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An investigation of the effects of storage assignment and picker routing on the occurrence of picker blocking in manual picker-to-parts warehouses

Torsten Franzke (Chair of Management and Logistics, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany)
Eric H. Grosse (Chair of Production and Supply Chain Management, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany)
Christoph H. Glock (Chair of Production and Supply Chain Management, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany)
Ralf Elbert (Chair of Management and Logistics, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany)

The International Journal of Logistics Management

ISSN: 0957-4093

Article publication date: 14 August 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Order picking is one of the most costly logistics processes in warehouses. As a result, the optimization of order picking processes has received an increased attention in recent years. One potential source for improving order picking is the reduction of picker blocking. The purpose of this paper is to investigate picker blocking under different storage assignment and order picker-route combinations and evaluate its effects on the performance of manual order picking processes.

Design/methodology/approach

This study develops an agent-based simulation model (ABS) for order picking in a rectangular warehouse. By employing an ABS, we are able to study the behaviour of individual order pickers and their interactions with the environment.

Findings

The simulation model determines shortest mean throughput times when the same routing policy is assigned to all order pickers. In addition, it evaluates the efficiency of alternative routing policies–storage assignment combinations.

Research limitations/implications

The paper implies that ABS is well-suited for further investigations in the field of picker blocking, for example, with respect to the individual behaviour of agents.

Practical implications

Based on the results of this paper, warehouse managers can choose an appropriate routing policy that best matches their storage assignment policy and the number of order pickers employed.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to comprehensively study the effects of different combinations of order picker routing and storage assignment policies on the occurrence of picker blocking.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the guest editor Peter McCullen and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions that helped to improve an earlier version of this paper.

Citation

Franzke, T., Grosse, E.H., Glock, C.H. and Elbert, R. (2017), "An investigation of the effects of storage assignment and picker routing on the occurrence of picker blocking in manual picker-to-parts warehouses", The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 841-863. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJLM-04-2016-0095

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited