Here’s the thing. Location validation is not the end of the road to improved picking accuracy. In our last blog, we discussed the importance of voice picking validations to improve pick accuracy. Our starting point was the location check digit. Confirming you are in the correct location using the check digit, which is independent from the rack location number, is a big step forward toward accuracy. This independent check digit can either be voiced by the picker or scanned as part of a multimodal approach.
Right Place, Wrong Product
BUT, although you can give a valid check digit confirming you are at the right location, the product there may be incorrect. During Put Away, a distracted worker could put the product in an adjacent picking location. This is a common Put Away error, contributing to not only picking errors, but the overall inventory accuracy.
Say “Yes” to Dual Picking Validations
One of the many ways voice automated workflows offer high accuracy is through the ability for more than one type of validation. After location, the most frequently used secondary validation is to confirm the product in the picking location. When combined, this dual validation approach can significantly improve picking accuracy. Not only are you in the right place, you are confirming the product the WMS expects to be there is there.
A product validation can also either be voiced or scanned — especially with consumer-packaged goods as every product has a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) barcode.
The validation process can be one of the following:
- A picker voices the last four or five digits of the SKU on the product to validate the complete number.
- A picker scans the barcode in response to a voice prompt .
Another benefit of multimodal is if the barcode is damaged, the product validation can still be done by voicing the numbers.
Keep in mind barcodes are not just lines across a label, the actual number the lines represent is also part of the label:
In this example, if the picker were to voice in the digits, he or she would use “73070”, the last five digits of this “known” number.
Inventory Accuracy: “Houston, we have a problem”
Dual picking validations can not only improve picking accuracy, but also identify inventory accuracy issues in real time. Finding the wrong product in a location and immediately sending an error notification during picking helps rapidly improve inventory accuracy. This rules-based notification process can even create immediate cycle counting assignments that will lead to crucial adjustments to inventory in the WMS and prevent the release of more picking assignments for the wrong SKU.
This is the hallmark of a well-designed voice workflow! Real-time error visibility that leads to a system-based ability to quickly resolve the problem. Location and product validations are the workhorses of pick accuracy improvement.
What About Unique Product Validations?
For some industries, there are other critical points of validation unique to certain types of products:
- lot numbers
- expiration dates
- “sell by dates” (e.g. food)
- serial numbers (high value products in a range of industries).
These picking assignments require a specific lot or other special number at the pick location. The picker voices the number, or scans a barcode, before given the quantity to pick. Alternatively, the picker is required to say the special number without being given it in advance. If the response does not match the number received from the WMS, the picker is not given the quantity to pick, and an error message is sent to a supervisor immediately.
Validating by both location and product increases the accuracy of order fulfillment, identifies inventory issues, and delivers that happy customer!