Optimizing a dynamic order-picking process
This research studies the problem of batching orders in a dynamic, finite-horizon environment to minimize order tardiness and overtime costs of the pickers. The problem introduces the following trade-off: at every period, the picker has to decide whether to go on a tour and pick the accumulated orders, or to wait for more orders to arrive. By waiting, the picker risks higher tardiness of existing orders on the account of lower tardiness of future orders. We use a Markov decision process (MDP) based approach to set an optimal decision making policy. In order to evaluate the potential improvement of the proposed approach in practice, we compare the optimal policy with two naïve heuristics: (1) “Go on tour immediately after an order arrives”, and, (2) “Wait as long as the current orders can be picked and supplied on time”. The optimal policy shows a considerable improvement over the naïve heuristics, in the range of 7–99%, where the specific values depend on the picking process parameters. We have found that one measure, the slack percentage of the picking process, associated with the difference between the promised lead time and the single item picking time, predicts quite accurately the cost reduction generated by the optimal policy. Since relatively small-scale problems could be solved by the optimal algorithm, a heuristic was developed, based on the structure and properties of the optimal solutions. Numerical results show that the proposed heuristic, MDP-H, outperforms the naïve heuristics in all experiments. As compared to the optimal solution, MDP-H provides close to optimal results for a slack of up to 40%.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Gibson, David R. & Sharp, Gunter P., 1992. "Order batching procedures," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 57-67, April.
- Roodbergen, Kees Jan & de Koster, Rene, 2001. "Routing order pickers in a warehouse with a middle aisle," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 32-43, August.
- Jane, Chin-Chia & Laih, Yih-Wenn, 2005. "A clustering algorithm for item assignment in a synchronized zone order picking system," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 166(2), pages 489-496, October.
- Petersen, Charles G. & Aase, Gerald, 2004. "A comparison of picking, storage, and routing policies in manual order picking," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 11-19, November.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ejores:v:219:y:2012:i:2:p:335-346. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.