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Order Picking-Six Sigma

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  • #27030

    Lisa Ellis
    Participant

    Has anyone used Six Sigma to improve order picking accuracy in a distribution center? How successful was the effort?

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    #65732

    Darron L.
    Participant

    Lisa,

    In the parts department of my plant, we measure the # of orders/labor-hr as an output measurement. We mapped out the process that involves picking orders, while looking for factors that trigger unnecessary labor-hrs. We identified things such as counting back unused parts from production, sub-optimal storage locations, and inaccurate inventory counts. We put action plans in place to change these factors and are seeing good results.

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    #67071

    Bruce E Woloski
    Participant

    Lisa
    I realize your message dates back to January but I just came accross it today. I am a Black Belt currently assigned to improve picking accuracy at a 350,000 square foot distribution facility. I am not sure how you made out. If you get this please reply before I go into more detail.
    Bruce

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    #67101

    Eric Bronson
    Participant

    We at Siemens Power Generation are involved in several Black Belt Projects dealing with the receipt, storage, picking, kitting and shipping of service parts. It is no surprise, but we have discovered that all of the steps in these processes are very tightly linked.
    When we investigated picking errors and time to pick parts we discovered that the condition of the inventory was a key cause of picking erros and increased times to perform tasks.
    If the condition of the inventory is poor, tasks depending upon the inventory will be inherently poor.
    If you would like to discuss specifics please do not hesitate to email me at [email protected].
    Best Regards,
    Eric

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    #67252

    Tim Fowler
    Member

    Eric,

    Could you elaborate on what you mean by the condition of the inventory? I am working on a project to improve pick accuracy (right quantity and part) and would like understand what inventory conditions could adversly affect this process.

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    #67684

    Jim Mentone
    Participant

    Lisa:
    I have just received your message, and I don’t know how far along you are with your project but would like to share some of our finding here at Johnson & Johnson. Additionally, I would like to understand what is being uncovered out in the field with your and other companies. I am finding a difficult time benchmarking and I would like to share knowledge, (non proprietary of course).
    We here at J&J have instituted a tool to identify root cause for picker error, additionally, auditing error. We have a very complex, manual order assembly process (executed through a 3rd part distribution partner) and have recently launched a BB project to identify all the causes for Over & Shortages experienced by our customers.
    Key contributors are, Inventory Management (Bay Accuracy), Picker Accuracy, Loading Accuracy, Transportation (LTL/Pool), Customer Receiving, and Data Integrity.
    Let’s discuss.

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    #69218

    Bruce Woloski
    Participant

    I am a Black Belt currently working a project to improve picker accuracy. I am located in Holliston,Ma and would love to be able to bench mark with a site within a 50 mile radius. I am also finding that some of our customers receiving processes can lead to claims of picking inaccuracies. If interested please contact me.

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    #70585

    Sorour
    Participant

    Bruce,
    I am located in Mansfield.  If you are still interested please email me.
    I would also be interested in anything (at all) you could share about your project.

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    #72056

    Bruce Woloski
    Participant

    Paul
    I have not been in the site for awhile. I would like to get together for some benchmarking. The project on order picking accuracy has taken on some different twists, first with our customers reporting inaccuratly and then our measurement system which is not controled by the DC has had some inaccurate reporting as well.How do I get your e-mail address.
    Bruce

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    #80966

    Swaggerty
    Participant

    There are several references to Customer counting accuracy, At our warehouse.

     we perform daily cycle counts of all pick locations,(99.96% accurate)
     we perform 100% inspection of all loose units picked (Non-full case).
    We do a post verification audit at which we are 100%. We have found no errors.
    Our internal Pick Acuracy measurement of quality puts us at 4.96 sigma with a dpmo of 269, which we measure from the verification station.
    However we receive 30 to 40 customer complaints every month that we are over or short.  How do we teach the customer to count.

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    #80969

    Arthur
    Participant

    If your getting 30 to 40 calls per month, your customers are counting accurately.  Accurate inventory is a measurement of What you have VS what should I have.  Packing is a measurement of What should I pack VS what did I pack.   Do you have a process in place that measures this?

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    #80978

    Swaggerty
    Participant

    Arthur,
    We verify everything we pack and also do an audit after the verification process. Anytime a pick error is found in the packing process we count the pick location to verify that the error was a pick error and that the product was not placed into the wrong box. Our root cause indicates that our inventory count errors are due to pick errors. We do have a few count errors that we can’t tie to a pick. We felt that may be due to the verifiers not finding all errors, so we started the post verification audits. We audit about 15% and have not found an error yet.
    My point with the customer counts is that we are getting more complaints than lost or found inventory. We are counting our pick locations 3 times per week (11,000 locations) and are only finding 2 or 3 errors for less than 10 units.

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    #134099

    Chai
    Participant

    Hi I intend on improving the Order picking accuracy of our DC and would liek to discuss more. Ours is a very manual and labour intensive process – we have mapped entire process right from godd received to good shipped and have identified some areas of concern, however I would like to improve our process further.
     

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    #135693

    Swaggerty
    Participant

    Chai, Have you seen any improvements yet?

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    #147344

    Abdul Rahim Ali
    Participant

    hi friends
    Im a GB, and try to start a project in the procurement department. This Dept acts as interface between suppliers and end users. I have problems in delivery time by the suppliers. Moreover, my another problem is that to release the suppliers’ payment, I should recieve the Recieve Vouchers and Delivery Note from the end users (I recieve them long time later).  this cause problems between me and suppliers. I’d like to create a project but I don’t know how to start. Please, I need a help from you guys as experts in BB. 

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    #150879

    O’Connell
    Participant

    I am going for GB certification in Transactional 6S.  My area of focus was order filler accuracy.  I think the bottom line was order fillers were not following SOP’s and using the technology we provide them correctly.  At what point does a project become nothing more than accountability of the fillers.  Has anyone found a way to really motivate fillers to take ownership of their filling.  What type of rewards system would work?  When I presented my project to our 6S Counsel, I could show some mark improvements due to a drop in Customer Complaints, but the Balck Belt on the Counsel told me that a drop in complaints does not translate to 6S improvement since we know all customers do not report complaints.  Whay should I try?

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    #156037

    Lee Brantley
    Participant

    I am currently leading a six sigma project that is looking to improve picker accuracy.  I think in order to get the counsel on your side is that you should link your findings and improvements to organizational metrics; especially one that your DC may not be performing so well in.
    Also, an obstacle that i’m facing is that most of the problem is picker behavior (not following SOP).  With this information, one of the other managers is not in belief of the data mined, and continues to be an obstacle and in my opinion, makes her part of the problem.  She has been with the company quite longer than myself so her word carries a little bit more than mine.  How do you guys deal with this?

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    #156664

    Randy Oberhousen
    Participant

    I totally agree that if you don’t hold people accountable for at least a minimum standard all the other starategies will only yield marginal success.  
    What is considered a world class accuracy rate for case picking and how is it measured?  The operation I am currently seeking to imporve averages 120 cases per order @ about 35 lines per order.  With these parameters, any suggestions on how to best measure defects (cases, lines or orders)?  If cases and I have a one case over, one case short (in other words the wrong SKU was picked for a one case line) does that result in 2 defects or 1 ?

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    #165342

    Hani
    Participant

    Basically, picking accuracy can be broken down to several areas:
    1. Wrong picks
    2. Excess picks
    3. Short picks
    4. Serial number capturing
    If you try to sum up the aforementioned incidents and sum them up, you can compare them to the total number of Shipiing Orders that were issued on daily basis, then you can find the average defective proportion (p-hat) and use the p-chart as a control chart.
    Try not to complicate the calculation (for example, the excess picks manifests the number of incidents of picking excess quantities of one item, do not sum the excess quantity, just consider it as one incident per an opportunity of one Shipment Order)
    Try to keep it simple

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    #166528

    I’Anson
    Participant

    a) Deal with the other manager by having your goals to mirror the DC goals. keep it business reletive
    b) Work with your HR people to set,communicate ,follow up the SOP’s.
    c) Accountability by management to follow the SOP’s needs to be monitored by HR create a Fairness Doctrine
    d) Explain to the associates the benifits ,make them a part of the process.Find the few vocal and one on one give them parts to play in the process.involvement will go a long way to completing the process

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    #174130

    rodrigues
    Participant

    Does anyone know of an order picking/selecting written test prior to hire?  Where can I get a copy?

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    #174132

    Chris Whittaker
    Participant

    When you have something as manually intensive as order picking it is very hard to get a high level of accuracy , particulaly over a large number of SKUs.
    Sometimes this sort of project is better addressed by such things as Poka-Yoke, Kanban and other lean tools rather than a total six sigma approach..
    You can error proff things like picking by looking at warehouse layout and 5 s the storage area. Mistake proof the scan guns (if used) by not allowing the pickers to scan anything that is not on an a pick slip.
    Map your process and look at the opportunities for error, it is surprising what stands out when it is mapped. this is also a good opportunity to look at the pick flow.
    Lean will help remove some of the noise from the processes.
    Start to data collect and determine if the errors are the result of picking errors or are actually production errors . It is not impossible to have wrong labels put on products or wrong products in cartons. the pickers picked correctly , the product inside was wrong…..Not a picking error!!
    When working on a project like this it is a bit like eating an elephant , you do it a mouthful at a time.try and work on one customers orders or a group of customers orders to measure and analyse the process.Use Deeming cycles (PDCA) and impliment controls accordingly.
    Good Luck
     

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    #174278

    Chris Whittaker
    Participant

    Maria,
    I can not think of an outright test  other than to ensure that the picker can read and write english and has some numerical skills.(also include safe lifting methods in your test)
    I have worked in logistics for several companies and they all had different ways of picking orders, different methodologies and picking priority.
    It would be very difficult to screen an applicant for “picking skills” per se.
    Perhaps a better approach is rather than try and fit people to your process and narrow your opportunities of having suitable candidates is to simplify your processes so that anyone can be acceptable and bought up to speed with minimal training and supervision.
     
     
     

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    #174289

    rodrigues
    Participant

    I totally agree Chris, however our customer requires a written test so prior to writing one I was wondering if one already existed.  Thank you for your thoughts, m

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    #174500

    DC Mania
    Participant

    I work at a very large distribution company and I, too, as the resident blackbelt, conducted a project to reduce mispicks.  The very best tool I used was polling the employees to determine what causes mispicks.  The resulting answers were sorted and presented to the management team.  We tackled every issue and kept the employees up to date on our efforts.  Additionally, we created a check-off sheet that is completed after each mispick….a manager takes the sheet to the location where the mispick took place and goes through the items to see if anything existed that caused the mispick (looking at the location).  For example, did the location contain different items?  Was the shelf tag missing or damaged?
    However, I would really like to discuss other projects that have taken place to reduce mispicks.  If you are interested, send me your email address.  Maybe we can share best practices.

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    #177105

    AJ
    Participant

    I, too, have been assigned a project to reduce the number of mispicks.  I would appriciate any insight into any findings.  We have 6000 warehouse items that we pick from, and no pick has the same quantity than the previous pick.

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    #177106

    howe
    Participant

    I would be interested in your root cause tool regarding mispicks.  How can I get in touch with you?

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    #178579

    Ace
    Participant

    Please contact me at sixsigmatool at hotmail.com.  I, too, work in a warehouse and would be very much interested in a healthy discussion on reducing mispicks.  I can share with you what I have done.  Thanks!!

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    #180138

    Ruddy
    Participant

    I have read and reviewed processes in many job sets.I have come to the realization understanding the tools at hand are the biggest assset to becoming sucsessful. Giving employees a mind set to feel that they play a significant role in developing the job process.Getting people on board to achive a goal. Remember when you eat alone you can choke.

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    #182649

    Maureen Farrell
    Participant

    I’m a green belt ready to start a pick-error reduction product.My first impulse is to start collecting data. We don’t track and analyze pick errors now, only ship errors.
    I’d love to hear what others are doing, especially the about the management checklist, filled out after every error. Also, how to others find/track errors? Cycle counts? Inspections?

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    #182658

    MrMHead
    Participant

    “My first impulse is to start collecting data. “
    What kind of data are you collecting?  How do you know it is the right data?  How will this data help you identify what to improve?
    Hint:  Did you complete “D” ?

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    #182660

    maureen
    Participant

    What’s a “D”?
     
    The kind of data I planned to collect, so far, is:

    Whs zone
    Error bin
    Data and time when error was identified
    How error was identified (cycle count, inspection, etc)
    Material
    Qty
    Possible causes (wrong material in bin, miscount of picker, system error, etc…)
     
     
    We already have the quantity shipped per zone per day, and the number of picks…so we have the total metrics, we just need the error metrics.
     
     
     
     

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    #182662

    Mikel
    Member

    D is for Duh, of course.
    You might want to look at customer complaints for wrong items, incorrect counts as well.
    Mr. M’s suggestion was good – what data do you have that says thisis a good project?

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    #182680

    maureen
    Participant

    The situation here is that we have always looked at customer complaints and claims, and tried to fix any problems that might cause them.
    We have never monitored the picking process itself for errors, the kind of errors that may not go out the door, but may take n man-hours a week to track down before they go out the door…and some, of course, slip through to the customer.
    We don’t know if this is a good project…we want to measure the process and find out if we can improve it. 
    It’s not being measured now, only shipping errors are measured.
     
     

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    #182765

    Tony Hayward
    Member

    Hi Maureen
    Finding a suitable Six Sigma project can be very difficult. In principle “Order Picking Accuracy (or errors) should be a good one, but make sure that it is something that customers (internal and / or external) are complaining about and as a result the business is feeling some pain. Also make sure that the project is aligned to the business strategy – it’s not a useful utilization of resource to work on something today that by the time root causes have been found, it is being phased out of the business.
    Don’t jump in too quickly. Collect some initial data, sufficient to clearly define your problem. This may relate to issues with certain customers, various components or different picking areas if you have more than one etc.
    Use the initial data to scope your project, use any relevant tools (such as Pareto Analyse to scope down) to complete the Define phase and end up with your Project Charter with a very clear problem statement giving the current situation from current data collection methods.
    Move into the measure Phase with a clear understanding of the problem you are trying to solve, where you need quality data and implement data collections plans. If systems are not in place for the collection of good quality data on an ongoing basis, you may be able to plug the gap initially with a good temporary data collection methods, although if the situation is complex consideration should be given to a separate Design For Six Sigma project to get the right processes implemented. This might become the first project that should be done. Don’t be surprised if you have to re-visit your Define Phase if your data suggests your problem definition isn’t quite right or you need to re-scope. Many projects require a few iterations between Define and Measure. The important thing is that you don’t try to eat the elephant all in one bite (i.e. World Peace Projects), good quality data can be collected and that the outcome of the project adds real value to your customers and therefore to the business. Trying to calculate the cost of poor quality (both tangible and intangible) is valuable during the early stages.
    Sorry this is long winded – hope I’m not telling Grand Mother how to suck eggs – Tony

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    #182808

    Leoni
    Participant

    We collect Pick Error Data by tracking QC Inspections, Packer Verification (error is caught prior to going out the door) Customer Complaints and Returns/Overshipments (out the door).
    I would suggest collecting the data and quantifying the cost of correcting the error (both prior and out the door). This will allow you to have the information to determine if a Sigma Project is warranted.

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    #182971

    Qualityisreallyfree
    Participant

    Bruce,
    Our distribution pick/pack facility is in Colchester CT. I’d love to collaborate on benchmarking. We’ve got our share of picking inaccuracies and methods of data collection and validation.contact me at [email protected]

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    #183114

    Patrick MacDonald
    Participant

    I am currently working on a six sigma project also looking to reduce picking errors.
    Like mentioned by others, it’s important to clearly define the problem.  In this case, we initially scoped customer returns as a major headache.  I am working with a pharmaceutical distributor, and the returns process for pharmaceutical products is very intensive, complicated, and expensive. 
    We currently log all customer returns by standard codes, and have been doing so for many years.  This is good data to start the measure phase with.  We also have customer complaints.  Both sets of data point to the wrong item/qty delivered, double orders delivered, and customers receiving shipments they didn’t order.  This could be caused by picking errors but is not limited to just that.  A simple Fishbone diagram revealed the various root causes which could result in a wrong shipment to a customer.  Our DC utilizes conveyor belt picking so basically, we assume the stock on the shelve at the specified location is correct.  We suspect most of the picking errors are caused by some mistake in the receiving to put away process – which results in a discrepancy between our warehouse management system (which the pickers rely on) & physical stock.
    We are moving along quite effortlessly thus far, but I am wondering if I should do any kind of data collection or experiment to prove how often each type of failure mode happens.  It can be sometimes difficult to determine exactly root cause has happened for each individual case.  Anyone have ideas on experiments or strategies to deal with this?  Or would it be ok to move ahead with subjective rankings of the root causes by the people who are dealing with this day to day?  In the end, we will address all failure mode it’s just a matter of prioritizing the mini projects.
    I’d love to get in contact with anyone who has experience with a similar project.  You can reach me at [email protected]
    Thanks,
    Patrick

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    #183119

    MrMHead
    Participant

    It sounds like you have data on just the failures (return codes, customer complaints).  Hopefully you have date/time data with that.  Are you able to get historical data on total orders for a period of time?  That would give you your rate of failure.  Then that could be your metric to improve.
    You may have gone through this, but other factors could be – time or shift of either put-away or pickers, product or mfr, type of product.
    It’s great to see that instead of trying to improve the Returns Process, where you started – you are trying to reduce/eliminate the returns to begin with.  Not everyone takes that next step. 

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    #183142

    Patrick MacDonald
    Participant

    I never thought of looking at the different zones picking accuracy – I guess I missed that step in the analyze phase.  Good lesson for a six sigma rookie – this is my first project and I’m uncertified.  I’ll have a look at the data and see if I need to return back to the analyze phase.
    My approach thus far has been simpler – I just took the RCN reason codes, got a x-functional team together over a few weeks, kept peeling back the onion, and came up with our root causes. Then did a FMEA to prioritize the most pressing issues.  Now I’m mapping root causes vs process controls, to see which root causes are lacking controls, while at the same time reviewing each control and asking my X-functional team for input for any new controls that may help. I found it useful to compare what they are checking – for ex physical stock vs our WMS, Delivery Note vs Goods Recieved Note, etc.  This really shows if your control is checking the right things.
    So far, a few very simple changes in our controls seem like they have potential to improve.  Problem I’m facing is for the rest, they may require some investment.  Without hard data on the occurance rates, I’m a big hesitant to present to my senior mgmt. Is it acceptable in Six Sigma to move ahead with a ranking of the severity & occurances by my x-functional team?

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    #183701

    Sheena Sivaprasad
    Member

    Hi,
    I am trying to do a green belt project on improving
    the accuracy of count in the inventory versus
    physical stock and what is in the system (SAP).
    I do not have a coach and would also like to have
    some advice and direction on this project please.
    Thank you for all assistance in advance.
    Sheena

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    #183738

    Dennis Z
    Participant

    One thing you could look at that usuallis overlooked is travel distance.  If your warehouse is poorly laid out there will be a lot of wasted traveling to and from inventory locations.  Fastest moving items should be at the front of the warehouse and there should be a pick sequence that follows a logical path

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