Successful Implementation of DC Order Picking Systems

CLEVELAND, OH, -- Kingway CAPS, the leader in major pick-to-light applications, has recently released Implementation Notes aimed at improving customer success during the implementation phase of a systems project. Focussed specifically on "Pick-to-Light" installations in major distribution centers, the Implementation Notes, formulated by Ralph Henderson, National Sales Manager, Kingway CAPS, are valuable as well for successful implementation of smaller systems in a variety of material handling environments.

Implementation Notes:

1. Establish a "champion" to take ownership of the project. Usually the best candidate is from Operations reporting to the DC Manager, is knowledgeable about the ins and outs of picking requirements, and has a vested interest in the system's success.

2. Clean up "circumventions" that have evolved in manual or paper-based systems before a new, electronic system is implemented. An electronic system imposes order on the process, precluding shortcuts and making a "bad" system worse.

3. Install proper carton flow rack and conveyors for a Pick-to-Light system. There should be well-defined, well-applied, well-installed material handling equipment before the lights go in.

4. The project "champion" needs to convince pick personnel that this is the right way to go and that the new system will help not hurt them. People on the line need to buy into a new Pick-to-Light system.

5. Establish training for: (A) The operations supervisor and personnel, (B) the administrator in the computer room responsible for interfacing between the information traveling from host computer to pick line and back, and (C) the preventive maintenance personnel.

6. Evaluate whether the system has full documentation and 24/7/365 support. World-class suppliers provide both.

7. Overlay a drawing of your material handling processes on your system transactions. The comparison, done at the planning or implementation phase, will illuminate gaps between where you first were with your picking system and where you want to be with Pick-to-Light.

8. Establish a team with a communication tree made up of Operations (the "champion"), Information Technology, a "decision maker," and the supplier project manager. Clear responsibility and easy communication is critical.

9. Know what system elements are being measured and the ROI parameters. Worker productivity, zone productivity, or other measurements should be able to provide answers to the question, "How do I know if I'm successful?"

10. Know how to measure, monitor, and track your accuracy. A picker, for example, should be monitored for "picking" only, not for other functions such as scanning. When applied correctly, Pick-to-light should provide 99% accuracy.

Kingway is an acknowledged leader in order selection systems and originated CAPS, the Computer Assisted Picking System. For further information, visit the website at http://www.king-way.com

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