Distribution Center Management – Using Put Wall Systems

put wall

Distribution Center Management – Using Put Wall Systems

Distribution Center management – Using Put Wall Systems

Looking to boost accuracy and productivity in your piece-pick operations?  Consider a put wall system, a scalable solution that works well in a variety of sectors, including office supplies, medical devices, toys and jewelry.

The put wall system is based on an industrial engineering strategy that deconstructs and re-constructs orders to create an efficient order fulfillment process.  The process includes a quality check by scanning each item at the put wall.

The entire process is paperless and managed in real time. For operational flexibility, each put wall can process single-line or multi-line orders. Put walls can also be mounted on wheels and moved around the distribution center or moved into position as daily requirements change.

The system even scales up for peak periods, by activating standby put walls. The modular construction of the put wall and software allows fast and easy future expansions.

By consolidating orders and packing, the put wall boosts productivity, order accuracy, speed and efficiency.  A “divide and conquer” strategy, the put wall combines order lines from multiple orders and created high-density, efficient picking throughout the warehouse. The put wall is used to consolidate and pack the items for each individual order.

The put wall is a goods-to-person system directed by software. A typical put wall system has multiple workstations and often uses a conveyor to deliver containers of preselected product. The workstation is made up of a wall of shelving with individual compartments that each holds a customer order. Put walls can support any number of separate order compartments.  The compartments can be configured in multiple sizes to support multiple order volumes.

The front or induct side is dedicated to putting items into the compartments as they are removed one at a time from the pre-picked totes. Each compartment corresponds to a specific order. The back side is dedicated to the packing orders.

The put wall system is implemented down-stream from the pick process.  The items for each order are picked before arriving at the put wall. A few examples:

Batch Picking: The batch pick configuration is efficient because each picker will collect items for multiple inbound batch totes in a single pass through the warehouse. Instructions are sent by handheld devices, voice terminals, or lights. When all the items for a batch are picked, the containers are transferred to one or more of the put wall modules. Transportation to the put wall system may occur by using pick carts or conveyor.

Pre-Put: The pre-put method collects the precise quantity of each product into one container for each put wall.  The pre-put containers travel to only one put wall.

SKU Buffer: This method is designed around a high-density staging buffer, such as a miniload automated storage retrieval system or multi-shuttle. A tote of one SKU is retrieved from the storage buffer and routed to each put wall that requires that SKU. After the tote travels to all of the put wall workstations requiring the SKU, the tote travels back to the staging buffer and is stored.

At each put wall, an operator begins by scanning the next tote in sequence to be processed. Once the tote is inducted, the operator picks up the first item in the tote and scans it. A light mounted at the location in the put wall illuminates, showing where to put the item. When all of the items for an outbound order have been placed in the assigned compartment, a light on the packing side of the put wall shines, indicting to the operator to begin the pack-out process. When the pack light is acknowledged, the system will assign the next available order items from the inbound container.

The packing side is designed with a work bench, packing materials and shipping containers. Completed orders are packed into shipping containers.

As more and more distribution centers have launched put wall solutions in recent years, the verdict is in: This new configuration performs well and has proven a successful solution for consolidating customer orders in a piece-pick environment. The pick productivity and order accuracy realized by users of the put wall is impressive.