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Goods-to-person – The best way to pick

For as long as we can remember, high efficiency has always been critical in the workplace. Getting work done properly and as fast as possible has been lauded as the ultimate achievement for eons, and that still holds true today. In fact, as more advanced technology becomes available, it’s becoming increasingly essential for an operation’s survival. That is why goods-to-person (GTP) technology is such a game-changer, especially when it comes to warehousing operations. In this post, we’ll discuss how GTP technology works, why it fosters efficiency, and highlight how it helped Petzl, a sports gear manufacturer, soar to success.

What is goods-to-person technology?

GTP is a type of picking methodology that was designed to improve efficiency in order fulfillment operations. It is a preparation strategy that uses automated systems to deliver products directly to the operator’s pick station, as opposed to having the operator travel to where the product is housed. This means everything an operator needs to complete an order for shipment is delivered to their workstation, reducing the chance of manual error or delays.

How it works

For goods-to-person picking to work, the merchandise or product needs to be stored in a mini-load system that is equipped with cranes or autonomous vehicles for transporting totes or products. Other technologies exist as well to move storage totes to the picker.  These systems usually work in conjunction with pick stations where the operator receives totes from which they can pick the required units, and then the system automatically returns the totes to their proper place on the rack. 

GTP tasks are often managed by the Warehouse Management System (WMS), as it syncs the movements of all the warehouse’s automated systems with the Warehouse Control System (WCS). Operators have computers at their pick stations, which allows them to access detailed instructions on what is required of them for each order they receive.  In other situations, the WCS or WES (Warehouse Execution System) drives the work tasks.

GTP picking can also be used for larger items, like picking from pallets. The only difference is the operator will receive the entire pallet at their picking station from which the operator can remove the boxes they need, and then have the pallet returned to its proper location. This is how operators can, with the aid of task-driven logic from the WMS or WES, put together multiple orders at once.

Why choose goods-to-person picking?

As the name suggests, merchandise is delivered directly to the operator, which reduces operator movements exponentially.  This helps lower the chances of order errors or accidents and saves time too. Instead of an operator walking to an aisle, looking for the bin they need, grabbing the item, and then walking back to their station, they have the item delivered straight to them. This not only eliminates wasted time it increases facility efficiency. 

Depending on the system installed, productivity could skyrocket to up to 1,000 picks per hour. While a WMS can improve efficiency with a person-to-goods picking strategy by establishing optimal routes, GTP picking will almost always be more efficient than what any manual process would allow. 

Are there downsides to goods-to-person picking?

Operations working with high order volumes and uniform products can benefit greatly from a goods-to-person strategy. However, GTPs require a certain amount of standardization to work, which means any inconsistencies could damage the equipment. For example, if the operation is dealing mostly with standard boxes of varying sizes, GTPs can work very well. However, if the operation has merchandise stored in a variety of heavy items or items that don’t store well in totes, then manual processes may be a safer bet, as they allow for these non-traditional packages to be processed without error.

Automating warehouse operations does represent a significant investment, though it’s one that can usually present ROI pretty quickly. How? By eliminating errors and by increasing the number of orders dispatched on any given day. In fact, while not automating may seem to be the more economical option on the surface, the amount of money spent on addressing mistakes made manually could add up to the same amount. So you’re better off spending the money on an improved system, rather than on fixing mistakes that could have been avoided. 

Petzl and goods-to-person picking

Petzl has invented products and provided solutions that allow sports enthusiasts and professionals to access some of the most inaccessible places, both day and night. Which is why when they asked Cornerstone Edge to help with their accessibility issues, we jumped at the opportunity. They needed help implementing an operational flow design that allowed for increased picking and pre-ticketing processing without interrupting their services.

By implementing a goods-to-man picking strategy, Petzl was able to reduce manual labor by 50% and reduce pre-ticketing processing by 25%. To learn more about their process, check out this case study. If you need help improving efficiencies in your operation, but you’re not sure where to start, we can help. Reach out and let’s see if we’re a good fit!


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