Material Handling

How To Pick Smart

There's more to picking parts than you might think

There are many different ways you can pick parts for production with the optimal method depending on a variety of factors from production volume, product mix, bottlenecks, business goals, and more. Let’s explore the basics of how to think about picking your parts, starting with the three general ways to do it.

Kit Picking

Kit picking is the culinary equivalent of a chef's mise en place in manufacturing – gather all the components necessary for a job before starting. This method ensures that setup times are minimized as everything needed for assembly is on hand. Knowing all parts are ready allows for precise production scheduling and can reduce assembly downtime. However, this requires a significant upfront investment of time to compile the kit and can pose space challenges for storing separate kits on or near the production floor. If a single component is missing or delayed it can halt the entire job, turning your kitting process into a significant potential bottleneck.

Single Package Picking

This lean approach uses more of a just-in-time philosophy, where parts are picked as needed - typically one package at a time. The flexibility of this method shines when adapting to shifting production demands or priorities, and can work for the high volume and low volume manufacturers alike. This process requires allocating smart storage space at the point of use, like in the setup area or right on production lines so that parts are always on hand where they are needed. If parts are located too far away, significant travel times can add up quickly as operators are continually picking more parts during setup and production.

Hybrid Picking

In reality most operations will not fall perfectly on either end of the spectrum, and will end up with some combination of picking types. One common hybrid picking method is to pick in two batches: one batch with just enough packages to get the line set up, and a second batch with any extra packages required to complete the full production run. Depending on the operation a steady running job might work best with single-package picks, while less common jobs get kitted. Certain parts, like PCBs and connectors, may get kitted ahead of time while common passive components are only picked when needed on the line.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully it's clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for how to pick parts. Different processes will work better for different manufacturing operations, and even within the same facility it is common to use a mixture of picking strategies to meet the needs of the business. Get in touch to discuss your material handling headaches and how Smart Storage can help you achieve your business goals.

Similar posts

Get notified about new Inovaxe content

Be the first to know when Inovaxe has something new to share!

Subscribe now