Flexible Services and Manufacturing Journal

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 425–441 | Cite as

Order batching in a bucket brigade order picking system considering picker blocking

  • Soondo HongEmail author
  • Andrew L. Johnson
  • Brett A. Peters


Bucket brigade order picking improves operational productivity by balancing workloads among pickers with a minimal level of managerial planning and oversight. However, due to variability and uncertainty of the pick locations within a particular order or batch, pickers can encounter blocking delays and thus lose productivity. This study formulates a model to quantify blocking delays and develops a control model to reduce blocking in bucket brigade order picking systems. The Indexed Batching Model for Bucket brigades (IBMB) has indexed batching constraints for generating batch alternatives, bucket brigade picker blocking constraints for quantifying blocking delay, and release-time updating constraints for progressively connecting the batching results with blocking quantification. The IBMB minimizes total retrieval time and improves picker utilization from 2 to 9 % across diverse and practical order picking situations while maintaining the static Work-In-Process. We note that modeling the separation of retrieved batches into orders still remains a challenge.


Bucket brigade order picking Picker blocking Mixed Integer Programming (Dynamic) Control model 



The authors thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers of the manuscript for their valuable suggestions and comments. This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (2014R1A1A2053550).


  1. Bartholdi JJ, Eisenstein DD (1996) Bucket brigades: a self-organizing order-picking system for a warehouse. Technical report, Georgia TechGoogle Scholar
  2. Bartholdi JJ, Eisenstein DD (1996) A production line that balances itself. Oper Res 44(1):21–34CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartholdi JJ, Eisenstein DD (2005) Using bucket brigades to migrate from craft manufacturing to assembly lines. Manuf Serv Oper Manag 7(2):121–129Google Scholar
  4. De Koster RBM, Le-Duc T, Roodbergen KJ (2007) Design and control of warehouse order picking: a literature review. Eur J Oper Res 182(2):481–501CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  5. Frazelle E (2002) World-class warehousing and material handling, 1st edn. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Hong S (2014) Two-worker blocking congestion model with walk speed m in a no-passing circular passage system. Eur J Oper Res 235(3):687–696MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  7. Hong S, Johnson AL, Peters BA (2012a) Batch picking in narrow-aisle order picking systems with consideration for picker blocking. Eur J Oper Res 221(3):557–570CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  8. Hong S, Johnson AL, Peters BA (2012b) Large-scale order batching in parallel-aisle picking systems. IIE Trans 44(2):88–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hong S, Johnson AL, Peters BA (2015) Quantifying picker blocking in a bucket brigade order picking system. Int J Prod Econ. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpe.2015.04.012
  10. Koo PH (2009) The use of bucket brigades in zone order picking systems. OR Spectr 31(4):759–774MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  11. Napolitano M (2013) 2013 warehouse dc operations survey: multiple paths, same goal. Supply Chain Manag Rev 17(6):48–58Google Scholar
  12. Tompkins JA, Bozer Y, Tanchoco J (2003) Facilities planning, 3rd edn. Wiley, HobokenGoogle Scholar
  13. Yu M, De Koster RBM (2009) The impact of order batching and picking area zoning on order picking system performance. Eur J Oper Res 198(2):480–490CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Soondo Hong
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrew L. Johnson
    • 2
  • Brett A. Peters
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Industrial EngineeringPusan National UniversityBusanSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Industrial and Systems EngineeringTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  3. 3.Department of Industrial and Manufacturing EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin - MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA

Personalised recommendations