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Designing An Automated Pack Station to Keep Up with Growing Demand at an Online Supplements Company

An eCommerce Supplements Company needed a new warehouse and a new process in order to keep up with growing demand. Working with a Consultant and PSI, the Company uncovered their true bottleneck and installed an automated process to optimize order throughput.

The Situation

An eCommerce Supplements Company had outgrown their old facility where they manufactured and shipped out their products. At this old facility, the entire order picking and packing process was done completely manually. The whole process took about 5 minutes per order and they were currently filling 600 orders per day with a 10-person team (five order pickers, five packers). Demand was growing and the Company was receiving close to 1,000 orders per day – and steadily increasing. It was clear that their current process was not able to keep up.

Knowing they had to build a brand-new facility, the Company engaged a Consultant who recommended that PSI could help them optimize their process. Initial meetings with the Company focused on optimizing the order picking process, because they believed that picking orders was slowing them down. PSI and the Company’s project team timed the order picking process and discovered it took approximately 1 minute to pick an individual order. Then they timed the packing process and found that it took 4 minutes to pack up an order and get it ready for shipping. These studies made it clear that optimizing the picking process would only cause greater strain and bottlenecks at the packing step.

The Recommendation

Rather than optimize the picking operations, PSI focused on optimizing and automating their pack stations. Presentation was extremely important so there still had to be a manual portion to make sure the products were presented appropriately in the box, a step that took roughly 40 seconds per order. PSI designed the following pack station solution for the Company:

Flow chart showing the process

The Results

Automating the process meant that the packing process took 1 minute, and the Company could get four times the output than before. With the existing team of 10, the Company had the capacity to meet demands of up to 2,400 orders per day and the system could easily be scaled up to match growing demand.

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