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Brian C. Neuwirth Many companies still operate their businesses in the Stone Age, using paper-based processes. Not only are these processes slow and mistake prone, but they also commonly result in extra steps that can be eliminated through an automated process. In the warehouse environment or assembly operations, paper-based systems prove very inefficient in terms of the picking process. Actual stock levels on products are often hours to days behind what they should be, potentially leading to stock-outs or causing production to come to a halt. Paper-based picking systems use a printed pick list which is distributed to workers who travel to pick areas to pull the specified goods. The worker travels the warehouse looking for products in different locations until the entire list is picked. Throughput depends on how fast individual workers complete one order. In an assembly area, pick lists tell workers which part to use next in the assembly operation. Slow Adoption in Distribution From a Peerless Research Group survey, it is reported that “62 percent of DCs still use paper-based picking systems, nearly half of operations include RF-assisted/scan verification technologies. Parts-to-person, pick-to-light/scan verification and pick-to-voice (with and without scan verification) technologies are used in just 7-12 percent of operations in 2017, although those levels are a significant increase over the previous three years.” So why are 62 percent of distribution centers still using paper-based picking systems? Adoption rates for new technologies are low because many people are afraid of or slow to change. Perceptions about cost and complexity keep companies from switching to automated systems. In warehouses, certain processes are being automated, but order picking lags behind. Typically when a business starts out, orders are picked using paper processes because of the high level of investment required for automated processes. As businesses grow, the number […]
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