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An incredibly important and unavoidable part of working in a warehouse is order picking. It directly affects customer satisfaction and makes up a significant portion of operation costs. If you want to keep your business running smoothly and your customers happy, then you need to be able to accurately and quickly pick and process orders. And if you find yourself regularly needing to pull just an item or two, pulling down an entire pallet is inefficient. In these scenarios, an order picker is superior to the more traditional forklift.
What is an Order Picker?
An order picker is a type of forklift that has the ability to handle various items and loads, from smaller individual products to bulky items and pallets. It can move loads up and down, as well as side to side. Its versatile design makes it ideal for environments that have a high volume of orders for single items in addition to bulk orders or large items. With an order picker, lift and lower speeds are faster, as is travel time. The result is reduced pick time. If you're in a fast paced environment that moves a lot of products, then an order picker may be the best bet for your business.
Order Picker Safety
An order picker that is improperly handled can be incredibly dangerous, so it is important that certain guidelines are followed to avoid safety hazards. There are certain precautions that must be taken when operating an order picker. For example, if the picker is higher than three feet from the ground, you must remember to lower it to below two feet before moving it to another area, otherwise the stability of the load can be thrown off, possibly tipping the picker over. You must also bring the machine to a complete stop before raising it again. Order pickers are designed with limit switches (which should never be tampered with) that prevent them from driving at height.
It is also important to consider any potential hazards that may be in your work area so that you can ensure the safest possible travel route for your order picker. Obstructions or debris can cause accidents that can lead to damaged equipment and merchandise or employee injuries. A good way to to create a safe travel path is to practice traffic management and make people aware of the areas where the order picker will be operating. Having another employee control the flow of traffic, as well as setting up barriers or signs, are great ways to avoid hazards.
A final, though no less important, safety requirement of operating an order picker is the safety harness. The harness must be worn as long as the picker is being operated and, combined with a closed handrail while moving, can prevent falls.
How Much Does an Order Picker Cost?
The price of order pickers vary based on any additional accessories, manufacturer, and type (diesel, electric, etc.). Also remember that different vendors will have different prices.
- Hyster R30XMS3 Order Picker Forklift, 3,000 lbs lift capacity, 24V electric engine, HySense Continuous Height Sensing, polyurethane solid tires, 242" lift height, price range: $4,000 to $10,000
- Toyota 7BPUE15 Order Picker Forklift, 3,000 lbs lift capacity, DC hydraulic control system, 24V electric engine, polyurethane solid tires, 240" lift height, price range: $5,000 to $9,000
- Crown RC 5500 Order Picker Forklift, 3,000 lbs lift capacity, 245" lift height, 36V electric engine, polyurethane solid tires, Access 1,2,3 Comprehensive System Control, price range: $6,000 to $15,000
- Komatsu FR50 Order Picker Forklift, 244" lift height, 3,500 lbs lift capacity, hydraulic control system, 24V electric engine, cushion rubber and polyurethane solid tires, price range: $3,500 to $6,000
- Doosan LEKF 20 Order Picker Forklift, 245" lift height, 2,000 lbs lift capacity, "Quick Pick" buttons allow the operator to move the truck forwards or backwards when walking beside the machine without having to get into the operator compartment, rubber or vulkollan polyurethane solid tires, electric engine, price range: $20,000 to $25,000
Used order pickers are also available and typically cost about half the price of a new unit (the unit's hours of use play a large role in pricing). However, while you will pay less, you need to make sure that it is in proper working order and fits all of your needs.
The Right Choice
The main benefit of an order picker is that is helps to increase productivity by increasing the ease and speed of picking an order. They provide employees with a way to grab single items when necessary and reduce labor costs, while helping to maintain customer satisfaction. They are often the preferable choice over forklifts in certain warehouse environments.