Order batching and time efficiency in kit preparation
Journal article, 2015
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to determine whether man-hour efficiency of picking is affected by the use of batch preparation, compared to preparation of one kit at a time. This paper focuses on small kit preparation areas.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper is based on two experiments that were performed at a vehicle assembly plant and then analysed quantitatively.
Findings – The results provide a strong indication of the advantages associated with batch preparation, in terms of man-hour efficiency.
Practical implications – The fact that the effects identified during the experiments are substantial, over 20 per cent reduction of average time per picked component in Experiment 1 and 7 per cent in Experiment 2, indicates that the option of batch picking holds potentials for large cost reduction and should be considered when kit preparation systems are designed.
Originality/value – Limited research has dealt with the design of kit preparation systems, thus leaving considerable knowledge gaps. Previous research dealing with batch picking focuses on other environments than kitting and on large picking areas where batching can reduce walking distances. In contrast, the current paper focuses on small picking areas, which are common in industrial kitting applications. This paper provides a considerable contribution by demonstrating improvements in time efficiency that batch preparation can offer to small picking areas in addition to larger areas. The discussion also provides a basis for future research, which could focus on aspects other than time efficiency, such as the quality of kit preparation, and variables that might moderate the effect of batching.