The agility aspect of distribution has become more and more important as the retailers strive their way through the highly volatile, multi-modal supply chain environment throughout the business industry. Throughout the years, customers have become more and more demanding.
They expect high-quality products with the utmost freshness, availability, and superficial quality. At the same instant, retailers are finding newer ways in which they can both satisfy customers’ requirements and at the same point reduce the overhead distribution costs.
With the high increase in the usage of modernized techniques and central and regional distribution hubs along with consolidation centres and improved capabilities of the suppliers, a new door is opening up that is the pick by line process. it is a modern technique that has been approved by many businesses as a new regime for success and rapid business operations.
What do you mean by pick-by line?
It came into the grocery industry in 1980 in the UK and then its industrial application extended to different industry verticals and markets. It can also be referred to as case cross-dock or cross-distribution among many other terminologies.
True cross-dock is a term that is used to define the method that is used during the product handling process by the supplier while supplying products to individual stores. Upon delivery of the particular products in the warehouse, the term used is “cross the dock” which means to join the specific products in the warehouse or to any other cross-dock location.
The pick-by-line is a variation of the true cross-dock that includes a specific step of breaking down the received pallets, and distributing the required cases for customer delivery regimes laid out in grid formats in the warehouse floors.
Most of the time suppliers have a minimum requirement for the orders at a specific order or product level. Sometimes few stockless operations carry a few over residual stocks that are to be selected first using the standard FIFO methods and rules.
The uses for the Pick-by-line methods
It was first used with short-life products. The general physical attributes of sub-sets of such products are that it does not contribute to automation by themselves with these products.
The lesser the handling aspects the better. The time aspect while delivering the produce to the stores is very crucial. As soon as the product can be presented on the shop floors, the fresher it will be when the products are presented to the customers. Customers will be attracted to the product more.
However, any delay in these processes can lead to product damage or the product might not look fresh which will, in turn, drive away customers.
The process of pick-by-line has proved to be preferable for goods like seasonal goods and promotional goods. The traditional pick by line process is very beneficial for such products as it makes the product more attractive for the customers.
The time aspect contributes to the freshness and attractiveness of the products. The reserve and the pick locations are mostly at a premium in most of the warehouses. This makes it difficult in handling seasonal or promotional goods and also for finding extra capacities for storage racks.
In addition to that, this kind of product moves rapidly from the distribution centres to the end customers as these products are widely ordered throughout the nation. Thus, the pick-by-line method can be very helpful while delivering these products as it will save some significant travel time. It will eliminate the process of travelling through the warehouse to visit relevant pick-up locations.
Pick-by-line can also be beneficial while distributing high-value products. It is better to have a central stock-holding hub rather than tying up finances to different regional distribution hubs. If you have a central hub, then sending products in bulk to different regional warehouses will be easier and it can also be picked along with other cross-dock products for forwarding delivery to customers. The safety stock levels are reduced considerably while using this approach.
The pick-by-line approach can help in saving significant costs or amount of warehouse goods. The need for equipment, racking, and labour that is required for storing, letting down, and putting away products is significantly reduced or removed.
Nevertheless, the entire operation is itself very labour-intensive as a large number of products pick needs to be completed within a very short time. For alleviating the impact of troughs and peaks of seasonal or promotional product-related activities in a stocked surrounding, a delayed shipment functionality is applied.
This functionality within the warehouse management system means that the product can be picked up into customer containers before the exact delivery date. These selected containers must be stored in a specific place before they are let down for joining other customer deliveries.
You need to have flexible operative surrounding in the warehouse management system so that the pick-by-line functionalities can run smoothly and effectively. Many times promotional and seasonal products are dispatched to the customers through certain predetermined sets of central distribution or allocation orders.
Then these goods are again re-ordered as per the store’s requirements. A promotional set of goods must be aligned with the pick-by-line method combined with delayed shipments for chosen customers only. After the pick-by-line processing and initial receipt, the residual stocks should be arranged for putting away and the products that are stored in the main warehouse body for hot and ongoing orders by the consumers.
Similarly, the warehouse can face sudden high demands for a certain product by aligning it to a pick-by-line section where the products or goods will be picked up by the other remaining pick-by-line process of the warehouse.
Benefits of Pick By Line Process
If the pick-by-line method is used properly by applying suitable strategical analysis, then it can offer several benefits. Let us discuss some of the benefits of the pick-by-line method:
- Reduces the excessive need for warehouse racking which in turn saves a lot of amounts and provides for cost-saving and quick start-up time. The approach is very versatile in the picking process that helps in the rapid picking process of the products. This also contributes to the lower stocking of goods in the warehouse that takes a large rack area.
- Helps in reducing the excessive need for using drivers and forklift trucks. As there is a centralized hub, you don’t need to travel every time for specific product picks. You can do it at a single time while visiting the central hub for pick-up;
- Helps in saving excessive manual labour on counting, putting away, and travel times. It is a revolutionary process that has complete automation for every section and segment. This reduces the manual labour of certain activities mentioned above and this also contributes to less error and default that we caused during the manual activities.
- Ease up finances that are tied up in different distribution centres and stockholders other than considerations. By using a centralized for picking the products, you don’t need to bother in financing in different distribution centres.
A pick-by-line method is a dynamic approach that helps businesses to serve their customers better and to react to their needs quicker. Above that, after maintaining all these aspects it also contributes to the overhead cost savings. As the retailers are grappling due to the increasing demands of products, using a technologically advanced method for their business is very compelling and useful.