The picking process itself and the associated picking time are usually a conglomerate of personnel- and cost-intensive processes, whose complexity depends on the business processes of the company. The picking time is the time required to complete a picking order. The picking time usually starts with the transfer of the picking order to the picker and ends with the transfer to the order collection point or to a conveyor system.

The picking time consists of the base time, picking time and the travel time (Transport- und Lagerlogistik, 8th Edition, page 399); in addition, there is the so-called dead time and the distribution time, which are both distributed between the base and picking time. The base time averages 27 percent, the picking time 25 percent and the travel time 48 percent per order. The final report on the IGF project 18139N Pick-by-Local-Light / FML has shown similar results.

Picking times equal picking performance

The time required for picking is part of the picking performance. The picking performance is defined by the number of picked orders per time unit, which in turn is specified in picking units per hour, containers per hour or items per hour.

Picking time formula

Apart from the base time, all portions of the picking time depend on the number of items in a picking request. The following formula is therefore used to calculate the picking time, in which n represents the number of items in the picking request:

The faster an order is picked, the cheaper the overall product. Therefore, the aim is always to reduce the picking time.

Important: Picking is defined in the VDI guideline 3590 (VDI94).


The picking time shares are of different sizes for the different picking types (Pick-by-Scan, Pick-by-Light, Pick-by-Vision or Pick-by-Robot). If different types are in use, they are added together. This results in the picking performance, which is measured in picks per hour. Order structure, the picking system used, the capacity of staging units and shipping units, as well as the range of products, are all factors that influence picking performance and time. Please note the following: The shorter the picking time, the cheaper the respective product or material can be offered on the market for production (Warehouse Management – 4th, revised edition, page 40).

Teaser image: Les-Cunliffe / Fotolia

Also available in Deutsch (German)