"Goods-to-person" can be defined as the act of conveying product from a storage location directly to a picker, who doesn't need to drive around and locate the next pick location. "What you're looking at are different ways to bring those goods to the operators," explains Dickinson. Carousels, shuttles, mini-load systems and automated guided vehicles can all be deployed in a system that is tailored to the customer's specific needs.
The technology "allows the operator to stay focused on the act of picking itself," says Dickinson. There's no need for lift trucks or battery recharging. There are also ergonomic benefits for the worker, who can minimize the need for bending over and straining to reach assigned locations.
Facilities especially well-suited for the concept include spare-parts warehouses, which tend to house many different types of inventory of variable weights and sizes. "You want the most ergonomic way to pick product," Dickinson says, "to make it easiest and most effective for the operator."
Voice and pick-to-light technology are also valuable additions to many distribution operations today. The latter system tells the operator the precise number of items to pick from a donor tote and disperse into order totes. The individual might be fulfilling 20 orders at a time, with maximum efficiency.
Economic benefits depend on the individual operation, but can generate in excess of a 30-percent savings in labor, by keeping operators focused on their jobs, Dickinson says. There are also energy savings associated with reduced forklift truck use.
"It's the wave of the future," he says. "It allows companies to realize headcount savings and initial ROI [return on investment]. Goods-to-person is here to stay."
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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, inventory control, logistics management, warehouse management, inventory management systems, warehouse management systems, WMS
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