Pick-to-Light uses light devices mounted at item locations on flow rack, shelving, workstations or other storage media to guide operators to the correct product locations and quantities required to fill an order. Also commonly called pick-by-light or light-directed picking, in the right application Pick-to-Light systems increase pick rate productivity and order accuracy by reducing the walking and reading associated with paper-based or even other semi-automated picking approaches.
The key to Pick-to-Light is its simplicity. Operators scan a bar code license plate on a tote or shipping container to launch an order in their zone. Illuminated LED’s direct pickers to the right product location, and display the required unit quantity. After picking all pieces the operator confirms the completed activity, often by pressing a button on the device. They then proceed to the next illuminated location and repeat the process until all the necessary picks in their area are finished.
The versatility of Pick-to-Light offers itself to many effective applications including order picking, parts picking, sortation, kitting, consolidation and assembly. PTL works best when applied to operations where a relatively small number of SKUs (approx. 20%) account for a high percentage of daily order volume (approx.80%). Classic Pick-to-Light in a Zone Picking approach is best when these higher velocity SKUs are grouped together in a moderately dense space, so walk time reduction is most effective. However there are interesting Pick-to-Light configurations that can effectively automate medium and low velocity pick areas too and achieve strong benefits. Some operations are fulfilling full case quantities using Pick-to-Light in case pick to belt applications.
Most leading Pick-to-Light products can also integrate with other automated systems such as A-Frames, carousels, RF and Voice picking allowing users to apply the best tool set to different areas and tasks unique to their operation. Also an increasing number or discrete manufacturers are adopting Pick-to-Light to error-proof a variety of assembly tasks and add quality on their end of the supply chain.
Pick-to-Light has been adopted by a wide spectrum of vertical industries including: