So you want to improve your performance as a warehouse order picker?
Becoming better at picking not only improves your job satisfaction, it may also lead to higher pay.
In this article, I’m going to share with you a few tips I have picked up along the way as warehouse picker that have boosted my picking speed and efficiency.
Get a Watch
Seriously. This has improved my picking speed immensely. The trick is to time yourself per order. Note the time it takes you to complete one order, and if it’s a lot, pace yourself in the next order.
Another tip is to time yourself per aisle. Give a yourself a goal of how long it’s going to take you finish one aisle, say two minutes, and try to accomplish that in two minutes or less.
These tips will help in increasing your picking speed.
Practice Holding Items Once
As you gain experience as a picker, you start to intuitively know where to place boxes on a pallet in a way that they will hold.
My goal is to touch a box only once when I place it on a pallet. I aim not to rearrange the pallet in any way. This way, those seconds I save add up to a lot by the end of an order.
Another benefit is that it will save you a lot of energy by decreasing the movements you have to make.
Memorize Where Items are Found
Knowing in which slots certain items are placed comes with experience. However, you can try to memorize the location for a few of them.
If your picking process is augmented by a voice assistant, then try to memorize the slot numbers for some of the items. This way, you don’t have to keep checking the number every time you are directed to a slot.
You will find that when doing this, your speed and efficiency will improve.
Try to increase your walking speed when going from one slot to the next. Always be thinking about picking the next item.
Don’t stand around to think about anything else. Just focus on walking faster and picking.
As a result, the time it takes to complete your order will improve.
Improve Your Pallet Building Skills
We talked about touching one item only once when placing it on a pallet. This is only possible with good pallet building skills.
Depending on your warehouse policy, there are certain ways they require them to build a pallet.
For example, you may need to palace heavier boxes at the corner to improve balance and stability.
The less accidents and pallet tipping over you have the higher your picking rate. If you spend too much time rebuilding your pallet, your speed goes down.
If you work in a warm and dry warehouse or section of a warehouse**,** always bring a bottle of water with you.
It is important to be taking a sip of water every once in a while to stay hydrated.
Remember that dehydration will lead to exhaustion which will in turn make you slower.
If your warehouse allows it, you can replace water with an electrolyte beverage such as Gatorade.This helps out a tone in my experience.
It is important to take breaks assigned to you during work.
I strongly suggest not to skip your lunch break. Eating some food will improve your strength and thus improve your performance in the warehouse.
Not to mention the rest your body needs in order to get back feeling energized and refreshed.
I’ve seen some people not take breaks and still have low performance/picking speed. So don’t be one of those guys.
Eat Good Food
Gas station meals won’t do, unfortunately. Just like guys who do body building at the gym need good nutrition to gain strength, so do you.
Carbs, proteins, greens and fruits are all needed if you want to maintain your strength now and in future.
Heavy manual labor takes a toll on your body, and you may not realize it in your younger years. But if you are used to eating gas station pizza, you might pay for it in your later age.
Take the time to prepare good nutritious meals at home. I know it takes work and discipline to to do it every day but your body will thank you for it.
Alternatively, you can meal prep on your days off and store ready made food in the freezer to eat during your work week.
Wear Light Clothing
You need to wear light clothing for agility and movement. Unless you work in the freezer, of course.
You may not notice it at first but heavy clothing wears you down. If your warehouse allows it, try wearing shorts and a t-shirt, with reflective clothing on top.
It makes a great difference for your picking performance.
Get Lighter Shoes
The type of shoe you wear in the warehouse will have a great impact on your speed and agility in the warehouse.
Not only do you need steel toe shoes that are approved, e.g. by the CSA Group in Canada, it is also important that they be as light as possible.
This will also be good for your feet and legs. Boots that are too heavy will pull and stretch tendons and ligaments on your ankles leading causing pain and inflammation.
You need your eight hours of sleep if your body is going to be up to the task of warehouse work the next day.
Too many times have I seen people who come in to work without having had enough sleep the previous night.
You can easily spot them by their slow movement or clumsy picking where they keep dropping their items. This can get dangerous pretty fast especially if you are handling machinery.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t have the energy to lift items for long. You are also not doing your body any good.
Get to Work Early
I try to get to work an hour before time. This way, I get to prepare myself for work. Depending on your situation, you may not have that one hour to spare.
However, make sure you allow yourself time to gather any equipment you may need, eat a snack or two or use the bathroom before you begin work.
This also reduces stress before you begin and helps you get into the mindset for work.
Find a Pacesetter
You know those guys who are super fast and efficient with their picking? Wouldn’t it be great if you could work just as great as they do?
When I was starting out, I used to try and keep up with one of those guys and as a result my picking speed improved.
Make sure to be careful when you do it so you don’t have an accident or spill your items. Just do it as fast as you are able to, especially if you are just starting out.
Give it Time
My last tip is to just be patient. Remember, it’s not a race. Believe it or not, you actually do get better with time.
Your body gets used to it and you experience less muscle aches.
I’ve seen guys who start out quite slow but eventually get the hang of it and are now faster than some of the guys who’ve been doing it for a long time.
If you’re scared of heights…
Using an order picker means that you’ll be several feet up in the air much of the time. This can cause a lot of distress for people with a fear of heights.
The only way to overcome this fear is by getting used to working on the OP. This happens over time.
To give yourself peace of mind take the time to inspect your harness before you start working. This will build confidence in your machine and your safety.
Being a picker can be a rewarding job. You get decent pay and a workout out of it.
And the better you are at it, the more fulfilling it is. As I said, if you feel that you are still not good at it, just give it time.
Show up to work every day and if you follow the tips I have outlined above, you will slowly but surely become a better warehouse picker.