How can wave picking help you efficiently manage a warehouse?

By Oleg Mikhailenko
Published in Solutions
May 18, 2022
2 min read
How can wave picking help you efficiently manage a warehouse?

You’ve started your business. You’ve arranged yourself some fulfillment and warehousing. But you’re curious. You want to look a little bit further into what goes on after a customer asks for an item. You want to learn to make your business even better. Good! Knowledge is power, and learning something new almost never goes to waste. It could be the case that during your research, you’ve come across the terms wave management or wave planning. If you’re looking for a wave scheduling definition that’s clear, concise, and to the point, read on.

Wave picking in warehouse settings is defined as follows: it’s the picking of multiple orders at once, as opposed to just one, going back to the printer or infoscreen, and then going to get another one. It’s quite simple! Actually, if you’ve even fulfilled from your own inventory stocks at home and picked products for even two packages at once, you’ve engaged in the wave process yourself. A would-be wave picker doesn’t need to have a dedicated wave warehouse machine or some sort of special wave cart. Just the patience needed to pick up a couple of groups of items at once, whether it be only two or as many as two hundred, and gather the products for each and every one at the exact same time.

Your commitment to smart warehouse scheduling and efficiency notwithstanding, though, doesn’t mean your wave inventory will be totally free of picking problems. First of all, far more space is required, as it’s helpful to have an in-between area for “staging” so you’re able to arrange your picked items into their individual orders before packing them up. This problem only gets bigger as you grab more items at once. If you have over 100 orders going at once, the intrepid wave order picker might have trouble remembering which things went with which box, losing valuable minutes consulting the sheet over and over again. And if every request is very different, you may barely save any time at all.

If you have a shop which sells only a few products, however, or if you group packages by types of items required, it’s often an incredibly efficient way of managing your warehouse. A similar strategy is actually used in the loading and unloading of freight jets. If each parcel were taken off the plane one after another, nothing would ever get done quickly. Instead, they’re organized by destination, so they’re easily taken off the jet and loaded onto the next mode of transportation on their way to their destination.

What’s more, it’s a warehouse management system which can be built upon by other tactics to improve speeds even further. The more employees you have, the more specific batches you’re able to request for them to be responsible for, meaning that they don’t have to run all over the building. Instead they can stay in their area, bringing certain quantities of merchandise to the staging area as needed.

In conclusion, wave picking is a form of warehouse management which greatly cuts down on the amount of time it takes to pack each box- provided you’re smart about the way your packages are organized into groups! Luckily, any warehouse company worth their salt will have a data-informed method that will ensure that the right products are delivered to the right customer- the first time.


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Oleg Mikhailenko

Co-Founder, CEO P2Pseller

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