Five warehouse picking KPIs to boost productivity

Order picking in a warehouse requires speed and precision. If picking orders takes too long or is inaccurate, leading to delayed or incorrect order fulfilment, your customers won’t be satisfied and may never return. Moreover, due to its complexity, most warehouse operators identify order picking as one of the most labour-intensive and challenging processes. 

On the flip side, tightening up order picking processes can significantly influence overall warehouse performance by reducing errors, streamlining workflows, and boosting customer satisfaction. Your starting point should be identifying the right warehouse picking KPIs. After all, you can’t improve what you can’t measure! 

Here are the five order picking metrics we recommend tracking – and how they can be boosted by investing in an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) such as AutoStore.

1. Picking accuracy

Picking accuracy is a crucial metric that measures the precision with which customer orders are picked in the warehouse and reflects the effectiveness of current picking processes. Accurate order picking significantly influences various aspects of the business, such as fulfilment times, customer satisfaction, and reorder frequency. Minimising picking errors can foster stronger customer relationships and save time and resources associated with reverse logistics (also known as returns). 

Some tips for improving your order picking KPI include: 

  • Organise your warehouse in a clear and logical layout to make order retrieval as efficient as possible.
  • Use data-driven warehouse software, such as a warehouse management system (WMS) to enable real-time inventory tracking. That way, you’ll know what is and isn’t in stock.
  • Implement an ASRS and other automated order picking technologies to minimise potential human errors. 

An ASRS such as AutoStore utilises a grid-based storage system where products are stored in vertically stacked bins and are automatically retrieved by intelligent robots. The system ensures the correct product is picked from the designated location each and every time, leading to an improved order accuracy KPI.

2. Order pick rate

The order pick rate, also called picks-per-hour, helps you predict the number of customer orders that can be fulfilled within a specific timeframe. The figure is instrumental in enabling forecasts of total fulfilment times and providing accurate lead times to customers.  

Similarly, lines per hour (LPH) measures the number of individual product lines or SKUs picked within an hour. Lines are all the items that comprise a shipment received in your warehouse and could be the same product or various unrelated items. The order pick rate, like LPH, is a valuable tool for evaluating employee productivity, facilitating efficient labour allocation, identifying training needs, and improving overall workflow efficiency.  

AutoStore’s mobile robots can operate simultaneously within the grid, allowing for parallel order processing. This synchronised activity accelerates the order fulfilment process, enabling the system to handle multiple orders concurrently, significantly improving the order pick rate.  

3. Travel distance per pick

Another important warehouse picking KPI is travel distance per pick. An inefficient pick path can lead to wasted time and energy. Therefore, assessing the efficiency of picking routes is essential to streamline warehouse operations. The assessment involves calculating the distance pickers travel to fulfil orders, offering insights into minimising unnecessary travel and reducing wear and tear on equipment. To calculate the travel distance, divide the total travel distance by the total number of picks.  

Establishing efficient travel paths leads to cost savings and improves order fulfilment times. This is where AutoStore’s compact grid system has a superior advantage, as it eliminates the need for traditional aisles and passageways, ensuring the shortest travel distance. By this design, it manages to reduce the item-to-person travel time significantly.  

4. Inventory accuracy

Inventory accuracy is the percentage of accurately recorded inventory items in the warehouse compared to the actual physical inventory. When you manage your inventory accurately, you’ll have a much better understanding of how much product you will need to have on hand to meet customer demand. 

AutoStore can provide highly accurate and real-time inventory tracking, especially when integrated with a WMS. It uses sensors that automatically update the WMS whenever a product is being put into or retrieved from the bins. This allows instant access and real-time visibility of current inventory levels, minimising overstocking or under-stocking. It also eliminates human error, a common cause of inventory discrepancies.    

5. Warehouse space utilisation

Tracking warehouse space utilisation metrics and addressing space challenges can enhance productivity and reduce operational costs. Better space utilisation can also boost other order picking metrics, such as the order pick rate. This is because efficient storage layouts minimise travel distances, reducing idle time and enabling faster retrieval of items, ultimately enhancing overall order processing speed. 

However, these space challenges can be particularly pronounced in large, dynamic warehouses. Manual replenishment, suboptimal slotting, and limited visibility can result in underutilisation or congestion, reducing efficiency and increasing operational costs. This is where a solution like AutoStore can make a significant impact.  

AutoStore utilises robotics and innovative algorithms to optimise space utilisation. The system’s grid-based design adapts to various SKU sizes, so you can store more inventory in fewer square metres, reducing the need for larger warehouses. It continually optimises item placement by considering demand patterns, ensuring that frequently picked products are easily accessible and space is maximised.  

The modular and scalable nature of AutoStore systems offers the flexibility to adapt to evolving storage requirements without extensive structural modifications. It also reduces reliance on manual labour, saving costs and allowing employees to focus on higher-value tasks.  

Start tracking warehouse picking productivity metrics 

Need to improve warehouse picking KPIs and boost overall business performance? Get in touch with our AutoStore specialists to discuss warehouse automation solutions today.  

Written by Gavin Harrison, UK Sales Director, Element Logic

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