Order fulfilment, or ‘picking,’ is one of the most critical processes in modern warehouses and distribution centres. With the technology advancing rapidly, several different types of picking system are now available, catering to different turnover rates and product types, but each one efficient, accurate and paperless.

Automatic picking is particularly effective in high-performance applications or situations when consistent quality and performance are required over long periods. The question for warehouse managers then becomes what to do with the staff. As hard-pressed warehouse operations deliberate over moving to automation, KNAPP’s technologies like KiSoft RF, KiSoft Voice Picking, KiSoft Pick-to-Light and Vision Manual Picking provide support in manual picking areas. KNAPP tops off its portfolio of picking systems with ergonomic goods-to-person work stations from the Pick-it-Easy series.

Workers reach their limits in busy times, but KNAPP’s Pick-it-Easy Robot guarantees high performance and quality over long periods.

KNAPP recently won the award for Best IT Innovation at the 2019 Material Handling Industry (MHI) Innovation Awards at the ProMat exhibition in Chicago. The prize was awarded for redPILOT, a cloud software solution for optimising warehouse logistics, developed by redPILOT GmbH, a start-up company in the KNAPP group. The redPILOT solution helps warehouse operators to use available resources such as systems, personnel, energy, space and materials to optimise performance when faced with constantly changing factors such as order structure, delivery dates and store optimisations. All the experience gained is used for machine learning, forming the basis for operations scheduling and online optimisation of bottlenecks. redPILOT has been integrated at logistics sites worldwide, including seven sites of the German supermarket chain EDEKA.

Amazon reportedly use over 150,000 goods-to-person robots to streamline their operations and have invested over $2.3 billion into this technology. They raise the bar for everyone else, but you don’t need to Amazon-sized to upgrade your order picking arrangements and embrace robotics and other emerging technologies. UK-based Wise Software have nearly 30 years’ experience providing their OrderWise business management solutions plus implementation and support services to a variety of sectors. On the order picking front their specialist features include OrderWise Warehouse Robots, which work autonomously in the dark without heat or light at pick rates to upwards of 650 picks per hour, allowing products to be prepicked during the night so orders are ready for staff before shifts start. Made, developed and tested in the UK, OrderWise’s Goods-to- Person robotics solution links seamlessly to existing ERP systems, or can be used in conjunction with their Business Management Software.

Automation is catching on but many warehouses continue to employ voice pickers and voice technology is still very much in use here and around the world. When international technology group Korber acquired Centriq Group, Voiteq’s parent company, in June 2018, the deal brought together two of the world’s largest voice solutions suppliers, Voitech and Korber’s subsidiary Vitech. Now operating under the Voiteq brand, both companies’ customers will still receive the same quality service, along with increased support, a broader solution portfolio and greater geographic coverage.

BILL REDMOND

Features Editor