Warehouse management is changing. Customers expect speedy, accurate orders and warehouses are adapting to meet these growing customer expectations. Investing in automation is the most effective way to improve your customer experience via order fulfillment efficiency, accuracy, and scalability. In this blog, we will cover the basics and benefits of using a put wall to automate order fulfillment in your warehouse.
What is a put wall system?
A put wall system is a modern warehouse management solution that uses lights and digital displays to guide warehouse workers through picking and packing for order fulfillment.
For instance, the put wall system indicates the correct storage location and product quantity a worker must use to fulfill an order. A picker walks through the warehouse with numbered bins, selecting the identified items as indicated for each bin. These bins are then delivered to the put wall aisles, where they are used by an operator to sort and pack the orders. A put wall system can be comprised of a pick-to-light system, put-to-light system, or both. Here is a video showing exactly how a put wall works!
Let’s review the difference between these two systems and how they’re used in a warehouse.
A put-to-light system is part of the larger order fulfillment process in a warehouse. After pickers have walked the warehouse floor gathering inventory items as instructed and dropped off the bins of inventory at their designated aisles, it’s time to use the put-to-light system. At this stage, an operator uses the put-to-light system to sort the inventory units from the bins into the appropriate cubbies on the put wall. When the operator scans an inventory unit, the digital display on the corresponding cubby of the put wall lights up. This indicates the correct location for sorting the item. This process continues until all of the inventory items needed for an order are delivered to the correct cubby. Once a cubby contains the full order, the pick-to-light system comes into play.
A pick-to-light system is often the reverse side of the put wall as the put-to-light system. Accordingly, when an order has been completed on the put-to-light side, the light on the pick-to-light side is illuminated. This indicates that the order in the cubby is ready to be picked up by the operator and packed for shipping. This cycle continues until all of the completed orders in the cubbies are packed and ready to be shipped. These two systems work together to streamline order fulfillment by optimizing the picking, packing, and shipping processes. Using a put wall is highly beneficial for warehouse management, modernizing slow, tedious, and error-prone workflows.
Top Advantages of Using a Put Wall System
Traditionally, order picking requires workers to wander throughout the warehouse looking for individual inventory items, manually recording the products picked, and updating the inventory. The picker looks for every unit required for a single order at a time, repeating the process for each order until all orders are filled. This means the picker often makes redundant trips to the same warehouse aisles for different orders, manually updating the inventory record each time.
Instead, a put wall system optimizes the picking, sorting, and packing of inventory items. The picker walks the warehouse with a digital device that guides them to select inventory items from the aisles for several orders at a time and place them in the corresponding numbered bins. This process eliminates redundancies and is significantly faster than picking one order at a time. Likewise, using a put-to-light and pick-to-light system allows workers to quickly identify, sort, and pack multiple orders at a time. Not only does this improve speed and efficiency, but it also improves accuracy.
Since the put wall system guides pickers to the correct product location, communicates the exact items needed, and automatically updates the inventory, inventory errors are less likely to occur. Because the lights instruct pickers precisely what to pick, there’s little risk of them selecting an incorrect product or quantity because of poor labeling. In addition, the inventory record for a single unit is not updated multiple times in a row, reducing the chance that an incorrect number will be recorded. With improved accuracy, customers will always receive the correct items and quantities they ordered, leading to higher customer satisfaction.
Filling individual customer orders one at a time is simply not productive. When orders are filled faster and more accurately, the warehouse is more productive. Time is not wasted on walking the same aisles multiple times and updating the same inventory records, attempting to correct mistakes in orders, or understanding what caused inventory errors. Likewise, workers can focus on picking and packing more orders instead of redoing the same orders. Real-time inventory updates from the system also help warehouse managers identify inefficiencies in the order fulfillment process, giving them data to make better decisions for the warehouse.
Many industries including eCommerce, B2B wholesale, and retail distribution are faced with challenges related to seasonality, fluctuations in demand, and supply chain issues. All of these challenges require your warehouse to be flexible with your output and scale your operations accordingly. However, manual warehouse management isn’t very scalable without incurring dramatically higher labor and material costs.
With a put wall system, warehouses can reduce or expand operations as needed. This empowers companies to meet changing customer demand, grow operations, and service higher volumes of inventory without the same labor requirements. A put wall system requires less than half the labor required for traditional warehouse management, which helps to scale operations while reducing costs.
Using a put wall system enables warehouses to optimize worker efficiency, order accuracy, and warehouse productivity. Likewise, costs can be reduced across the board with fewer inventory errors, reduced order inaccuracies, and lower labor needs. Paying for fewer workers in your warehouse can significantly improve overall costs, especially when there’s higher productivity with this smaller workforce. Inaccurate orders can result in high rates of returns, which are expensive. Preventing the need for returns also helps companies save money.
With the increased inventory capabilities of the put wall systems, there is less space required for inventory storage, freeing up room on the warehouse floor. The put wall system is one of the lower price points for warehouse automation, allowing companies to reap the benefits of automation without sacrificing large parts of the warehouse budget.
Investing in a Put Wall System
SDI Element Logic provides custom put wall systems to expertly serve your warehouse needs. With years of industry experience modernizing warehouse systems, we have the knowledge and experience to help you optimize order fulfillment and satisfy your customers.