Manual vs. Automated picking

As a business that fulfills and ships orders for customers, the picking process, are likely to consume more resources than any other area of the fulfillment operation. Every company has a picking process whether it is an organized or a routine based process. The question is; As you grow, will you be able to proceed using that process in order to meet the accuracy and delivery demands of the customers?

Why optimizing the picking process?

As demands continue to grow businesses are forced to optimize continuously. This entails scouting for new ways of optimizing and implementing new technologies. But why is it that important to optimize the picking processes? For a starter let us highlight the benefits of optimizing the picking process.

Reducing costs is the inevitable subject that all managers always will be looking at. Accuracy is connected to making customers happy, but it can also be very expensive to make picking mistakes, especially if the mistake is caught late in the order process or even caught by the customer itself.

Manual picking or single order picking is a common fulfillment method, but it is also extremely time-consuming, and many mistakes do happen.

Order picking is one of the most important processes for a company because fast and accurate order fulfillment gives a huge increase in customer satisfaction. Therefore, the order picking method is crucial for your company and especially it’s economic growth.

As your business continues to grow you will at some point be forced to evaluate and optimize continuously.

By optimizing your max throughput, you will be able to handle an increased amount of orders with the same number of employees in the same amount of time. The derived effect will quickly show an improved turnover.

Customer satisfaction is key. Increased demands for fast delivery time, high order mix and customization are becoming the new standard. These demands have to be met to keep customers satisfied.

Improving processes by moving orders out of the door faster, reducing the cost-per-pick will most likely improve your competitiveness.

Automated picking

Nowadays, businesses are continually experiencing advantage of using more full automation, especially in picking, where many see a lack of labor and where the highest labor costs are present.

Recent years, a lot of innovations have taken place in the warehouse and distribution industry. Automated picking through computerized forklifts or cranes allow for increased accuracy and less travel time around warehouses to look for items to pick. Order pickers consume about 60 percent of their time walking or moving items around.

Installing conveyor belts can increase picking speed or you can eliminate wasted steps and reduce errors by setting up a mobile workstation with a power pack that allows the picker to create labels and to follow a guided route displayed on a computer.

Another way of automating is using automated storage. The Effimat 4 enables the goods to man principle and eliminate walking distances. By rethinking your picking process and integrating the Effimat 4 you will be able to optimize your throughput, eliminate picking mistakes and creating a leaner flow in your material handlings process.

Read more about the Effimat 4 and the E/Classic to find the solution that fits your warehouse.

Advantages of automated picking


Minimize touches

One of the core principles in all materials handling processes is “minimize touches”. The less touches you have, the less time an employee will use on the order which lower the cost-per-pick and is contributary to increasing the max throughput.

Also, the pick process should allow enough verified accuracy that guarantee further quality control checking is not required. Techniques that pick straight into shipping containers instead of various boxes remove an extra touch at the packing area or in some cases, the entire packing process. By doing so, you will be able to reduce or even eliminate picking errors.


Creating zones

Order picking productivity gets better with “hit” density. Order picking is slower when the operator selects from one out of every hundred pick locations as compared to when the operator picks from one out of every ten pick locations.

It is advantageous to set up hot zones in your warehouse to group the SKUs that create the majority of picking activity. One method is creating 80/20 zones. Combining the 20 percent of your SKUs that make up 80 percent of your orders and create a warehouse within a warehouse can increase the entire efficiency.


Minimize travel time

Reducing travel time increases order picking productivity. Travel time can make up 60 percent or more of order picking hours. You can reduce worker movement around warehouses by grouping orders into sections. Other ways to reduce travel time can be letting order pickers pick from both sides of the aisle, which reduce the overall walking distance. It is important to stress that a physically tired employee is more likely to make picking mistakes.

Another way to minimize the travel time of you process is to implement a software for warehouse that will help you plan your picking process. The software automatically analyzes your process and help you minimize the time it takes to get items from shelf to packing station, by suggesting the optimal picking route.



Automated picking is a process of placing, picking and retrieving items and materials from their specified storage areas through the use of automated solutions that marry software with equipment in an integrated manner. By automating some of the picking processes you will eliminate the monotonous steps of the manual handling, and you will make employees able to work a lot faster than previous.

EFFIMAT is a scalable and progressive storage partner

A safe and long-term investment for all companies that handle orders with multiple units and smaller items