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Picking is the act of putting together orders from partial quantities of an existing total quantity. These can be orders from customers or collections of parts for production. Picking comprises various time components – base time, travel time, picking time, distribution time and dead time. Together these yield the so-called picking time.
The picking itself can be performed in different ways. Either the picking is performed entirely by machine, for example by automatic machines or robots, or it is performed manually. There are different terms for the employees who perform the picking: picker, warehouse picker or order picker.
Manual picking itself can be performed in two ways: according to the 'man-to-goods' principle or according to the 'goods-to-man' principle. The picking method must be considered separately. The picker can either pick each order individually (single-order picking) or combine the various articles across orders (multi-order picking).
The principles just mentioned are detached from the methods behind them. The picking technology is not dependent on whether the goods come to the picker or the other way around. It is just as irrelevant whether the picker processes the orders individually or picks them across orders. The pick list is among the most classic picking methods. It involves a lot of effort, as each picking job has to be documented by hand. Thus there are a multitude of alternatives such as pick by scan, pick by light, pick by vision or pick by voice. These methods make picking much easier and offer immense added value, especially for companies with a large variety of products and high product volumes.