Picking is the process of using the barcode scanner to record the items you are putting into a sales order shipment. The scanner has several different picking user interface options to support various warehouse picking processes. The main options are:
- Basic picking -- pick one order at time
- Wave picking -- pick multiple orders simultaneously, on a tour
- Pick-and-pack -- two-step process, first pick and transfer to packing table, then pack from packing table
The basic picking option also has two sub-options: Directed picking, and non-directed picking. Directed picking tells you where to go and guides you through the picking list according to an ordering criterion that you can select; non-directed picking merely records what you pick in whatever order you scan items. You can select which form of picking applies from the scanner's settings page. Directed picking is the default.
Directed picking tells you what item to pick next, going through the items in the sales order one at a time, sorted according to one of several options you can select from the settings page: List (sorted in the original order), Standard bin (sorted according the the items' standard bin field), Product ID (sorted according the the product ID, in alphabetical order), or Sublocation (sorted by sublocation in alphabetical order).
If you reach an item that want to skip over, you press the menu button and do "Skip item". Later if you want to return to the skipped items, you can go to back to the menu and select "Unskip items".
You can do the menu item "Review items" to review your overall status of picking for the order.
Non-directed picking allows you to pick the items in any order, by simply recording what you pick instead of telling you what to pick. If you use non-directed picking, you usually have on hand a printed paper copy of the sales order or intended shipment to tell you what to pick.
With non-directed picking, the menu item "Review items" is especially useful, because it allows you to see any differences between what you've picked and what is in the order, including omissions, substitutions, or additional items.
Wave picking is the process of picking multiple orders simultaneously. Typically the picker has a cart with ten or twenty boxes on it, each with a simple label like A, B, C, D, etc. At the beginning of a wave picking operation, the picker chooses what set of orders he wants to pick and assigns a box on the cart to each order. Then he starts the wave picking tour. The scanner tells him where to go in the warehouse, what to pick, and what box to put it in. The wave picking tour can be substantially more efficient than picking orders independently because at each stop in the tour you pick the items from that sublocations for all the orders that need them, rather than returning to that sublocation multiple times. At the end of the wave picking tour the picker closes the boxes and ships them out.
Pick-and-pack is the two-step process of gathering all the items needed for a set of orders and moving them to a packing table (the picking step), and then packing the orders into boxes from the shipping table (the packing step). Similar to wave picking, the picker begins by selecting the set of orders being picked, except that unlike wave picking the picker doesn't need to assign the orders to specific boxes on the cart because all the items are being transferred together to the packing table.
The picking step for pick-and-pack is like the wave picking tour except that all the items just go into cart together instead of being placed into labelled boxes. Having picked all the items in the picking step, the picker then selects the sublocation that represents the packing table, and the first step concludes by recording that all picked items have been transferred to that sublocation.
The packing step is the process of packing the individual orders from the stock that has been collected and transferred to the packing table. Conceptually this step is similar to basic picking except that you don't need to go anywhere in the warehouse because everything you need is already at the packing table. For quality control, some companies still scan every item as they pack the orders from the packing table. Other companies concerned more about efficiency choose the scanner option called "scan packed orders" to record the orders as fully packed as they pack them just by scanning the order ID instead of scanning every item (i.e., fewer scans required).
While picking, if you click on the scanner input box instead of scanning an item, you we get a list of all the units in stock of that item at their respective sublocations and with their respective lot IDs or serial numbers if they have them. You can click on a row in this list to select the item you are picking, along with its sublocation and lot ID. This feature is particularly useful if your items have lot IDs or serial numbers and you don't have barcodes for that information. Selecting an item from a list is a lot faster than typing in a long lot ID!
If you use click-to-pick, you must have the 'Automatic barcodes' setting turned on (see settings page), which is on by default.
Scanning a barcode to change the sublocation
When you are on the scanning page for picking, either directed or non-directed picking, then you scan scan or type in the sublocation into main scan box to change sublocations. Scanning a sublocation barcode can be much faster that clicking the menu button and doing the "Set sublocation" command. To make a sublocation barcode, you can use any barcode printing software or web page to make a barcode that represents the name of the sublocation. You can keep these sublocation barcodes in a binder or put them on the racks or bays that they apply to.
Pressing tab to skip the current item in directed pick
The tab key skips the current item. The result is the same as the menu item, "Skip item."
Pressing tab to skip to the next pick list
In directed pick, if the pick list is complete, the pressing the tab key on the "Done!" page skips to the next pick list (same as the menu item "Next pick list").
Left arrow, right arrow, and enter
The right arrow button on the scanner's keyboard is always equivalent to clicking the right virtual button on the row of three buttons on the bottom of the screen (usually called "Menu"). Similarly the left arrow is used for the left button, and the enter key is the center button. The up and down arrows are used to show the quantity box when the scanner is configured to not show the quantity box by default, and to increment or decrement quantity if the scanner is configured with the quantity box.
Space bar for stock details
Pressing the space bar will show the "Item stock details" for the item you are being directed to pick, or for the last item scanned if you are doing non-directed picking. The stock details are a comprehensive stock accounting of all stock matching the product ID, including all lots and sublocations and packings. The space bar is also the shortcut key to exit the stock details page, allowing you to pop in and out of the stock details effortlessly.
The most common error messages when picking warn you that picking the item you just scanned would make the recorded quantity of that item go negative, which is usually an error. In this situation, you are typically looking at the item you just scanned, thinking "I know the quantity is not negative because I am holding one of them in my hand, so why is the scanner telling me the quantity is going negative?"
The reason is often that you are in a different sublocation from the current sublocation on the scanner. The quantity is not going negative in your view of the world, but it would be going negative in the scanner's view. The solution is to undo, then change the sublocation by scanning your current sublocation into the main scan box or selecting your sublocation from the menu option, then scan the item again.
Sometimes the quantity error messages involve other factors. Here are the messages and their meanings.
Lot qty going negative
If picking the item with its Lot ID would cause the recorded quantity of that Lot ID to go negative in the scanner's current sublocation but if sufficient quantity of the item exists at the same sublocation without the Lot ID check, then the scanner displays the error message "Lot qty going negative" to give you a hint that the Lot ID is probably the issue.
As an example, you may be scanning with the wrong Lot ID default setting, or you may be scanning a particular Lot ID that is in a different sublocation.
Pack qty going negative
If the Lot ID check was not the issue (see previous error message), but by similar logic the case packing was the issue, then the scanner displays the error message "Pack qty going negative". This message occurs typically when you are scanning in case mode or units mode accidentally when you mean to be in the other mode.
For example, if you are in case mode unintentionally and you scan an item for which you have open stock units available but no cases available, then picking that case would make the recorded quantity of cases become negative, producing the error message.
Quantity going negative
If picking the item causes the recorded quantity to go negative but neither of the other quantity error messages apply (see above), then the message is simply "Quantity going negative".