Potential for optimizing the order picking process, the key to internal operational logistics

Mark KrakeBlog

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Order picking is at the heart of internal operational logistics. The aim of an order picking system is to promptly and accurately prepare a consignment for shipping. The quality of delivery to customers has a direct impact on customer satisfaction. Studies have shown that order picking alone can make up around 50% to 70% of the entire warehouse and distribution costs of a company. Not only in terms of costs and complexity but also in terms of competition and from the customer’s perspective is order picking the core process in warehousing.

Optimizing the order picking process with metasfresh

Optimization of the core process – order picking – is therefore a crucial element in warehouse logistics that simply cannot be disregarded by any ERP system. For this reason, our metasfresh ERP has mapped the order picking process in detail with the aim of reducing the time required for processing orders and, consequently, costs.

In metasfresh, the order picking process is carried out via the picking terminal. This terminal consists of a POS interface that can be operated by a touchscreen or mouse from a tablet or a conventional PC workstation. The preliminary data of the picking order is fed into metasfresh from the delivery planning system. Upon receiving an order, decisions are subsequently made on whether and when the relevant lines are released for picking, based on dispatch dates, priorities and stock. Once the system issues a release, the relevant data is automatically transferred to the picking unit for further processing.

The picking terminal is a POS interface that can be operated using a mobile data device, tablet or a conventional PC workstation. Sorting of the picking lines is initially based on the time required for picking so as to ensure that those orders that need to be shipped next are processed first.

In our metasfresh ERP software, we distinguish between three types of picking orders:

  • 1-step picking:

    The business partner is selected and all lines due for delivery to the business partner are listed and processed by the picker.

  • 2-step picking

    The product is selected and all lines due for delivery of this product are listed and processed by the picker.

  • Just-in-time picking

    Container-material combinations that have already been prepared are scanned and the corresponding customer orders are displayed. The picker selects a customer order and completes the process. In such cases, the container is already prepared during production or, in case of retail products, by the supplier.

The picked goods can be packaged and made ready for dispatch in disposable or reusable packaging. The relevant options are provided in the picking terminal. If a package is not sufficiently filled and additional order lines are expected for the customer, then the container, even if open, can also be assigned a picking location and be used for further picking orders. In addition, the operations involved in a carton flow system, which also contributes towards improving the picking process, are displayed.

For preparing the shipment, the space required for the consignments that are ready to be shipped can be distributed more economically, i.e. the consignments can be pooled for transportation and provided with the appropriate mode of carriage, for instance, reusable EUR pallets. At the end of the process, only a few clicks are required to conclude the shipment orders and generate and print out the delivery notes. A loading list is printed out for the shipper.

By virtue of the features for the optimization of the order picking process described above, the metasfresh ERP software reduces the costs involved in distributing and getting consignments ready for shipping by automatically making picking orders available on mobile devices, by implementing a sorting process based on the time required for picking and by mapping the shipping procedure.

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About the Author

Mark Krake


Co-founder & Managing Director of metas GmbH. Perpetual innovator and continuous community worker of metasfresh ERP. Free Software, Open Source and UX enthusiast.