How a Busy Distribution Center Continues to Reduce Picking Errors
When faced with increased demand, a shortage of labor, and unprecedented circumstances resulting from a pandemic, how does one of the world’s most powerful warehouses keep their customers happy by continuing to fulfill orders quickly and accurately?
An operations analyst at a New England food and retail distribution center saw first-hand the changes in her team’s productivity when her DC went from paper-based picking to Mountain Leverage’s voice-enabled picking technology.
“Voice has enabled us to limit having your hands full,” she says about the Hands-Free, Eyes-Free™ capability of voice-picking. “You can focus on exactly what you’re doing. It takes out the looking back and forth between paper and product. It takes the thinking part out of the process, too, because you’re being told what to do.”
By working with Mountain Leverage to continue to enhance their voice-enabled workflows, this ops analyst has seen an increase in productivity, accuracy, safety, and team morale. Here are three more steps she takes to keep picking mistakes in warehouses down and overall customer and employee satisfaction up.
1. Start with training
If you’re waiting for an employee to feel comfortable in the job to teach them how to pick better, you may be waiting too long. Your training and onboarding process is an opportunity to coach in the tactical skills and to begin a relationship of trust where employees feel comfortable asking management for help to reduce picking errors in warehouses.
“I use training to get to know them, ask them questions, partner new employees with other employees, both on the production team and in management, and foster a culture of accountability and teamwork,” she says.
By building trust and prioritizing open communication as early as a new hire’s first day, you set them up for success to carry out their job with determination, accuracy, and willingness to take the initiative to seek out help if their numbers are lower than expected. How can you evolve your training to become an investment in employee development?
2. Create incentives for personal development
It shouldn’t be a surprise, but overall productivity increases when you invest in boosting personal productivity. Mountain Leverage voice solutions provide you with powerful data that tells you exactly how many products an employee is picking at any given time so you can hone in on who needs more training and development.
“Voice helps us pinpoint who’s productive and who isn’t, and we’ve developed an incentive program around it,” she says. “Once we had the visibility to show employees how they were performing, it created a culture of people caring more about their production numbers and demonstrating ownership of what we do.”
In addition to the value of personal development, their DC awards bonus money to employees who show growth in their numbers -- and not just who’s picking the most or the fastest, but those who are focused and gaining accuracy. What incentives can your operation provide to encourage faster and more accurate picking?
3. Use the right technology
If you’re using the same paper picking process you’ve used forever just because it’s been the status quo, you may be holding your team back from making use of more efficient and accurate technology, such as voice-picking.
The operations analyst recently visited one of her company’s other facilities that uses RF scanning and pick-to-light systems. “I don’t like them as much,” she said. “With pick-to-light, product can easily get shifted away from the light, there’s no confirmation method, and you can accidentally lean against the lights. With RF, pickers scan the shelf tag, not the item, so if something isn’t in the right place, you can’t confirm whether it’s right. RF is also uncomfortable and it doesn’t fit everyone the same. Voice is definitely more accurate than pick-to-light and less cumbersome than RF picking.”
Voice technology uses multiple checkpoints to come as close to 100% accuracy as humanly possible without sacrificing time. Want to know more? Book a free discovery call with one of our experts today.