The term Pick and Pack typically refers to a logistics service that involves breaking pallets of merchandise in cases and then fulfilling orders by shipping individual cases of the product to customers (or in 3PL your customer’s customers). Another variation of the pick and pack service can involve breaking cases so that individual items can be picked for outgoing orders.
Once an order is picked, the cases of goods and/or individual items are then assembled on a new pallet or loaded into cartons or other packaging to meet the customer’s requirements. Labels and packing lists are printed and affixed as specified by the customer and the orders are shipped. Depending on the size of the orders, shipping might be done through freight carriers for truckload or less than truckload shipments, or through parcel carriers or regional/local courier services. Containerized loads can also be shipped via rail or intermodal.
When merchandise arrives at a 3PL partner’s warehouse distribution center, it is received into inventory and put away. Palletized goods are stored in racks. The pick areas for goods are then stocked with cases or individual items stored on shelves or in bins. As they are needed, full pallets are taken from storage racks and brought to the pick areas where they are broken down and the pick areas are then restocked with cases of goods or with the individual items, so that pick teams can quickly and efficiently fill orders.
Once an order is picked, it is transferred to a packing station where the items that make up that order can be loaded onto a pallet or boxed in appropriate shipping cartons or other packaging. If a ship-confirm step is used for verification, the picked items are checked against the order for confirmation that the order was correctly filled. Pallets are shrink-wrapped. Boxes are sealed. Shipping labels and packing lists are affixed and the completed order is moved to the loading dock ready for shipment.
To ensure that a 3PL can provide efficient, cost-effective pick and pack service, logistics providers need a modern Warehouse Management System (WMS). The pick and pack process can be managed via computer-generated pick tickets providing instructions to the warehouse team, including items to be picked, staged and shipped, including any special handling instructions or other customer specific requirements. Higher levels of efficiency and accuracy can be attained by integrating the facility’s WMS with wireless networking and RF bar code scanning or through the use of voice-pick technology.
Other keys to operating a streamlined pick and pack operation include:
Physical Layout – Pick areas should be arranged so that the most popular, fastest selling products are positioned closest to the packing stations. SKUs that are frequently purchased together should also be located close to each other. Shelves and bins should be easily accessible for the pick team. Keeping the pick area neat and organized can help the pickers fill orders faster.
Standardized Packaging – Packing stations should be stocked with several predetermined sizes of shipping cartons to accommodate your products and most typical orders (based on size/weight). This simple step can significantly speed up the packing process.
Kitting – Additional efficiency gains can be achieved through pre-assembly of individual complementary products into a ready-to-ship package. This process not only saves time during the picking process, but it can also reduce the time and materials need to pack the order.
FW Warehousing is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with Midwest warehouse distribution centers in Kansas City, Indianapolis and St. Louis totaling more than four million square feet. Founded in 1949 with a focus on food-grade storage, FW later broadened its services to include contract warehousing, dry storage, hazardous material and chemical storage, temperature-controlled storage, product distribution and B2B and B2C fulfillment.
FW Warehousing has more than 50 years of experience in third-party 3PL logistics and has been ranked in the top 100 Third Party Logistic Companies in the country by Inbound Logistics magazine.
For more information about FW Warehousing and the full range of logistics services including pick and pack, visit the FW Warehousing website.