Loose Picking: How the Westminster Reorder Process Works
In our ongoing effort to offer insights into “How Our Books Get to Market,” we present Tina Ruppert, Director, Westminster Operations. As part of the warehouse supply chain process, Tina says that using an efficient and productive system, on average, “We pick 8,000 to 10,000 cartons containing 160,000 to 200,000 units/loose books each day across 3 shifts. We have three systems FORTE (conveyor system), Dematic (voice picking system) and FKI Intelligrated (loose pick unit system) that are communicating with our MARC system during the loose pick and pack process.
“Every title stored in the warehouse has a loose pick location. Our loose pick operations consist of three different sized locations based on a 90-day rate of movement for each title. Books are picked using a voice picking system, Dematic. Each user has a template that is set up in Dematic to recognize their voice responses.”
Sharon Lookingbill, Manager, Warehouse, Reorder-Loose Picking, notes, “One thing that is unique to this (voice) system is that the unit will recognize a user’s response based on the way the user trains it and each unit is unique to the user. When picking, the voice unit gives the voice picker that location to pick from. A user must scan the book to verify picking accuracy before the system will give them the quantity of books to pick from that location.”
Tina adds, “All rush, foreign, dated, consumer, Xmemo or large freight orders are picked into a carton at the flow rack and shelving locations directly into a carton. All other order types are picked into totes and are sent to our unit sorter. At the unit sorter the books in each tote are inducted onto a conveyor. The unit sorter will send the books down a sorter chute where the books are packed into a carton designated for each order. For optimum efficiency we either pack into a carton or pick into a tote that would go to the unit sorter based on order types and volumes.”
15-inch shelf locations, which can hold up to one carton each, are for the slowest moving titles. 24-inch shelf locations are for titles whose rate of movement falls between being a slow and fast moving title. These locations can hold up to two cartons of books. Flow rack locations, which can hold up to 9 cartons of books, are for storing our fastest moving titles.
Tina explains, “All cartons, once picked into a carton at the loose pick mods, shelves or unit sorter, travel on our conveyor system known as FORTE across a scale for a weight check verification. Any cartons not passing the weight check will be sent to our quality assurance area to be inspected and 100% checked.
“Cartons that pass the weight check, or once they are finished in the quality assurance area, travel via conveyor to our Case Seal area. Case seal will have any necessary packing invoices inserted into the carton and will also insert bubble wrap into any void areas. The cartons will then be sealed and sent to our shipping department via the conveyor to be prepared for shipping to the customer.”