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Master of Agribusiness

Comparative Analysis of Errors in Pre-Pick and Bulk Order Volumes at Frito-Lay

Jamaa Muhsin Abdi Ali, Shakopee, Minn., defended his thesis, “Comparative Analysis of Errors in Pre-Pick and Bulk Order Volumes at Frito-Lay,” on November 1, 2012. Ali is the Executive Group Leader at the Target Regional Distribution Center in Fridley, Minn. He graduated from Kansas State University in December with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB) degree. 

As a former employee at Frito-Lay, and a current manager at a Target distribution center, Ali has had the opportunity to observe different types of order-picking systems. Regardless of the system used, errors in fulfilling orders occur. He conducted a study into filling processes and how order volumes affect the levels of errors.

“Errors in order-picking systems at distribution centers have adverse effects on performance because they contribute to lost time, resources and customer loyalty.  Therefore, it is imperative that organizations reduce errors as much as possible,” Ali said. “Identifying and managing errors in a distribution center is critical for a firm’s long-term sustained competitiveness. While it’s economically impossible to attain zero error in any system, cost-to-error reduction and returns from those reductions needs to be explored.”

The study examined two types of order-picking technologies: pre-pick and bulk. The results revealed more errors were committed on larger volume orders regardless of which method was used to fill orders. This suggests management should focus on identifying the causes behind the errors, possibly including worker fatigue, facility layout or improper training, to address solutions.

Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics and Ali’s thesis advisor, said, “Errors happen because of human, technological or environmental issues/challenges. Understanding how the scale of operations affects the errors that occur in an order fulfillment facility sheds light on errors in any area of similar operations. Muhsin’s work makes a contribution toward understanding this issue.”