Forward Picking: The Daily Definition
What is forward picking?
Forward picking is a picking process where inventory is typically replenished from reserve or bulk storage. This method is used for both piece and case order picking. It’s the space in your warehouse that is most convenient to pick from, and inventory moves in and out frequently as stock is replenished. It is sometimes referred to as “the warehouse within the warehouse” due to its importance to overall warehouse productivity.
Think of your forward picking space as ground zero for your warehouse. It’s a hot spot for activity and traffic. Other picking methods, such as wave picking or zone picking, typically involve more physical movement. This is because the SKUs involved in these methods are not consolidated into one heavily used area.
One common iteration for forward-pick areas is the ground floor of a pallet rack. Forklifts have quick, easy access to this area, which makes both picking and replenishing efficient activities.
Our two cents:
Curating a space for forward picking in your warehouse is a science in and of itself. Don’t just find a big enough empty space and choose that as your picking station — carefully consider every pertinent factor. The physical space used for forward picking is some of the most important real estate in your warehouse. Consider which SKUs you’ll store here, and how many of them. Are you going to store an equal number of each SKU, or a “same-time supply” number?
While you’re at it, take a look at the rest of your warehouse setup. How are you organizing your inventory? Can you defend your choices, and do you have the data to back your defenses up? If you need some help determining your best warehouse organization strategy, check out our ebook. There’s lots of useful insight in there to help guide your methods.