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The Definition and Benefits of Put Wall Systems

A 3PL evaluation project.

Reduce Errors and Increase Efficiency with a Put Wall System

The ever-increasing number of online orders and heightened customer expectations has led to the order fulfillment process becoming more and more complicated. When it costs nearly six times more to gain a new customer than to retain a current one, retailers cannot afford a misstep in the shipping process. Customers are placing more and more orders for more and more items. Retailers must be prepared to fulfill each of these orders, even when parts of the order are uncommon. Along the same lines, this SKU proliferation has led to the diversification of order and product profiles. Organizations must be prepared to ship small items and large items, in large or small quantities. These factors and more have led to retailers integrating put walls into their fulfillment execution strategy in order to reduce errors and increase efficiency.

What is a put wall?

A put wall is a system of shelves that are dedicated to order consolidation and designed to improve picking productivity and order fulfillment accuracy. This goods-to-person order fulfillment process streamlines the supply chain by reducing walking to and from inventory storage and by reducing the number of people required to handle the daily flow of orders. Items are batch-picked upstream and brought to the operator at the put wall. They have many individual cabinets or cubbies which represent orders. The operator scans the item and distributes the items in the appropriate cubby using a light notification system. When the cubby contains a completed order a light on the reverse side illuminates and the packer knows that cubby is ready to be packed.

Put wall systems provide many key benefits for distributors:

  • Scalable and reconfigurable as your business needs evolve
  • Paperless
  • Real-time visibility and control
  • 100% scanning quality check
  • Ergonomic design
  • Take up minimal space

Put walls are an alternative order picking process. They are a centralized, flexible point for picking and order consolidation. This system allows for combining lines from multiple customer orders for simultaneous order fulfillment. Put walls are ideal for e-commerce and other direct to consumer (DTC) sales channel order fulfillment and are suitable for wholesale and B2B small order fulfillment.

Benefits and Advantages of Put Walls

Scalable, modular and moveable

Put walls can grow or shrink as the distribution center needs. During the peak season when many more individual orders are being fulfilled, the put wall setup can expand to meet the distributor’s needs. During other times, the put wall can shrink back down or be moved to a different area of the distribution center. Recent advances even allow for the put wall shelving to be modified to be larger or smaller as needed.

Increased employee productivity

Put walls allow for greater productivity because operators are more stationary. They can fulfill more orders more accurately and their movements are more ergonomic. Put zones may be turned off and multiple lights may be used so that more than one operator can operate in the same zone. Cycle times are also improved with put walls because more than one put wall can be operating at once which results in less time to get a large number of orders completed.

Increased order accuracy

Scanning items as they are sorted, and relying on a put to light system allows for 100% in-line quality check which maximizes order accuracy rates.

Minimal barriers to entry

While put walls can be used in conjunction with specialized materials handling equipment such as conveyors or an AS/RS, they are not required. A put wall system can be implemented with the bare minimum of static shelving, put lights, and RF scanners. This makes put wall implementation very cost effective.

100% paperless

Because put walls rely on scanning and a lighting system, there is no paper. This provides several different benefits: less potential for trash in the distribution center, less confusion for operators, and provides a sustainable solution for the distribution center.

Maximized use of space

Put walls result in excellent physical order staging and consolidated order density. A typical system contains dozens of cubbies in a small area and the cubbies are constantly cycled through as orders are completed and they are emptied so they may be packed.

Learn more about enVista’s facility design services.

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