As we discussed in the last episode, many companies are increasingly turning to “Put Wall” systems to reduce order picking costs and increase throughput.
Put Walls are 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.
Why are put walls becoming so popular?
Put Walls – if supported with the right software – can deliver superior results in terms of cost and throughput versus common alternatives, such as use of pick carts alone. Pick carts often involve discrete picking, meaning items for each order are placed into shipping cartons or totes on the cart, though “cluster picking” techniques can be used to improve productivity. The pick cart is then generally moved by human or mobile robot to a packing station.
By using a Put Wall, order picking efficiencies are gained through use of batch picking, where picks are grouped so that all items needed for orders to be processed in a given wall module or modules are picked in one stop in the picking area. This is generally much more efficient than discrete order picking.
Those batch picks are delivered by cart or conveyor to associates for placement into the wall slots, so this becomes a form of “goods to picker” order processing, meaning that putters and packers have little travel distance associated with the work.
Put Walls have many other advantages. Those include modularity and scalability - it is possible to start small, with even with just one wall module, and add additional modules over time. One Omnichannel retail customer of Softeon’s did just that, piloting one module, then adding a more over time based on outstanding results achieved. They are now operating with almost 30 put wall modules.
But the real key to Put Wall success is software optimization - smarts from a Warehouse Execution System that determines which orders are best to be processed through the Put Walls, given limited capacity, simultaneously maximizing picking and “putting” efficiency - and critically – flowing multiple line items in an order so they arrive at the Put Wall at about the same time. This enables rapid turnover for each cubie hole to open it up for a new order.
You can learn more about Put Walls here. We’d love to discuss your put wall opportunities today.