Skip to the main content.





Paya Nuvei Logo 2


AvidXchange Logo USE


3 min read

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and the Basics of Discrete Picking

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and the Basics of Discrete Picking

Warehouse_Management_System_-_iCepts_Discrete_Picking.pngDiscrete Picking and Your Warehouse Management System (WMS)

As your business grows, maintaining productivity while also keeping accurate inventory counts and reliable  fulfillment are common challenges in today’s distribution centers (DC). It’s important to know if you are picking in the most effective order and more importantly, picking the order in the right way. If you are a multi-channel fulfillment company like Amazon, your picking methods become more important as a determinant in the overall productivity of your operations.

Review of 2 Pick Methodologies – Process Based Picking and Layout Based Picking

  1. Process Based Picking:  This option focuses on how the order is picked while layout based picking focuses on how the pick area is organized and operational flow.
  2. Discrete Picking:  This option is basically one warehouse operator picking one order at a time and it’s the most common pick process due to process simplicity and control. Picking one order at a time is typically easier to control and manage. There is only one carton or tote to pick which minimizes the potential of the picked item being placed into the wrong carton. For larger multi-line type orders, this might be a good pick process. Keep in mind, for single line, single item orders, this process results in lower operator productivity.

Discrete Picking and the Warehouse Management System 

In a discrete pick, the operator is directed to each bin in sequence, and told the product, pack size, and quantity to pick. The required products for each order are picked then scanned with its barcode label. The appropriate carton number is then provided  to pack the product. The items are then placed into this carton and the label is scanned  for that carton. Finally, the quantity of the product that was picked is entered in the warehouse management system. The warehouse operator is then directed to the next order to  pick and the process is repeated until you have picked and packed the complete order.

For picking large discrete orders you can reduce the order cycle time (increase throughput) by assigning multiple operators to a pick. This can be accomplished by splitting up the order picks by aisle or area where different operators pick the items in a specific aisle or area (see our Zone Picking article). Alternatively, operators will work in the same area but start at opposite ends to eventually meet in the middle when the order is complete. This is supported by a concept referred to as Reverse Picking.

5 Tips for your Picking Strategy with your Warehouse Management System:

  1. Keep pickers picking…not waiting…  Keep a queue of orders and/or products available to the picker. This requires an effective replenishment strategy if you are using a forward pick/reserve storage layout.
  2. Keep pickers picking…and not doing non-pick tasks…  Do not bog pickers down with other tasks such as carton erection and taping, labeling, wrapping, adding dunnage, etc. Pickers are typically your most skilled warehouse resource.
  3. Minimize product touches…  Ideally, it is best to design your pick process so that there is sufficient accuracy at the time of picking to eliminate the need for subsequent checking and repacking. Each unit of product is touched only by the pickers’ hands before the carton is sealed and transported to an outbound truck.
  4. Minimize travel…  Pick from both sides of the aisle from properly sized pick modules. Unused space between pick modules and pick lanes can unnecessarily lengthen a pick path. Segregate slow movers from fast moving SKUs to avoid repetitive, unproductive travel past them when not needed.
  5. Move the slow moving items…  Consider picking very slow moving SKUs from reserve storage rather than forward pick bins. Seek opportunities to batch pick many smaller orders in one trip. Pick all one-line, single-piece orders together since no sorting is necessary to break them down into a discrete order level.

Learn more about Warehouse Management Systems Functionality

Posted by iCepts Technology Group, Inc. An Accelos and Microsoft Dynamics NAV Partner in Pennsylvania

About iCepts Technology Group, Inc. Middletown, PA

We are a Microsoft Dynamics NAV Partner offering implementation, service, and support for Microsoft Dynamics NAV in: PA, DC, DE, MD, NC, NJ, NY, OH, VA, WV, and the entire Mid-Atlantic Region. We also offer implementation, service, and support for Accellos One Warehouse Management Systems in: PA, DC, DE, MD, NC, NJ, NY, OH, VA, WV, and the entire Mid-Atlantic Region.

As experienced SCM, WMS and ERP consultants and value added resellers (VARs), we provide start to finish services for the solutions we represent Microsoft Dynamics NAV for Distribution and Manufacturing, Accellos Warehouse Management System (WMS), Server virtualization, open source VOIP phone systems and infrastructure and security. We provide services that cover process analysis, implementation, training, security and networking. Naturally, we also provide full ongoing support for years after implementation to help our clients succeed. We are your one stop shop for your business technology needs.

Contact us for additional information by clicking HERE or...

Phone: 717.704.1000

Another version of this article was previously posted by iCepts Technology Group, Inc.- A Pennsylvania Microsoft Dynamics NAV Reseller on July 27th,2016

ERP Implementation Partner Selection Tips and eBook

ERP Implementation Partner Selection Tips and eBook

How to Find the Right ERP Implementation Partner Working with the right ERP implementation partner will be critical to the success of your ERP...

Read More
Are You Outgrowing Your ERP Manufacturing Software?

Are You Outgrowing Your ERP Manufacturing Software?

3 Tips for Finding the Best ERP Manufacturing Software for Your Business If your manufacturing company is outgrowing your software the search for...

Read More
5 Ways a New Manufacturing ERP Helps Your Business Grow

5 Ways a New Manufacturing ERP Helps Your Business Grow

Grow Your Business with a New Manufacturing ERP Solution The economy is constantly changing, and manufacturing companies have been hit hard by recent...

Read More