Bulk Picking

Bulk picking, sometimes also called ‘bulk pick and sort’ is a form of wave picking and like standard wave and cluster picking is another method by which orders can be grouped together to be picked in a certain way. Bulk picking combines a ‘bulk’ stage in which product for several orders is picked in bulk from locations, and a ‘sort’ stage in which the product is broken down into individual orders.

As with cluster picking, bulk picking is also location driven so that for each location visited the bulk commodity for several orders is picked.  This process continues until all the required product has been picked.

The sort stage allows orders to be assembled by two different methods, either ‘by order’ or ‘by media’, meaning the pallet, tote box or other media the bulk stock has been picked into.

Sorting by order means that each order is assembled in sequence, whereas sorting by media means that each media is emptied in sequence.  For that reason the assembly of orders may be out of sequence, as product is bulk picked by location for many orders. Sort by media can only be done if handling media references are used at the pick stage.

How to Use Bulk Picking

Creating a bulk pick uses the same process as wave picking described in detail on the ‘Wave Picking’ page. There is no difference in the initial selection process by which orders are selected to add to a wave.  However in this instance the ‘bulk pick’ box at the bottom of the form must be checked.

Once you have clicked ‘Add to Wave’ the bulk pick orders are processed for picking as they are for standard wave picking. The display is the same except for the tab to the far right which shows the words ‘Bulk Confirm’. This is used to confirm movements, as with standard wave and cluster picking. However, the difference here is that only the first i.e. ‘bulk’ pick stage of the process is confirmed.

As with standard wave orders, a printed movement (picking) list can be generated for use in the picking and confirmation process.  For bulk picking this is a single pick list which  presents a ‘walk sequence’ of locations.  When the walk sequence is completed all the bulk product for the orders will have been picked.

The printed pick list also has a column headed ‘Handling Media’. This is provided so that the media (bag, box, tote etc) into which bulk product is picked can be uniquely identified to facilitate the sort process. This may be one or many media. To use this feature, the ‘Bulk Pick HM’ setting must be activated on your system.

The picking confirmation can be done in the normal by using the ‘Bulk Confirm’ tab under Wave orders, or via the main movements option where the movement list will be identified by the type within ‘Cluster groups’ showing  a cluster reference and the type ‘Bulk’ on the movements summary screen.  Once selected the cluster is further identified by its status – either bulk stage or sort stage, according to which its progress.

Confirming the Bulk Pick Stage

To access the bulk pick, use Wave Orders>Wave number or Movements>Cluster group to select the wave, then select the line below (shows status of ‘pick stage’) to access the confirmation screen.

At the pick stage confirmation you are confirming that the bulk quantity needed for the orders in the wave has been picked. If any product has been picked short you can use the ‘Edit’ button and ‘recalculate’ function, which allows you to specify the actual quantity of product picked. You also need to enter a reason for making the quantity change.

Any short picks identified using this process will be highlighted on screen later at the sort stage confirmation.

There is no ‘cancel’ function available at this stage.  This is because cancellation of a pick at this stage would potentially affect more than one order. It must therefore be dealt with at the sort stage (see Discrepancies at Sort Confirmation Stage).

Depending on system configuration you may also have the facility to record the ‘handling media’ number used to identify the one or more handling media used for the bulk pick.  This will be the number(s) recorded on the pick sheet during the bulk pick process. This requires the ‘Bulk Pick HM’ setting to be activated on your system.

If you do enter a media number this will be indicated at the ’sort’ confirmation stage to assist with the sort process.

Confirming the Sort Stage

Once you have completed the ‘pick confirmation stage, you can commence the ‘sort’ confirmation stage. There are different ways to manage the process but most effective is to use a barcode scanner in conjunction with the onscreen instructions. This enables you to verify both the product (by scanning where possible) as well as the order despatch note it’s  assigned to.   

To access the sort stage confirmation, use Wave Orders>Wave number or Movements>Cluster group to select the wave, then select the line below (shows status of ‘sort stage’) to access the confirmation screen.  Where a pick shortfall exists a notice will appear to the right of the screen – ‘Pick shortage Adjustment Required’

At the bottom of the screen there are two buttons which allow you to print a pick list, and to print the delivery notes for all orders. Both documents can be used to assist with the sortation process.

Assembly by Order

The sort process can be carried out using two different methods. The first of these is ‘assembly by order’ in which each order is assembled in turn. This method does not require you to use a media handling number at the pick stage, but it may be advantageous to do so.

You can begin this by printing the delivery notes and attaching them to the despatch packaging (or other container used for assembly) so you can easily identify the orders to be assembled. If using a pick list, the format will list each order in turn with the quantities required for each product line.

NB. It is only possible to print the delivery notes if no discrepancies have been recorded at the bulk confirm stage. See ‘Discrepancies at Sort Confirmation Stage’ below.

The screen display lists each order in sequence, and each product that has been bulk picked for it.  Confirmation is completed by selecting the stock and placing it to the order, clicking each line to confirm this, until an order is complete. Once complete the next order can be commenced.

If using a scanner in conjunction with this exercise there are two options. Firstly to scan and verify that each product is correct by scanning its barcode label, if applicable. To do this the ‘scan product at pick’ function must be activated on your system.

You can also scan the barcode on the pre-printed despatch note to confirm the product has been added to the order. The scan automatically confirms the line on screen as completed. You can then continue to add product to each order until all the product has been assigned.

If you need to cancel an order during this process you can do so by using the ‘cancel’ button against a product line. The system warns you that this will cancel the entire order and asks you to confirm this is OK by clicking ‘yes’ at the prompt.

The system will then display the order lines that need to be cancelled as part of the confirmation, by displaying the words ‘put back’ against each relevant product line. The physical stock must be returned as records will now indicate that it is back in stock.

When all other orders have been confirmed the wave reference will be deleted.  Any cancelled orders will revert to their unprocessed order status.

Assembly by Handling Media.

This is the alternative to ‘assembly by order’ described above and is more suitable when multiple media are used for the bulk pick. This method requires you to assign a handling reference to whichever media you use in the bulk picking process. For that reason, both the ‘Bulk pick handling media’ and ‘Bulk Sort by HM’ settings must be activated on your system.

The system allows you to empty each media in turn and assemble multiple orders simultaneously.  For this reason the screen as below and the pick list where used display each media in sequence and list the products they contain in contrast to the screen and pick list used for assembly order.

The confirmation is completed by selecting the stock from the media and placing it to the relevant order, confirming each line until the media is empty. The next media can then be started and the process repeated. Emptying one or more media does not mean orders are completed, and it may be necessary to empty all media to ensure this. This will depend how many are used and what they contain.

As with ‘assembly by order’ and assuming there are no discrepancies you can also print out delivery notes and use barcode scanning in the process.

Discrepancies at Sort Confirmation Stage

If discrepancies i.e. short picks have been recorded at the bulk pick confirmation stage then these will be highlighted at the sort confirmation stage.

As not all orders can be fulfilled the system requests that one or more (depending on stock shortfall quantity) orders are cancelled. When an order(s) is selected the system asks you to confirm this is OK by clicking ‘Yes’ at the prompt.

The system will then display the order lines that need to be cancelled as part of the confirmation, by displaying the words ‘put back’ against each relevant product line. The physical stock must be returned as records will now indicate that it is back in stock.

When all other orders have been confirmed the wave reference will be deleted.  Any cancelled orders will revert to their unprocessed order status.

Once confirmed as picked, the orders can be processed using the despatch option as described above in ‘Despatch of Wave Orders’ and as defined by your system configuration.