Cluster picking (pick and Pack)
Cluster picking is another type of wave picking which enables a number of orders to be picked simultaneously, but differs to standard wave picking in a number of ways. With wave picking, although orders are grouped and processed together they are actually picked individually using a single pick instruction per order.
Cluster picking combines several orders for picking and is ‘location driven’ so that for each location visit, product is picked to satisfy multiple orders. The pick instructions are given in a location (walk) sequence which on completion means that all products for all orders have been picked. This sequence can be a system ‘default’ sequence or a user-defined one.
The process will normally be undertaken using equipment such as a trolley containing several shelves or spaces, or on which several boxes – one or more for each order – are placed. In this way the process is sometimes used to eliminate a separate packing stage as the picker is able to seal up the boxes as each order is completed – hence the term ‘pick and pack’.
How to Use Cluster Picking
Creating a cluster pick uses the same process as wave picking, above. There is no difference in the initial selection process by which orders are selected to add to a wave. However in this instance the ‘cluster pick’ box at the bottom of the form must be checked.
Once you have clicked ‘Add to Wave’ the cluster pick orders are processed for picking as they would be for standard wave picking, described on the ‘Wave Picking’ page. The display is therefore largely the same but except for two items.
The tabs shown at the top of the display are the same as the wave picking display except for the far right hand tab which has the words ‘Cluster List’ rather than ‘Movement’. Its function however, is just the same.
The other difference is the field at the centre of the screen called ‘Cluster Size’. This field lets you specify the size of each cluster you wish to create from the total number of orders you have added to the wave. If for example you had 16 orders on the wave you might wish to split this into two ‘clusters’. Each cluster will represent a picking ‘walk’ in which eight orders will be completed.
What might determine this in practice is the equipment (trolley, etc.) you are using to perform the pick. But it could also be a simple limit on the number of orders a picker can handle effectively without introducing error into the process.
Once you have entered a number into the field click the ‘Cluster Size’ button. This will then split the wave into the specified number of clusters. Where the number of orders on the wave does not divide exactly by the entered number a residual cluster will be created e.g. 16 orders with a cluster size of five will make three clusters of 5 orders and one of 1 order.
As with standard wave orders, a printed movement (picking) list can be generated for use in the picking and confirmation process. This differs to standard wave picking as a separate print instruction is generated for each cluster on the wave. As described above each instruction presents a ‘walk sequence’ of locations which when completed will fulfil several orders.
The picking confirmation can be done in the normal by using the ‘Cluster List’ tab under Wave orders, or via the main movements option where the movement list will be identified by the type ‘cluster picking’ on the movements summary screen.
The pick and confirmation processes can also be combined using hand held devices, depending on your system configuration.
If the wave needs to be cancelled at this point you can do this by cancelling the individual pick instructions on the movement list within the movements option. The order(s) can then be deleted from the wave, and the wave itself can be deleted if needed.
You may also want to cancel one or more orders where these form part of a small residual cluster, so they can be added to another wave later.
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.