Pick modules are typically multi-level structures that combine various storage configurations with conveyors so that a high volume of broken pallet or broken case order picking can be accomplished. Pick modules are engineered solutions, custom made to meet the individual distribution center's operational needs. They are so unique, that it is highly unlikely that there are two pick modules exactly the same. The advantages and goals of the pick modules include:
- Increase flow efficiency - Order pickers can spend more time picking than traveling. Replenishment occurs on the back side while order picking on the front side since pallet and carton flow is typically used as the storage medium. First in, First out (FIFO) inventory rotation is often utilized so that product expiration or minimized.
- Save floor space - By utilizing the cubic space of the distribution center with extremely dense storage, the pick module consumes far less square footage compared to pallet rack or shelving.
- Decrease labor expenses - Since more time is spent doing productive tasks, such as order picking and replenishment, compared to non-productive tasks such as walking, the labor requirement for order fulfillment is typically far less compared to picking from shelving or pallet rack.
The structures that make up the pick module can be either rack supported with a solid or grated decking, shelf supported with grated decking, supported by pre-engineered mezzanines with various decking or with traditional poured in place concrete mezzanines. The storage medium can also vary based on the order profile of the distribution center. Storage medium typically used on an order picking module include:
- Carton Flow Rack - Typically used when performing broken case picking to a carton or tote in zones. This is often seen in a "pick and pass" fulfillment operation
- Pallet Flow Rack - Used when performing full case picks from pallets. Also used in cluster picking
- Push Back Rack - Often used on upper level pick modules or adjacent to pick modules as the replenishment storage medium for the pallet flow or carton flow
- Shelving - Ideal for slow moving SKUs that are ordered on a unit level and by the case
Pick modules are the heartbeat of the distribution center. The majority of labor in a distribution center is associated with either the replenishment or order picking activities inside the module. Therefore, great thought and foresight must be used when designing order picking systems. Understanding the picking method to be used in the pick module is critical to the design. Performing a slotting analysis on the current and future order profiles so that the proper type of storage medium for each SKU is determined is essential. Additionally, there are a variety of other considerations when designing pick module systems:
- Picking Technologies
- Paper Picking
- RF Picking
- Pick to Lights
- Voice Picking
- Use of Conveyor
- Gravity Conveyor Straddling the Take Away Conveyor
- Gravity Conveyor in Front of the Pick Faces with Take Away Conveyor Down the Middle of the Aisles
- Trash Conveyor for Broke Case Picks
- Take Away Conveyor Serpentine Through Each Level
- Dedicated Take Away Conveyor per Level with a Downstream Merge
- Fire & Safety
- Egress Requirements
- Lighting Requirement
- Fans and Cooling Requirement
- Anti-Fatigue Matting
- Sprinkler and Fire Safety
- ADA Accessibility
- Floor Loading and Structural Analysis
- Fall Safety
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