In the face of efulfillment and other pressures, companies are increasingly turning to “Put Wall” systems to reduce order picking costs and increase throughput.
What is a Put Wall? A Put Wall is a fulfillment system that uses a physical structure to create a series of “cubbie holes” or slots into which products for customers order are placed, or “put”, after picking, with each slot holding items for all or part of an individual customer order.
Each order of course will contain one or multiple items. When all the items for an order have been placed into a slot by associates, other operators on the back side of the wall place those items into shipping cartons, or another container type such as a polybag.
Within this basic construct, there are many options. For example, putting and packing operations are often driven by light systems that tell front-side associates what picked items in what quantities should go in each slot based on scanning a SKU bar code. Each put is then confirmed by pressing a button on the light display below each slot.
Similarly, when all the items for an order have been placed into a cubbie hole, a light on the back of the slot can indicate to associates that this order is ready for packing.
A key question is whether order picks will be delivered to put walls via manual carts, or if picked products will travel by conveyors to individual put wall modules, or both. The number of wall modules – that is, a block of cubbie holes, maybe 40-80 in total - also varies from implementation to implementation, based on a variety of factors.
While Put Walls are most commonly seen in piece picking operations, especially for ecommerce fulfillment. They can also support scenarios when an item is in effect the size of a case, which may require larger slots size than normal.
Put Walls – if supported with the right software to optimize execution – can deliver superior results in terms of cost and throughput versus common alternatives, such as use of pick carts alone, or even mobile robots.
We will discuss the advantages and operations of Put Walls in more detail in out next Softeon blog post, but you can learn more about Softeon’s Put Wall solution here.