What Is Case Picking?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Case picking is an order fulfillment technique where workers or robots pull whole cases for shipment. For companies that sell exclusively or primarily by the case, this allows workers to fill orders from the warehouse by pulling whole cases to meet the need. Some also offer split case picking, where workers open cases to fill orders when customer do not want whole cases. This approach can be used for shipments of food products, consumer goods, and a variety of other products and supplies.


In a company that uses case picking, products are laid out in a warehouse in an order that makes sense for employees and supervisors. They may be grouped by type, frequency of ordering, product number, or other codes. Some companies leave products in strategic piles while others use shelving and racking to control their inventory. With an automated case picking system there may also be conveyors to move products around the warehouse as needed.

Workers can use several different techniques when they pull cases for an order. One option is to fill one order at a time. The worker gets a list of items and moves through the warehouse to pull them all off the shelves. Forklifts and other tools may be necessary for heavy cases, or the worker could use a conveyor system to handle the goods as she pulls them. This method can be time consuming and is not suitable for facilities with high order volume.

Batch picking is another approach that can be much more efficient. The worker receives a batch of orders to fill and handles them all at once. As he moves through the warehouse, he pulls goods for the multiple orders. Supervisors may group orders by contents or type to save time; a worker might get a batch of orders with products that all come from the same location in the warehouse, for example.

Wave picking is another form of case picking. In this approach, a supervisor collects a group of orders and determines how much of each product he needs to fulfill all of them at once. He directs individual employees to pull the necessary numbers of each item and then distributes the cases into the various orders. This method can be helpful for rapid order fulfillment, and it is also easy to automate. The supervisor can direct a robot to pull the cases she needs to fill the orders, and it can send them to her along a conveyor belt.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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