Using Pick to Light System to Optimize Order Picking Productivity

Pick to Light System and Pick-to-Light technology provide fast, accurate, paperless picking by allowing operators to choose the most efficient picking path. Company management is constantly under increasing pressure to protect margins by reducing operating expenses. To that end, one of the challenges faced in warehousing and distribution operations is optimizing order picking productivity, since order picking is widely recognized as the most labor-intensive and costly component of the process. The combination of facility layout, technology and routing strategy play a major role in picking productivity.

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Common technologies employed to improve order picking productivity is the Pick-to-Light System, which minimizes operator travel and improves accuracy; reducing operator errors. A Pick-to-Light system utilizes a series of lights placed above each storage slot in a picking operation such as carton flow or static shelving. Operators typically employ handheld bar code scanners to scan the bar code on a carton or tote, representing a unique order. When an order is scanned, lights above the appropriate storage slots illuminate to indicate the required pick locations and quantity of each item required for the order. Each pick is confirmed when the illuminated button is depressed by the operator. When no more lights are illuminated, picking is complete for that pick zone.

Picking zones can be set up to further boost productivity utilizing a team approach by passing orders from zone to zone using conveyors or hand carts. It is a simple to use system, requires little training, and is modular, providing easy retrofit and system upgrade capabilities. Software packages interface with host business systems or Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) to provide real-time monitoring of order pick times and product locations. These benefits of a Pick-to-Light system make it a proven and cost effective solution to reducing operating expenses and increasing order picking efficiency in today’s warehousing operations.

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