Warehouse Tip of the Month: In Line Prekitting – Carts vs. Conveyors

Whether you’re a LightSpeed customer or not, if you are prekitting, you have some efficiency decisions to make. At the core of prekitting is the act of picking what a machine or market needs and putting it into a designated tote. How you accomplish that can vary and two of the most common ways to accomplish that is by pushing a cart or using a conveyor. Both can be effective, but which way is faster?

LightSpeed customers who use FastTrack (our pick-to-light system) must first determine what they want concerning accountability.

Do you want a specific individual to be held accountable for the successful prekitting of a machine or do you want a team to be held accountable?

From a pure speed standpoint, the fastest way to prekit is the “Pass the Bucket” method on a conveyor. If you have 3 people working the pick line, each one of them will work a specific section and once they complete the prekit in their section, they “pass” it to the next section where a different employee does the same – all the way down the line until complete. It makes sense that this is the fastest way because no one has to walk any further than their assigned section, however with this method, you now have 3 employees who handled a prekit. Which one made the mistake?

The objective of prekitting is to pick as much as you can as quickly as you can without making any mistakes. If you have 16’ of prekit line that you cover you’re going to pick more with fewer steps than if you have to pick the entire line and walk 48’.

On the other hand, conveyors can create their own set of problems. Most conveyors in vending are 12” to 18” in width and they are placed in front of the pick line. It creates an additional barrier that a picker must reach over to grab an item on the top of the pick line. If you have short employees in the warehouse, then they wind up spending a lot of time on their tippy toes reaching for product. This can lead to potential injury which can result in loss of time.

Additionally, the conveyor is usually set at 25” off the ground which means you can’t have a shelf lower than that because you can’t pick off it.

When you potentially lose a carton flow bed off each section, you wind up needing more square footage to store the same number of SKU’s, thus creating a longer line and increased number of steps employees must walk.

Both methods have pros and cons. If you are looking to hold a team accountable and want the highest pick rates you can achieve, then the conveyor offers the best option. If your employees are on the shorter side or you want to hold individuals accountable for their prekits, then pushing a cart with a tote is a better option.

No matter which option you choose, both will function better with LightSpeed. We didn’t invent prekitting, we just made it better.