity controlled environment), etc… Providing the order is good, the system will ensure the items are picked in the order by which it was designed and there are no ways for the user to skip or “cut corners”.