Order Picking in Material Handling

What is order picking?

Order picking is the process of pulling items from inventory to fill a customer order. It is seen as the most labour intensive activity within a warehouse. It consists in taking and collecting articles in a specified quantity before shipment to satisfy customers’ orders. It is a basic warehousing process and has an important influence on supply chain’s productivity. This makes order picking one of the most controlled logistic processes.

Order picking is an important aspect within any warehouse. It forms as much as 55% of operation costs within any distribution centre, compared to shipping, storage and receiving stages and has a direct impact on customer satisfaction levels. The ability to both quickly and accurately process customer orders is now an essential part of doing business. This article will help you determine ways you can improve upon order picking processes, as well as, how to choose the right method of order picking for your warehouse.

Ways to improve upon order picking processes within your warehouse


Use ABC item analysis

If 10% of your items completely satisfy 50% of your orders, then these are “A” items. Set up a short pick line for these items and place slower moving “B” items in the next closest area and the slowest “C” moving items farthest away.

Ensure 100% product availability

Design your replacement system so that the picker does not have to face an empty pick slot that is waiting for replacement. Keep a specified minimum level of inventory in each location and replace items that have fallen below the minimum level each day.

Use of barcodes to verify products before you pick

If your order picking system verifies every step of the picking process twice, you are more likely to catch mistakes, preferably whilst the picker is still in front of the pick slot where the correction is easily made.

Minimise product movement

Regardless of what order picking method a company uses, it is important to identify and record the number of times an item is handled from the time it is ordered to the time it leaves the facility. The pick process should allow enough accuracy that further repacking, Quality Control checking, or shipping checking is not required.

Try different storage strategies

Different storage strategies can boost efficiency within a warehouse. For example, slotting may improve storage intensity, reduce accidents or product damage, reduce congestion and improve retrieval times. Review storage strategies on a regular basis in order to align your practices with seasonal demand.

Re-evaluate your routing practices

The layout of your storage spaces can have a negative impact on your routing practices. Setting out specific zones for items that are commonly ordered together, product categories, business types, or order size can enhance travel times.

Different order picking methods

There are many order picking methods. These include:

  • Zone picking: Each order picker is assigned a specific zone and will only realise order picking within this zone.
  • Batch picking: An order picker is assigned and picks multiple orders simultaneously, minimising trips to each location.
  • Wave picking: A variation of zone and batch picking. Rather than orders moving from one zone to the next for picking, all zones are picked at the same time and the items are later sorted and consolidated into individual orders/shipments

How to choose the correct order picking method for your warehouse

It is essential to implement an order picking method that is right for your business and customers. To determine which will work for you, it is important to consider the following:

  • The type of operation you have
  • Characteristics of product being handled
  • Total number of transactions and orders
  • Picks per order
  • Quantity of pick
  • Picks per SKU
  • Total number of SKUs
  • Whether you are handling piece pick, case pick, or full-pallet loads

Sometimes a combination of picking methods is needed to handle diverse product and order characteristics.

As the importance of order picking grows, so does the importance placed upon accuracy and timeliness. However, in order to improve upon order picking processes within your warehouse, you must choose an order picking method that is suitable for your business.

MICRON Engineering is the market leader in Southern Africa for the supply of forklift attachments and other material handling equipment. MICRON Engineering has achieved this coverage by actively designing, manufacturing and sourcing the best products and solutions the world has to offer.

Apart from our diverse and excellent equipment, MICRON Engineering has realised the key to success is focused on creating a sophisticated after-sales support network, ensuring high levels of uptime during the contract life of your product. With service centres countrywide and engineering backup in Johannesburg and Durban, we are able to offer technical support in all the major South African centres.

Forklifts – Benefits Of One Sided (Un)Loading


One-sided (un)loading is mainly used on counterbalanced lift trucks. These double cylinder telescopic forks are ideal for one-sided loading and unloading of trucks, trains etc. and can perform under demanding circumstances.  The forklift travels a considerably shorter distance, which results in faster operations and is also safer as the forklift remains in plain view of any person in the vicinity. This application not only saves time it also reduces fuel usage because less distance is travelled. Another advantage is that the required space for the loading and unloading operation is smaller as the forklift does not have to drive around the combo.

  • Less fuel consumption
  • Less vehicle movements
  • Almost 30% faster than traditional loading – unloading
  • More power than single range telescopic forks.
  • Robust cross section complying to more demanding conditions.
  • Improved safety as forklift remains in sight.
  • Increased internal storage space.
  • Faster load-/unloading time.

For more information on the above Contact Us and we will gladly assist.

What to Look for in a Machine Spare Parts Provider

What to Look for in a Machine Spare Parts Provider

Wearable parts that make up part of your production or materials handling machinery will take damage from wear and tear as production marches on, which can lead them to fail unexpectedly, essentially causing a delay in production and unscheduled downtime. For most companies, this is a factor that can make or break their operations, which makes sourcing a supplier of readily available spare parts a priority for managers and owners who make use of this kind of machinery. Unfortunately, it can be a little difficult to find the supplier who is right for you and your business, so to help you along, here are some characteristics to look out for.

Speedy and versatile turnaround times

It is important to understand that when parts are due for replacement, that there is often no time to wait for them to become available through OEMs, and the necessary delivery times will vary depending on your needs. You might be able to wait up to 6 weeks without a problem, or you may require replacement within a couple of days; so be sure to source a supplier who can reliably meet your needs for flexible turnaround times.

Without a reliable supplier that that can meet expected delivery dates, you will have to put up with a lot of downtime which could prove exceptionally costly for your business.

Able to make design modifications

The ability to reverse engineer designs on replacement parts from OEMs, and being able to make adjustments to the parts that make them more appropriate for the functions of your business, is a crucial operation for most worthwhile replacement parts manufacturers and suppliers. Manufacturers with these expertise will be able to provide you with replacement parts even if they don’t stock them, and will be able to make any specific alteration to them that are needed to ensure that they allow your machinery to continue production admirably.

They strive to build a strong customer relationship

Since you will likely be using the spare parts provider of your choice to source spares on a regular basis, it is essential to go for a company that pays attention to building a strong customer relationship with you, and therefor comes to know exactly what schedules and specifications to work with when supplying you with spares.

Contact Micron Engineering

For further details on sourcing spare parts for your forklift trucks and materials handling machinery, be sure to contact a supplier that you can rely on. Give Micron Engineering for information on our available services and parts, or visit our website today to find out more.

Are Picking Errors Costing You Money?

Picking errors create unnecessary cost: lost or returned goods, stock differences, credit notes, phone calls, emails back and forth. Watch our video and see how a RAVAS scale on your order pick trucks signals picking errors and enables you to correct these errors immediately, at the pick location, with the least possible cost. Realize immediate cost savings!

Are picking errors costing you money


The weighing scale integrated in your order pick trucks continuously measures the weight on the forks. The scale display is connected to your warehouse management system via wireless. After each pick, the WMS interrogates the scale for the weight increase on the forks. It compares the actual weight on the forks with the combined weight that the articles in the order line should have. If the picker has picked the wrong article, or an incorrect number of articles, the WMS sends an error message to the picker next to the truck, and the picker corrects his mistake. Picking errors are corrected where the cost is lowest: at the pick location.

Benefits & advantages

  • Cost reduction from eliminating errors
  • Cost reduction from cancelling final inspections
  • Performance of each individual picker monitored
  • Improved supply chain control
  • Documented quality of your services

Download brochure from Ravas and learn all about it!

The Importance of Selecting the Right Forklift Attachment

The Right Forklift Attachment

There are many businesses in and around Johannesburg that make frequent use of forklifts to handle heavy or hazardous loads. Unfortunately, not many of them understand the full importance of carefully planning handling activities down to the letter, especially as far as selecting the right attachment for the job is concerned. The fast-paced nature of business can make it all too tempting to take shortcuts or to improvise where you can. But what is a small saving in time and money really worth to you?

To help you avoid any unnecessary disasters due to using the wrong forklift attachment, here are a few crucial reasons why you should always have the right tools for the job.

You risk damaging goods

Having the incorrect attachment poses a risk, firstly, to the materials with which it is being used to handle. Even minor accidents could result in expensive losses in stock as the result of damages caused by an avoidable accident.

If you are handling materials for clients, the risk goes beyond simple materials. Botching a job due to inappropriate machinery will get you nothing but an angry client and a bad reputation.

You might put your equipment in danger

Forklifts are remarkably expensive to buy, and can be pretty costly to repair as well. By fitting it with an attachment that is not suitable to either the task, environment or vehicle could well result in damages being suffered by the forklift itself, or by related equipment.

For those who own their own machinery, replacements and repairs can be expensive enough. But for those who are renting machinery, good luck talking your way out of that one.

You could cause injury or death in personnel

Perhaps the most grievous concern with regards to using incorrect forklift attachments surrounds the risks they pose to personnel, either in your employ, as a benefactor or as someone touring your workspace; though generally when such accidents occur, it is the operator of the forklift that comes off the worst.

When working with heavy machinery and bulky loads, accidents are around every corner, and having inappropriate machinery will do nothing to avoid them.

Serious injuries, dismemberments and deaths happen more often than they should in workshops, storehouses and factory floors, and in many cases, they could be avoided by simply investing in the right equipment.

Contact Micron Engineering for assistance

There is no doubting that selecting the right attachment for your forklifts is essential for maintaining workplace safety and minimising damages or downtime. For assistance with selecting and obtaining the right forklift attachment for the tasks of your business, be sure to contact a consultant from Micron Engineering today, or take a look at our website for further information.

Hydraulic Forklift Attachments Can Greatly Improve A Forklifts Capabilities

Hydraulic Forklift Attachments

With engineering being one of the biggest industries within South Africa and many other countries, it is always necessary to stay ahead of the many competitors and challenges you will face. The use of forklift attachments can vastly improve the performance of the machine allowing for better productivity.

There are a wide variety of hydraulic forklift attachments that, when paired with the proper forklift, can greatly aid in improving the motorized machine’s capabilities. Forklifts, in general, are designed for lifting and carrying of heavy loads via the pronged devices at their front ends.

Micron Engineering has on offered a variety of hydraulic attachments, all of which exceed relevant Australian Standards for safety and operating capacities.

An interesting member of the hydraulic forklift attachments family is the fork tine positioner. Forklift positioners themselves allow for easy handling of various pallet sizes and configurations. Micron Engineering offer tine positioners in three different classes, 2, 3 and 4.

As hydraulic forklift attachments go, tine positioners add a great deal of versatility to one’s forklift capabilities. Quality positioners are always easy to install and connect. If your business handles many pallets, there’s also a high degree of certainty you’ll require other hydraulic attachments such as a heavy duty drum rotator. Models on offer also exceed the relevant Australian Standard for capacity and safety, with the ability to handle a 1000kg load.

As your business grows, and with it, a need for more forklift capacity, so too will your need to handle a wider variety of load configurations or activities requiring various hydraulic forklift attachments.

Micron Engineering offer hydraulic dirt bucket attachments, in fact. A bucket attached to your forklift allows it to act as a loader without a need to actually obtain one. Several other hydraulic attachments can extend your forklift’s capabilities to an even greater degree. All attachments delivered come with instruction manuals and certificates of compliance where required.

Micron Engineering

Visit us today for all your engineering requirements and take your business and its systems to the next level.

Maintaining Safety in the Factory

Maintaining Safety in the Factory

A factory environment can be an incredibly hazardous space, especially if it is mismanaged, under-supplied or makes use of a workforce that is scantly trained in terms of their responsibility to safety. It is up to the business to ensure that their factory spaces go about their daily operations in as safe a manner as possible. Failing to do so can result in serious injuries, loss of life, extensive downtime and an array of massive expenses to the business in terms of law-suits, settlements and equipment repairs.

For this reason, here are a couple of essential tips that will help you ensure that your factory floor is a consistently productive, efficient and most importantly, safe environment to work in.

Employee Safety Training

First off, you can’t expect your employees to adhere to safety protocols when they haven’t been properly instructed as to what they are. It is the employer’s responsibility (and is in fact in their best interest) to ensure that each and every member of the factory floor knows the ins and outs of working safely, so that there is no excuse for not exercising mandatory precautions such as the proper use of safety equipment.

Also, important, is each employee’s ability to operate whatever equipment or machinery they may need to complete their job. They need to be aware of the risks to injury that their equipment may pose and how to use such devices without causing injury or damage.

Many providers of industrial equipment insist on such training, and provide it as part of their after-sales services; an offer that should never be opted out of if it can be helped.

The Right Tools for the Job

A bad workman might blame his tools, but an injured one more often than not has a genuine legitimate gripe. Ensuring that your employees are outfitted with high quality equipment that is appropriate for the tasks that they perform is essential not only for ensuring quality and efficiency, but will also drastically limit the amount of injuries occurring on the workplace. The right tools, and equipment will ensure that they can work with precision, which in many cases means they can work more safely.

Equally important, is to ensure that each employee is outfitted with the correct safety gear for their role on the factory floor. Spares should always be kept in case any of them fail, and equipment should constantly be checked for damages or flaws.

Ensure, as well, to keep all of your equipment properly maintained to avoid any breakdowns or failures which could possibly lead to injuries.

When it comes to equipment, investing in appropriate, high quality machinery, safety gears and tools is essential, and so too is keeping it maintained.

Call Micron Engineering for Details

If you would like to know more about investing in high quality industrial machinery with reliable after-sales services and training programmes, feel free to contact Micron Engineering today for more details on our products, equipment and services.

Most Common Types of Forklift Attachments

Most Common Types of Forklift Attachments

Choosing the right attachment for the right application can increase productivity of your logistics handling dramatically. Which attachment should you choose? There are hundreds of different configurations and designs available on the market. This article will look at some of the most common forklift attachments to help you make the right choice:

Side Shifters

Side Shifters are one of the most common attachments used today; most forklifts come with this attachment as standard. This attachment allows you to shift the forks (tynes) from side to side allowing for small adjustments to be made by the operator; enabling alignment with pallets without manoeuvring the entire forklift.

Fork Positioners

Fork Positioners are another very common attachment used today. The attachment allows forklift tynes to be moved closer or further away from each other hydraulically. Allowing for faster and more effective handling of different size pallets and odd size objects, this enables the operator to align forks with pallets more accurately and significantly faster.

Paper Roll Clamps

Paper Roll Clamps handle different sized paper rolls for industries such as newspaper printing, paper manufacturing, tissue manufacturing & other paper industry products. Paper Roll Clamps can be ordered with automatic pressure controls; which allow allocation of correct pressure without damaging/crushing the paper roll. A number of different types of gripping pads are also available depending on the paper you’re handling.

Push/Pull or Slip Sheeter

Push/Pull attachments are used for the handling of loads that have slip sheets instead of pallets. They push to unload and pull to load using slip sheets.

Slip sheets are most popular for bagged cement, bagged seed and grain, packaged food, dairy products, fruit and corrugated box handling. The unique aspect about this attachment is that instead of using pallets, it is substituted by an inexpensive slip sheet which decreases maintenance costs, storage area and damaged stock due to old pallets.

Carton Clamp

Carton clamps are designed to handle large rectangular or square shaped objects that don’t require a pallet; most commonly used by beverage, appliance and electronic applications. But they can also be used to handle fragile goods when used with automatic pressure sensing systems. Common configurations for the attachment are horizontal and vertical depending on the application requirements.

Single-Double Pallet Handlers

Single-Double Pallet Handlers transport single or two pallets side by side. Spreading the four forks allows handling of two pallets side by side. When brought together, the four forks convert into two forks ready for single pallet handling. Forks are hydraulically or manually positioned. Generally used by high turnover production and warehousing/shipping industries, such as bottling, brewing & soft drink/can industries.


MICRON Engineering is the market leader in Southern Africa for the supply of forklift attachments and other material handling equipment. MICRON Engineering has achieved this coverage by actively designing, manufacturing and sourcing the best products and solutions the world has to offer. World class products are supplied by partners in Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Canada, USA and China.