Finding a Needle in a Haystack: The Effects of Searching and Learning on Pick-Worker Performance

41 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2016 Last revised: 7 Feb 2018

See all articles by Robert Batt

Robert Batt

University of Wisconsin - Madison - School of Business

Santiago Gallino

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School, Operations, Information and Decisions Department

Date Written: September 20, 2017

Abstract

The rise in online and multichannel retailing has pushed retailers to give increased attention to their order fulfillment operations. We study "chaotic storage" fulfillment systems in which dissimilar items are stored together in a single location. This necessitates a searching task as part of the picking process, which has not been previously studied. We show that pick times increase by as much as 16% as the searching task becomes more difficult. However, the deleterious effect of searching decreases with pick worker experience. Using simulation, we show that pick times can be improved by incorporating distance, bin density, and picker experience into pick assignments and pick routing. Through properly combining the details of the task and the workers, order fulfillment productivity can be increased by approximately 5%.

Keywords: Retail operations, Warehouse operations, Learning curve, Task assignment, Empirical studies

Suggested Citation

Batt, Robert and Gallino, Santiago, Finding a Needle in a Haystack: The Effects of Searching and Learning on Pick-Worker Performance (September 20, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2822303 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2822303

Robert Batt

University of Wisconsin - Madison - School of Business ( email )

975 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706
United States

Santiago Gallino (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School, Operations, Information and Decisions Department ( email )

3730 Walnut Street
558 & 559 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-5340
United States

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