Enhancing Warehouse Performance by Efficient Order Picking

By Mengfei Yu


This thesis studies order picking in warehouses. Order picking, the process of retrieval products from their storage locations to fill customer orders, is regarded as the most critical operation in a warehouse. Using stochastic modelling, we develop a model to estimate order picking system performance on various design alternatives and operating policies. The model is fast, flexible, and sufficiently accurate for practical purposes. The thesis introduces a concept of Dynamic Storage. In a Dynamic Storage System (DSS), orders are picked in batches and only those products needed for the current pick batch are retrieved from a reserve area and are stored in the pick area, just in time. Through analytical and simulation models, we demonstrate a DSS can substantially improve order throughput and reduce labour cost simultaneously over conventional order picking systems, where all the products required during a pick shift are stored in the pick area. The thesis also studies an internal distribution process at a flower auction company. Based on simulation and optimization models, we propose ways to reduce congestion and improve order lead time.

About Mengfei Yu

Mengfei Yu was born in 1973 in Shanghai. He graduated from Hohai University, China in 1994, with a Bachelor degree of Electrical Engineering and then worked as an Electrical Engineer in Wuxi Power Supply Company. In the autumn of 2001, he resumed his academic life at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, where he obtained his master degrees on Electrical Engineering and Industrial Engineering (specialized in Transportation and Logistics) in July 2003. In March 2004, Mengfei Yu started his PhD research project at the Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM) under the supervision of Professor René de Koster. His research areas focus on warehousing and material handling. He presented his research results in international conferences and workshops in Asia, Europe and North America. One of his papers co-authored with Professor de Koster won the second best student paper award in the International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Systems Management, 2007. His research results have been accepted for publications in the Journal of the Operational Research Society and IIE transactions. Mengfei Yu is currently working as a consultant on supply chain management at Buck Consultants International, the Netherlands.

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