How to Reduce Mispicks & Improve Accuracy

Pick-to-Light -blog-2-image-1In part 1 of this post, we talked about what even just a 1% mispick rate is really costing you (a possible $1,560,000 per year in lost revenue). Here we will provide some helpful information, technology, and strategies you can use to eliminate human error and reduce the number of mispicks in your picking process as much as possible.

Previously, we mentioned the use of light-directed solutions and automated storage and retrieval systems to boost picking accuracy. The automated systems equipped with pick-to-light technology negate human error by helping operators with four basic functions:

  1. Picking a specific or active item.
  2. Putting the item in an active order or specific location.
  3. Communicating the quantity or description of the item.
  4. Completing the pick and moving to the next one.

Pick-to-light technology has evolved into complete message centers that can communicate multiple variables to the operator: the precise location within the carrier of the item to be picked, where it can then pinpoint the exact location and direct picking or storage of the item, and indicate the required quantity of the item being picked. Less picking mistakes mean happier customers.

Types of Picking Technologies

This technology can help boost your picking accuracy up to 99.9%. The following includes the types of light-directed technologies that can be added to automated storage and retrieval systems:

Transaction Information Centers are for vertical carousels and vertical lift modules (VLMs). This is a dynamic pick-to-light system that displays item identification in 1/10 inch increments, descriptions, quantities, and other messages to help an operator pick the correct item and amount for order fulfillment.

Light pointers are used with VLMs and deploy an LED or laser light that is mounted on a slider. The sliders move horizontally on a guiding system within the opening of the VLM. The light pointer, which is software-driven, swivels to project a light beam into point to the position of the item to be picked within the storage tray. The light identifies the precise location of the item to be picked or restocked.

picking lightsPosition indicator light bars are incorporated into the access openings of VLMs and vertical carousels. The LED lights illuminate in alignment with the position of the required item within the storage tray to be picked.

Light towers can be integrated with horizontal carousels to house picking display models on extruded upright towers. The displays indicate to the operator the carousel, shelf level, tray location, and quantity to pick. A single software-driven light tower can serve two horizontal carousels within a picking pod.

Put/batch lights can be used with both horizontal and vertical carousels as well as VLMs to direct an operator to put or store items in a specific location when restocking items. They can also be used for order consolidation, batch picking, and batch sorting at workstations.

In addition, AS/RS systems can also be incorporated with radio-frequency (RF) scanners for quick barcode verification of picked items, voice-directed picking modules that verbally direct operators to the pick in a head-set, or scales that automatically verify the correct number of small parts based on their weight.

Increasing picking accuracy by just one percent can lead to dramatic improvements in your operations. Not only will it result less picking mistakes, but it will also lead to exceptional cost savings per year and even per day, and increase customer satisfaction. For a production line at 250 lines per hour averaging 3 SKUs per order during an eight hour shift, a 0.1% mispick rate from a 1% rate reduces revenue lost per year from $1,560,000 to $1,404,000—a 90% yield in cost savings. For even greater accuracy, inventory management software with AS/RS systems is an efficient and easy way to keep track of your inventory and monitor stock levels in real time.

Contact Us for More Information About Reducing Mispicks

Convinced that you need to start reducing your mispick rate? Southwest Solutions Group can help. Our dedicated and experienced team can help you get the technology and techniques you need so your company can save money, enhance productivity, and increase your valued customers’ satisfaction. To prove our dedication to you, we will even provide you with a free consultation. To learn more, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.


The True Costs of a Mispick

mispicks-happen-blog-1-image-1When you mispick a product, how much are you really paying? Do you know how many mispicks happen every day in your warehousing facility? Even with just a %1 mispick rate, you could be losing thousands of dollars per year.

What is a mispick?

First, we should start with identifying what exactly a mispick is. Picking in general involves much more than just grabbing an item and placing it with an order; it means the operator receives a paper list of instructions about what to pick, who then has to travel to the correct storage location, locate the item in question, pick the correct number of items as indicated by the paper list, confirm the pick, then deliver the item for packaging. As you can see, there’s a lot of room here for human error compounded by possible fatigue that the operator may struggle with from walking so much during the day and inadequate lighting that is common in warehousing facilities. A mispick means that the wrong item is picked instead of the correct one, the wrong quantity is picked, an item is omitted, or the condition of the item itself is damaged or mislabeled. And while mistakes do happen, the true cost of mispicks could have a huge impact on your bottom line if measures aren’t taken to reduce them.

How much mispicks are costing you

lost-money-blog-1-image-2So what, really, is the true cost of a mispick? A survey in 2012 of 250 supply chain and distribution managers found that distribution centers lost an average of nearly $390,000 per year due to mispicks. This doesn’t include the cost of shipping the item back, processing it, returning it to stock, losing customer satisfaction, plus picking, packing, and shipping the correct item back to the customer. Can your company afford that?

It’s estimated that 35% of facilities experience mispick rates of 1% or more. This may seem negligible, but it adds up quickly. For example, a facility that picks 250 lines per hour and three SKUs per order for one eight-hour shift picks 6,000 items per day. If one percent of their picks are incorrect, then that means there are 60 mispicks. The cost of each mispick can easily add up to $100 or more, which means that 60 mispicks could translate into $6,000 in revenue lost per day and $1,560,000 per year.

Reducing your mispick rates

So how can you reduce mispicks? Automated goods-to-person storage and retrieval (ASRS) systems such as horizontal carousels, vertical carousels, and vertical lift modules (VLMs) could be the solution for you. These machines deliver items directly to the operator, eliminating walk and search times. They can also be equipped with pick-to-light systems that negate human error. Part 2 of this blog will cover the different types of light-directed picking technology and how they can help increase accuracy and throughput.


How Storage Affects Commercial Green Building Design & Construction

commercial green building design and constructionAt its core, green building design and construction is about reducing environmental impact and increasing sustainability. Usually the focus is on the big things: building materials, amounts of daylight, air quality, water efficiency, etc. However, there’s one major feature of a commercial building you might not have given much thought to, but it will greatly affect sustainability – storage.

You might be wondering how storage – something that’s usually an afterthought – can make such a big difference in designing and constructing green commercial buildings. Well that’s what we are here to tell you…and surprisingly it all starts with houses.

What Do Trends in House Sizes Have to Do with Commercial Buildings?

According to the National Association of Home Builders, in 1950 the average single family home was around 1,000 sq. ft. The current Census Bureau for 2013 has the average single family home sitting at about 2,600 sq. ft.

Why do we need so much more space? It’s not because we are having more children; in fact, we’re having less. What’s changed over the years is consumer spending.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publication 100 Years of U.S. Consumer Spending (a very long, but extremely interesting read) shows how over the years our spending habits have changed from strict necessities to other items. And at the very end the authors make this statement in their discussion:

In the 21st century, households throughout the country have purchased computers, televisions, iPods, DVD players, vacation homes, boats, planes, and recreational vehicles. They have sent their children to summer camps; contributed to retirement and pension funds; attended theatrical and musical performances and sporting events; joined health, country, and yacht clubs; and taken domestic and foreign vacation excursions.

So again…why do we need so much more space in our houses? Because we have so much more stuff to store!

Examples of Changes in the Workplace that Have Affected Storage

But of course you’re wondering, how does this relate to commercial buildings? Well, businesses have mirrored the same trends: changes in the workplace and how we work have affected the amount of items that need to be stored.

Here are some examples:

Since the advent of the copy machine and the printer, corporate offices are required to store all kinds of records and documents that didn’t exist before.

Police departments store property and evidence for years. And with new developments in forensic technology, there’s more evidence than ever.

Hospitals are able to diagnose and treat illnesses better than ever, but that requires more tissue and blood samples in addition to the ever growing medical supplies that need to be kept on hand.

Distribution facilities are bigger than ever with the rise of e-commerce and internet shopping. Keeping a massive amount of items stocked for quick shipping is not optional in today’s fast paced environment.

The Storage System that Will Keep Your Building Greenthree principles of sustainability for storage systems and building design

With all this stuff to store, it’s tempting to do the same thing to commercial buildings that we’ve done to houses – increase the size. But that goes against the very definition of green building design and construction mentioned earlier: reducing environmental impact and increasing sustainability. So how can you store all of this stuff while trying to remain green and not increase the size of the building?

The answer is simple. You do it with the right storage system. And one of the best is a Kardex automated storage and retrieval system. These systems focus on three principles of sustainability known as the triple bottom line: planet, people and profitability.

Planet/Environmental Stewardship

A big part of environmental stewardship means protecting the air, water and land while conserving resources, including fossil fuels. One way to accomplish this task is to construct smaller buildings, which you can do with the help of a Kardex automated storage and retrieval system.

Using a Kardex system, you can save up to 85% of the storage space that you would typically use with file cabinets, drawer systems, static shelving, or pallet racking. And overall, you can reduce the total building construction footprint by up to 15%.

People/Social Responsibility

Improving the quality of life and equity for individuals, communities and society as a whole sounds like a lot to ask from a storage system, but that’s exactly what the Kardex automated storage and retrieval systems do. And it starts with the “goods to person principle”.

The goods to person principle means that items (goods) are delivered to the operator (person) rather than the operator retrieving the items. What is unique to the Kardex systems is that the counter where the items are delivered can be adjusted. This means each employee can work in an ergonomically correct or ADA accessible position and still have 100% access to any stored item.

Profit/Economic Prosperity

For any organization remaining prosperous is vitally important. Reducing costs, adding value and creating economic opportunity ensures people stay in business. But can a storage system really help? The answer is yes.

With a Kardex system, operator productivity increases up to 66%. Optimizing the amount of labor required to perform certain tasks helps to reduce the building’s energy consumption and carbon footprint.

A Kardex System for Every Application to Keep Buildings Sustainable

learn more about kardex automated storage and retrieval systems

There are many different types of Kardex automated storage and retrieval systems including horizontal carousels, vertical carousels, and vertical lift modules. Depending on what’s being stored, adding one of these systems to your building will help to reduce your environmental impact and increase sustainability. And that’s what green building design and construction is all about.



Our Annual 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Has Arrived

Happy holidays everyone! It’s time for our Annual 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!SSG 12 Days of Christmas

Every year we give gifts to select email subscribers as a way to say thanks for showing an interest in what we do. This year we have some excellent gifts to give away including a Best Buy gift card, an iTunes gift card, an Amazon gift card, and much more.

If you’re already a subscriber, then you are automatically entered to win. And if you aren’t, then it’s time for you to sign up. Just click here to learn more about the prizes and sign up today.

So what can you expect from our emails? We will tell you about various solutions that will help to optimize your business for space, productivity and efficiency. And because you select which market you’re in (ex. museum, public safety, architects), you only get the news that’s relevant to you.

Here are some of our past emails so you can get an idea of our solutions:

The sooner you sign up, the better your chances are of winning one of these great prizes!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!


The Importance of Flexibility for Modern Library Buildings

library-furniture-productsWith the technological advances allowing people to have a wealth of information without leaving their home, it has been questioned whether libraries will become obsolete. This dismal prophecy has obviously failed to come true; libraries still exist all around the world, and university students still depend on them for information and study spaces. Now, libraries house both printed and digital information as the “hybrid library” is becoming more and more common.  While this has made libraries more accessible and convenient, it has also increased the need for libraries to be more flexible—including with their furniture.

The Changing Library Environment

Today, libraries are experiencing the development of a new service concept as a place of learning and study. They are also a place of both collaborative and self-study. Learning centers should be able to cater to different learner styles while providing continued network access to the library’s database. For example, the most effectively flexible libraries include:

  • Designated group study areas with ICT capabilities
  • Varied zones for study accommodation and social spaces
  • Training facilities and help desks
  • Computer workstations and wireless LAN laptop dock-in facilities
  • As few permanent internal walls as possible
  • Systematic zoning and re-configuration of areas as requirements change
  • Maximization of available space

The ability to do all of this at once may seem like an arduous task, but many libraries are able to accommodate all of these needs and more just by installing the right furniture.

The Modular Construction Principlelibrary-furniture-houston-beaumont-port-arthur-huntsville-galveston-alvin-baytown-lufkin-pasadena

Hybrid libraries are able to meet all the needs of library users because their modular and flexible furniture 1) easily meets a wide variety of their needs and 2) allows them to re-configure their space at the drop of a hat.

Library furniture includes study tables and carrels, computer tables, collaborative desks, circulation desks, chairs, shelving, lounges, and more. It’s easy for these types of furniture units to be customized to your exact specifications; however, “customized” doesn’t always mean “more expensive” if you choose the right furniture.  Since the 21st century library is a place of constant change, the key to the most effective, useful furniture is reusability, flexibility, portability, and adaptability in every piece. The most important factor in finding a company to design your furniture is creativity and insight along with skilled craftsmanship and an inclusion of the end-user throughout the process.

Where Can You Get Modular Library Furniture?

Do you need modular, flexible, and adaptable library furniture? Whether you need tables, desks, chairs, or shelves, Southwest Solutions Group® can help. We can provide you everything you need to know so you can order your customized library solutions without the customized price tag. You can choose and combine anything from the laminate, finish, coat, edge bands, wood type, shape, and even more exactly how you want it. To prove our commitment to you, we will even offer a free consultation to determine your exact space and budgeting needs before we begin our design process, which you will be included in for every step of the way. Give us a call at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today to learn more.

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