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Waveless Picking Is A Key Capability For Ecommerce Fulfillment



Waveless picking (also sometimes referred to as order streaming) is a method used by warehouses and distribution centers to continuously release customer orders for fulfillment. It is an essential capability for consumer goods manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers that need to ship growing volumes of ecommerce orders.

The term waveless picking is used as a contrast to wave picking, which is the traditional method for processing large wholesale or store replenishment orders. Many DCs struggle to adapt to rising ecommerce order volumes alongside wholesale orders because their ERP and warehouse management systems (WMS) only support wave-based picking.

This is a growing challenge for distribution centers that are experiencing an unexpected increase in ecommerce orders. Warehouse optimization solutions lets DCs implement waveless picking with a legacy WMS or ERP. This ensures DC can efficiently ship ecommerce orders alongside wholesale and other B2B orders.

What is Wave Picking?

Wave picking is a common method of creating discrete groupings of orders (waves) that are released in sequence (wave 1 followed by wave 2, etc.) for picking throughout a shift or work day. It is an efficient way for DCs to organize and process large business-to-business orders and to manage DC throughput. Each wave of work typically represents one or more hours’ worth of work for picking, packing and shipping, based on the capacity constraints of the DC (for example, the number of loading doors, sorter capacity, etc.). Waving is a standard capability in most warehouse management systems.

Waves can be created in a WMS (or other software system) based on pre-defined rules, or managers can manually create waves in the system. The objective is to achieve a desired volume and flow of work based on order volume, truck departures, replenishment schedules, available labor, material handling equipment capacity, and other factors. A WMS may allocate inventory based on the waves. In some cases the system will generate replenishment tasks to ensure sufficient inventory is available to fill the orders.

Waves Define Picking Sequences

In many cases, waves of work are created at the start of a shift or work day based on all available orders at the time. In addition to creating the waves, many WMS systems will also break down each wave into discrete picking assignments. For example, the WMS may apply rules to define which products and orders will be picked on every pallet, in every tote, and every cart throughout the day.

In traditional wave-based picking, waves are released and processed in sequence, and once a wave is released it cannot be changed. In some facilities, the first wave must be completed before the next one can be released. This leads to an uneven distribution of work throughout a facility, meaning some workers will be waiting for work (or “stacking” work for future waves in their work area), while workers in other zones complete the current wave. In many DCs, however, multiple waves can be in process for picking at the same time – reducing the problem of uneven work distribution. Workers in one area may start picking a second wave before a first wave is fully completed in other picking zones.

Given the Covid-19 induced surge in ecommerce, many DCs that ship B2B orders are now facing unexpected volumes of direct-to-consumer orders that have shorter delivery time-frames. Filling these direct-to-consumer orders in a traditional wave-based picking system brings a new set of challenges.

Ecommerce Fulfillment Requires Waveless Picking

Ecommerce orders need to be turned around quickly, often the same day they are placed or even within a one to four hour window to meet next day or two-day delivery requirements. Wave picking systems are not designed to manage a constant flow of incoming orders with super short shipping deadlines.

Companies that cannot ship ecommerce orders quickly risk losing sales. A survey conducted by Digital Commerce 360/Bizrate Insights found that 44% of consumers in the U.S do not complete an online order if it will not arrive when they want it. Traditional DC operations need to adapt their current picking, packing and shipping processes to respond to the challenge of fulfilling a rising volume of ecommerce orders.

As noted above, in traditional wave-based picking, waves are often created at the start of a shift and released in sequence. Once released, the first waves are picked prior to subsequent waves, and the waves cannot be changed once they are released. As a result, an ecommerce order received at 2 pm cannot be added to an in-process wave.

At best, this incoming ecommerce order could be added to the next wave that has not yet been released. In practice, this 2pm order might be released in a wave at 2:15, but it will still sit behind orders in previous waves. Those prior waves could represent several hours worth of work. Even worse, some wave-based picking systems cannot adjust a wave plan that has already been completed. In those cases, any orders received today would have to be added to the next day’s waving plan and schedule.

Waveless picking eliminates the constraints of “waves” and works well for any operation that needs to handle a continuous stream of incoming orders with short delivery timeframes.


What kind of automation do you need for your packaging line?




One of the primary factors in determining your approach to packaging line automation is to take a look at your existing warehouse environment. Packaging environments differ based on many variables such as the type of business, warehouse layout, and the number and sizes of products to be shipped. As examples, a manufacturing facility may produce products in batches, while an e-commerce fulfillment center may require shipments of single- and multi-item orders. Other facilities may require packaging of small or similar-sized items, while others may have large, heavy and/or odd-shaped products to ship. Each would benefit from automation, but each requires a different automatic packaging solution to achieve the best results.

Since packaging processes can be carried out in a number of different ways based on operational requirements, the best way to optimize your warehouse is to fully assess and understand your existing workflow. With the assistance of an Automated Packaging Professional, you can look at your packaging line holistically to design a customizable solution that matches your product flow, from shelves to shipping.

Although no two packaging environments are alike, every packaging process includes some form of data integration, product transport, carton production, product protection, carton erect, carton packing, sealing, marking, sortation, and business intelligence. See our previous blog post to learn more about this.On Demand Packaging® solutions can enhance processes and flow by integrating with one or more of these 10 features, depending on the workflow environment. The following examples illustrate different packaging environments and the benefits of a customized Packsize system in each.

Automated Box Last

“Box Last” is a highly-automated packaging flow designed for manufacturing or distribution facilities that need to pick and package single- or multi-item orders. While utilizing three Packsize machine systems and an integrated software platform, this packaging process produces a right-sized box-last, for the right product, in the right sequence, every time. All 10 features of the packaging process are integrated in this solution.

This process employs conveyance automation (and also works for non-conveyable or oversized items, from the picking of products). Each product is scanned for dimensional data and placed on warehouse racking. Sortation occurs at the scanner placed on the conveyor before the three shipping trucks.

In this example, the M1 packages large, non-conveyable orders, the X4 handles medium conveyable single- or multi-item orders, and the X7 packages smaller, conveyable, single- or multi-item orders.

A large outdoor retailer has taken big steps to fine-tune packaging in its distribution centers by employing the Right-sized Packaging on Demand “box last” process, integrating several automated, small-footprint packaging machines to produce custom boxes for every order. Prior to utilizing this process, the company stocked an inventory of boxes, in varying sizes, at several pack stations, wasting time, money, and efficiency. Right-sized packaging lowered their dimensional charges, reduced the cost of materials and labor, all while increasing throughput.

  • Customize your solution to match your product flow from shelves to shipping
  • Right-sized box is produced last for the right product in the right sequence, every time
  • Integration points across your facility will know where to route the order
  • Packsize equipment will package products based on key attributes, cut times, and delivery methods

Automated Box First

“Box First” is another highly-automated packaging solution that pairs boxes automatically with an order ready to be packed. Each product is scanned for dimensional data and placed on warehouse racking. Items are packed in the box as the box is conveyed through the warehouse racking. Sortation occurs at the scanner placed on the conveyor before the three shipping trucks.

Customize your On Demand Packaging solution to enhance processes and flow

  • Packsize equipment enables a right-sized box to be created and routed to the appropriate areas of your distribution center
  • Boxes are automatically paired with an order ready to be packed
  • Seamless communication built on the PackNet® software foundation enhances flow and provides order analytics

Leading cake decoration supplier DecoPack utilizes a box-first On Demand Packaging solution after realizing the need to increase automation to support higher shipping volumes to its customers. Prior to automating, the company would pick orders into a tote, transport the tote to packing stations and then take the items out to pack into a pre-selected carton chosen from a large box inventory. This process required several workers in pick lines and large amounts of corrugated and void fill. Right-sized packaging provided the automation solution they needed, while reducing time, touch, and travel in their packaging and shipping process.

Automated Manufacturing / Assembly Environment

In a manufacturing environment products may be produced in batches (the same item is produced for a certain production run), or by a purchase order, down to a single unit at a time. Products may be large, oddly-shaped, or heavy. This process illustrates a Packsize machine accommodating either production environment. Depending on the variation of products produced, packaging needs, takt time required, and other variables, On Demand Packaging solutions can be customized to improve throughput and reduce costs.

For customers seeking higher automation for large, odd-shaped, and/or heavy products

  • Integrates seamlessly into your existing assembly line
  • Deliver the perfect fitting box to your packstation
  • Automation helps to reduce labor and improve consistency in your packaging process

Forward-thinking furniture manufacturer Legacy Cabinets sought to reduce empty space and improve protection when shipping its cabinetry. However, the initial attempt at right-sizing required a substantially large box inventory. This required significant time, costs, and management of 500 box SKUs. Legacy Cabinet’s inventory now consists of only five different sizes of z-Fold®.

Multi-Machine Manufacturing Flow

This packaging solution features less automation and integration than the other manufacturing environment references. Products are transported to Packsize machines for custom box production then packed and shipped by an employee. This process can be integrated with packaging software to scan a product for dimensional data as it is unpackaged and placed on warehouse racking.

Can be customized for any workflow

  • Product dimensions are entered into the machine either with a barcode scan, manual scan, or your WMS
  • z-Fold® will be fed into the machine and cut into a right-sized box
  • Equipped for various box sizes and designs
  • PackNet coordinates all elements of the manufacturing flow

For more than 20 years, Central Carolina Products relied on a traditional store-and-retrieve box inventory system to ship custom auto parts and other injection-molded products. Waiting for box vendor quotes and orders added several days to its lead time. After incorporating an On Demand Packaging solution, they can now create 100 custom boxes for 100 different parts at no extra cost and with no additional lead time.

Custom Batch Production

In batch production, an automated packaging machine creates batches of boxes, eliminating the need for a box inventory. In the illustration below, it is assumed that the production run is generated by an integrated software system, which means that this is higher on the integration scale, even though the packaging process flow is lower on the automation scale.

Eliminate the dependency on box vendors for stock boxes and custom orders

  • Quickly produce the exact number of boxes you need in the right size and design
  • Optimized to produce any custom box for your operations—either in batch or single-piece flow productions

Packaging is typically the final part of any manufacturing or order fulfillment process, and often, the last to be optimized. The process solutions above emphasize the role a packaging line plays in achieving business objectives, increased throughput, reduced labor, and cost savings. Just as no two warehouse environments are alike, automation is not a one-size-fits-all remedy, but rather a customizable and flexible solution designed to streamline warehouse operations, increase sustainability, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction.

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Optimal solutions for pump applications!



Active and present in various industries for more than 49 years, I-MAK is a global player of the power transmission industry. With more than 1.000.000 References and hundred of different product lines, I-MAK propose unique solutions to a large scale of applications, machineries and sectors. 

Pumps and transfer technologies represent a key application in a large range of industries. I-MAK propose unique solutions for gear and lube pump machineries, available with a large range of options, the IR Series (Helical gearboxes) is perfectly adapted to these demanding applications. Available in 12 different series ranging from 90nm to 18.000 nm, the IR Series cover a large part of pump manufacturer’s needs. Available with input shaft or direct motor coupling, the gearbox is easy to mount with standard foot configuration. These features are a key advantage for end users that can easily dismount the gearboxes for maintenance and limit the downtime or system lockdowns. 

Particularly present in oil and gas industries, I-MAK is actively taking part in various major projects in the middle east ( UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia) and is a preferred suppliers for thousands of crude oil producers, refineries and engineering companies. The company is also serving the US oil industry with the key localization of SIPCO-IMAK in Houston, Texas. With a dedicated team of experts and support team providing quick and quality assistance to the North America market. All the product range of the brand are available in ATEX configuration, providing a reinforced security to match with the sector standards and needs of technological partners. 

I-MAK is also active in the food and beverage industry, the new products features added in last years are key addition to the existing products line. Available in special paint and coating, the gearboxes are easy to wash and limit material deposit, rust and contribute to the maintenance of high hygienic standard at on customer’s sites.  With optional food grade oil and resistance to high temperature and aggressive environment, the oil leakage risks and impact are limited to the minimum. 

The wide network of I-MAK offices, distributors and technical centers offers a unique geographical coverage that assure a quick on site assistance in most of the region around world. For areas that cannot be reached customers have access to the unique 24h/7 days assistance line of I-MAK, with the guarantee to speak with a service engineer or operation department at any time of the day! Available in 6 different language this service focus on solution first, keeping the customer activities on flow!

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3D CAD configurator by CADENAS small belt conveyor product line



MTF Technik Hardy Schürfeld GmbH & Co. KG has expanded its online product configurator based on eCATALOGsolutions technology by CADENAS GmbH. In addition to the Multi-Tech belt conveyors, customers and interested parties can now also configure straight small belt conveyor belts of the I-Tech type according to their needs. This type is mainly used in confined spaces, such as in machines or tool shafts. Due to these space limitations and the complexity of the product, it is therefore even more important for planners and engineers to have complete and reliable 3D CAD data available right from the start. MTF Technik’s configurator provides this data free of charge in more than 150 common CAD formats – for more planning reliability as well as faster quotation and time-to-market.

Easy configuration

The intuitive configurator is a great help in customizing the I-Tech belt conveyor and its features, such as the dimensions, feeding and discharge heights, belt specifications, drive unit, base frame and some extras. Users are guided step by step through each stage of the configuration. A plausibility check is also carried out in parallel with each input. This ensures that only actually orderable variants can be configured. If needed, a help function provides additional support for each input field.

As soon as the desired belt conveyor has been built, customers receive a 2D preview drawing and a high-quality 3D CAD model that can be rotated and cropped as desired. The product data can then be easily downloaded in the preferred CAD format and as a PDF data sheet including all relevant dimensions and specifications. The data sheet can also be forwarded directly to MTF Technik in order to quickly receive a detailed offer for a specific selection. Once configurations have been made, they can be saved to an individual account and easily modified for further applications.

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