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Welcome back to Warehouse and Operations as a Career! Today I’d like to talk a bit about Order Selection, its came up a couple of times and being one of the positions that can help set our course on a career I’d like to broach the subject and at least look at what it is. Depending on what Industry you’re in it could be referred to as Picking, Order Filling, Selection, Piece Pick or Bulk Pick, I’ve even heard it referenced as Boxing before. My names Marty and I’ll be walking us through a brief introduction to the Selection Process today.
For our purposes an Order Selector is responsible for taking a product off a shelf, pallet or bin, making sure it is the correct product AND the correct quantity then placing it on a pallet, building a complete order of items for a customer. There is A LOT of information on the internet, many many Job Descriptions and like a hundred different ways and machines to perform the task. Today we’ll just try and relate to a broad overview as it relates to us here at WAOC and our experiences. Please leave us any comments as to your experiences in the comment section on our website, we’d all like to learn from each other here!
O.K., I’ve had several questions about “that seems to be where the money is”, referring to Selection, and yes it generally does pay well, it is usually one of the top paying positions at your warehouse and there’s a reason for that. Filling a Customers order carries with it a lot of responsibility, the product must be correct, the quantity must be correct and the product needs to be received undamaged. Generally productivity must be high as there’s only so much time to get the product to the customer. In the quick paced world we live in today an order cut off can be like at 5pm for the customer to know what he or she needs for the next day and his delivery truck may be dispatched at midnight. If we have 200 customers needing 100k different cases going on a hundred different trucks you can see the need for urgency here right lol.
I feel all Selection, wither it’s like parts for electronics or small parts for machines or lumber in lumber yards to the food service industry is an important task. Actually order selection or whatever you want to call it is considered the backbone of the warehouse operation in our Logistics world. I feel one has to rank it right up there with Transportation in the Operations arena.
Wither you’re working off of a pick sheet, which is just a piece of paper telling you what slot to go to and how many of what item to pull and gather for 1 customers order or 20 different customers or a RF scanning program directing you with a handheld unit or a unit you wear on your body or directed through a headset on your head every customer needs what they ordered and the correct count of each item and it needs to be undamaged while being stacked and gathered during the process.
There are as many types of selection as there are names for it.
Order selection – can mean pulling 1 customers order at a time
Batch Selection – can mean running down every aisle of the warehouse pulling many customers orders at the same time and organizing the separately on your pallets or buggies
Pallet Pulling – or pulling full pallet quantities at a time
And of course your industry or facility may have several other types of processing for its orders. Let’s go back to Jeff Character, remember our candidate from Episode 1 and look at the process he’d be working with. If you remember he was leaving the restaurant industry at the urging of some food service distribution contacts & we’ve heard from a few others here at WAOC from that industry so maybe that’s a good place to start.
Our tools for selection may very well be an Electric Rider Pallet jack, wither single, or 1 pallet or a double or triple jack meaning pulling 3 pallets at a time. Forklifts are another piece of equipment we could be using, either a sit down or counter balance lift or a stand up possibly even a reach lift. There’s several examples of this equipment on-line and you-tube and you should check them out if you have aspirations of the Selection Process. Now remember what we’ve learned about 29CFR1910.178, to NEVER operate any piece of Powered Industrial Equipment you have not been trained to do so with or certified to operate. Its against the rules, against the regulation and honestly its dangerous!
Typically, or at least what I see, is a facility will require a minimum of 1 year of equipment experience and a little history in a Productivity setting for those higher paying environments. And it really makes sense, with the cost of training being so high & productivity being a must to accomplish the job. As we’ve discussed before I really believe we can trim that year to just several months & get some of the Productivity training by Knowing some Keywords, mixing in a little Self-Educating research & learning how to get noticed in a positive way by our Managers through our discussions here at WAOC! The more we already know about GMP’s, SOP’s, Equipment usage & Safety the less time we need to learn about them right?
O.K., Order Selection – We’ll get our order information from a pick sheet, which is just a printed document of the orders that needs to be pulled or from a WMS or Warehouse Maintenance System which may involve a RF handheld unit for us to carry or a unit to wear like a wrist mounted piece with a laser controlled by our finger or a button or maybe a headset that will verbally tell us the information and we speak back to it to confirm the process.
Other tools will be pallets of course, either wood, plastic or bins that attach to our equipment. Shrink wrap will probably be used as well to secure our pallets for transportation.
I feel 3 of the most important things to remember and learn regarding the selection process are:
Number 1 – ACCURACY, we have to pull the correct item & the proper quantity.
A couple of things about quantity, you’ll learn about Case quantity, which is the full amount inside a case. But we may only need 1 piece out of the 6 in the case, this is usually referred to as a piece or a split. We have to pull the correct amount.
Number 2 is STACKING – Learning to stack well is a must! Our ability to stack correctly will make us or break us in this position. Our WMS will help keep our orders together as we travel through the warehouse selecting for maybe 20 customers, telling us which pallet and which Zone or area of the pallet to place each box. All the while we have to build a good travel base so our product or boxes don’t keep falling off our pallets or crush each other as we continue to select the products we need.
Number 3 is PRODUCTIVITY – Selection is a productivity driven task, you have trucks waiting to be loaded with the product you’re pulling, it’s got to leave the building to deliver to the customer. Many selection positions are paid through some type of activity based program or by the case even. It all boils down to the fact that you’re going to be expected to select at a certain level and others are waiting on the product.
Most Distribution warehouses separate their Receiving, product comes into the warehouse during the day & Shipping with the selection and loading being performed at night, hence selection has to be finished with the docks so the Receiving can begin & the deliveries can be made.
Sounds like a lot of work and a lot of Responsibilities doesn’t it? It is hard work and there are high expectations of us and that’s why it’s one of the jobs we’re aiming for, it’s one of our Goals and a needed step in our Career path!
Order Selection is a skilled position, a lot of time and money is spent on our training, the equipment we’ll be utilizing is expensive and it will be our responsibility to maintain it. It’s important that we really get something from our training, especially our Safety training and that we follow directions regarding our pre-trip reports and any sign out sheets for our selection units, there very expensive. Also one of the most important aspects of our new position is Attendance, we’re in the Productivity world now and our hours are needed to complete the task at hand, we’re in the big leagues so to speak lol. Sunday nights and Mondays, or the days coming off our weekend, it’s important a full crew is on-time and ready to work. Remember, we want to Be that Person that’s noticed, in a positive way, by our Managers, we want to Be the one offered that next step and promotion every time!
Well, that’s some of my thoughts on Selection in its simplest form and we’ll be visiting with a few Order Selectors in an upcoming episode, we’ll get the details from a hands on perspective. Please leave us some comments or questions on the website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll dig us up some answers and we’ll all learn from each other! Thanks for stopping in today and lets all have a Safe and Prosperous week, achieve those Personal Goals!