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4 methods for creating picking waves to optimize your WM operations

by The Tip Doctor

November 18, 2010

This tip is excerpted from the article, Enhance Warehouse Visibility with the Picking Wave Monitor, posted August 2008 in the SCM Expert knowledgebase. In the full article, Joseph Lucca of IBM outlines the benefits of wave picks and introduces the picking wave monitor tool in SAP ERP ECC 5.0. In this tip, learn about the first step in this process: creating wave picks.

Using wave picks, you can perform detailed planning for picking by creating work packages, which is accomplished through the create wave picks functionality. This function creates picking waves and defines them as groups in your SAP system. A group number is a grouping of individual outbound deliveries that you plan to pick at the same time.

Create Picking Waves

Follow menu path Logis tics Execution Outbound Processes>Goods Issue for Outbound Delivery>Picking>Wave Picks>Create to create picking waves (Figure 1). This functionality allows you to select deliveries to be grouped together into a wave. You can create picking waves according to delivery time, shipment number, a combination of the shipment number and time, or via the outbound delivery monitor. 


Method 1: Select deliveries according to delivery time. In this method, you can select deliveries to group together based on the individual delivery’s planned goods issue date and time, which is stored in the delivery header. You typically use this method if you do not use shipment numbers to group outbound deliveries.

Method 2: Select deliveries according to shipment number. This is a straightforward method in which you simply identify the shipment numbers you want to consolidate into a group. However, you must know the shipment numbers you plan to use because there are no other selection criteria. This method is commonly used to create groups since most organizations already group their deliveries into shipment numbers. You can have one shipment number correspond to one group number, or you can select multiple shipment numbers to relate to one group number.

Method 3: Select deliveries according to shipment number and time. This option is similar to method two, but it includes additional selection criteria such as the shipment start loading time and shipment end loading time. Both settings are already defined in the shipment. This method helps if you’ve already group ed your deliveries into shipments and pre-defined times for the start or end (cut-off) loading time. Using this method, you can select shipments with similar cut-off times for the start or end of loading, which allows you to schedule the required associated picking tasks backwards.

Method 4: Select deliveries via the outbound delivery monitor. This method is relevant for selecting individual deliveries that are not associated with a shipment number. The functionality is similar to method one, although it offers one key advantage — the user interface is through the outbound delivery monitor, which some end users find to be more user-friendly.

Grouping and Scheduling 

In many cases, you’ve already grouped deliveries that should be shipped at the same time using a shipment number in your SAP system.

A common scenario is a group of deliveries to be loaded into a single shipping container or trailer. Say shipment number 1050 is an outbound shipment that should be loaded into a single trailer. The trailer has a departure time of 2:00 PM. Based on your organization’s normal processing times, you might plan to begin the trailer loading at 1:00 PM. This means your picking tasks must be completed by 12:30 PM to allow for quality checking and final packing. A normal load usually takes about one hour to pick, so picking must start no later than 11:30 AM.  I’ll use this example to walk you through the wave picking process.

Shipment 1050 is comprised of three individual deliveries: 80000166, 80000168, and 80000169. You decide to create a wave pick for the 2:00 PM outbound load so that the picking tasks are completed together and on time. In this example, you already know the shipment number for which you plan to create a wave pick, so you elect to use method two (create wave picks according to sh ipment number).

The first step is to create a group number — also referred to as a wave number — which links the three deliveries in the shipment together. Follow menu path Logistics Execution>Outbound Processes>Goods Issue for Outbound Delivery>Picking>Wave Picks>Create>According to Shipment to generate the screen shown in Figure 2.

This transaction creates a group (wave) number for the shipment you are trying to pick. Enter the warehouse number and shipment number on this screen, then click on the execute icon to display the deliveries to be grouped together. Click on the save icon to generate the wave number. 

After you create the group number, you can then create the transfer orders (TOs), which are the picking tasks associated with this group. You could create the TOs individually by delivery as you normally do, even if you were not using wave picks. Alternately, you can create the TOs with reference to the group number. Again, this is no different than creating the TOs with reference to the delivery numbers. The same stock removal strategies and logic apply whether you use a picking wave or not.

For more advice on warehouse management and other SCM features, read articles from the SCM Expert knowledgebase

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