What exactly is Pick-to-Light and how important is a Pick-to-Light system in a picking warehouse? The best information, details and tips from experts

Here we explain Pick-to-Light in detail, show you the hardware and software you need for the Pick-to-Light system and give you the best information, tips and tricks from the absolute experts in paperless picking. Exclusively for you!

Pick-to-Light
Pick-to-Light is used for paperless picking of goods and consists of many compartment displays mounted on storage compartments. They help the order picker to pick the goods from the storage compartment quickly and safely. The pick is confirmed with the acknowledgement button and automatically booked in the warehouse management system.

What exactly is Pick-to-Light?

Pick-to-Light , consisting of hardware and software, belongs to the paperless picking methods, whereby the picker does his work at the storage compartment with the help of compartment displays with light indicator, quantity display and acknowledgement button. This means that the light signals can completely replace the pick list, makingPick-to-Light paperless picking. The removal of the goods is confirmed directly with an acknowledgement button and the stock change is automatically posted.

Pick-to-Light definition

Pick-to-Light (roughly "picking by light") is one of the "paperless" picking methods. Instead of a picking list, the items and quantities to be picked are transmitted to the picker via a compartment display located directly at the picking compartment.

Source: Pick-to-Light - Wikipedia

Pick-to-Light Advantages

  1. The picker has his hands free when picking (freedom of movement).
  2. Optimum operator guidance (also on the picking vehicle).
  3. Great flexibility due to the wireless rail system. Easy mounting of the hardware.
  4. Quick adjustment.
  5. Very low error rate during picking.
  6. Very low susceptibility to errors due to the use of proven and error-free technology (automatic acknowledgement possible).
  7. Increased efficiency and productivity through optimized process (pick and put).
  8. Little training required.

Pick-to-Light Disadvantages

  1. Relatively high acquisition costs.
  2. Difficult to use with free-standing pallets (special construction required).

Pick-to-Light System

A Pick-to-Light system (also referred to as a pick-to-light system) consists of compartment displays, controllers, terminals, mounting rails and cabling. In addition, there are various devices that support the employee in the picking process, e.g. barcode scanners, RFID readers, scales, etc. The picker must quickly find the display at the storage location, read off the quantity and confirm the removal with the acknowledgement button. Ergonomics is particularly important for the employee and for his order picking.  

These trade ads will be used a lot in 2021:

PTF-L-6 - Pick-to-Light Module without display. Only LED and button.

Compartment display without display for the quantity.
(Automotive or replenishment). Details for PTF-L-6.


PTF-3N-4 Pick-to-Light Display with three-digit display and keys

Standard compartment display for many applications with numerical input of the quantity. PTF-3N-4details


PTF-ZCTRL2 innovative Pick-to-Light Conroller and display with touch screen

Zone display with touch screen.
PTF-CTRL2details



In this amount you will find the most important information about Pick-to-Light. You will correctly understand the technical details and correctly use the Pick-to-Light system.

Why is the picking system so special and what are the failure rates? What distinguishes the system from other picking methods? How is a modern pick-to-light constructed? Where is it best used? We give you the answer to all these questions here.


Many years of experience in paperless order picking

Logistics and Production 2021

Pick-to-Light


Pick-to-Light Hardware

The hardware is modular and very flexible. The mounting at each extraction point is very simple. The mode of operation is clearly structured. The light signals are clear to identify the goods to be picked.

  • Controller (communication and power supply)
  • Mounting rails with integrated BUS
  • Compartment displays with signal lamp (2 x 7 colours), piece count display and an acknowledgement button

Almost all displays are equipped with several additional keys to correct faults (plus, minus and F key for special functions). Some compartment displays have only signal lamp and acknowledgement button. The hardware is very robust and tested.

Pick-to-Light System
Pick-to-Light System with compartment displays on a mounting rail requires NO cables. Just click and go. A BUS is integrated in the mounting rail. The modules can be moved and relocated very easily. The mounting rail is connected to the controllers with a 4-wire cable.

Options:

  • Sensor for automatic acknowledgement monitors access to the storage compartment (access monitoring).
  • Digital I/O for receiving and transmitting external signals.
  • Beep sound

The Pick-to-Light hardware is controlled by the LUCA software in real time. The connection to the warehouse management system, material flow and conveyor technology is made via the LUCA-Server, which controls the entire processes. The system is very flexible.

Pick-to-Light Sensor

The Pick-to-Light sensor has an important new function in withdrawal confirmation. A sensor can be optionally installed above or below the compartment display. The sensor monitors the accesses and automatically confirms the actions. However, the goods to be picked cannot be counted with it. The function of the automatic control is based on a light sensor. The installation of the sensors must be precisely coordinated. The sensor as a light sensor can measure 15-20 cm without a reflection mirror. With a mirror, the sensor can even be used at 80-100 cm.

The pick list

Like all paperless picking methods, the Pick-to-Light system (also often referred to as pick-to-light) processes an electronic pick list. The data is transmitted by the warehouse management system. The picking system supports the picker in his work to minimize his walking distances and picking errors and to optimize his performance at the workstation. The order throughput times are optimal due to the short search time (light signals directly at the storage compartment). Customer orders are picked and processed quickly. The training time for the pickers is minimal. 

How does Pick-to-Light work ?

Pick-to-Light works by lighting up compartment indicators, with which the quantity to be picked is displayed directly on the storage compartment and the pick is confirmed directly with the acknowledgement button.

Start and the article removal

The system activates the requested displays in the appropriate storage area according to the pick list. The LED lights (indicator lights) and the quantity displays are switched on in the appropriate light colour. The functions are active and picking can begin. The employee (also called picker ) reads the quantity to be picked from the quantity display directly at the pick point (compartment). Additional information is shown on the alphanumeric displays.

Acknowledgement of the compartment display

The picker confirms the picked quantity from the storage bin at the acknowledgement button, which causes the compartment display to go out. The confirmation records the withdrawal (immediate correction of the stocks - automatic stock change). The sequence does not matter to the system. However, if the pick list defines a certain sequence, the displays are switched on one after the other.

Once the picker has picked all items, the picking process is in principle complete and the stock changes are reported back. The confirmation (acknowledgement) takes place immediately. The shipping units (cartons, pallets, pallet cages, etc.) can be prepared for shipping.

Correction of the withdrawal quantity (plus/minus keys)

If there are not enough products in the rack(container, pallet cage, pallet, etc.), the order picker cannot perform the confirmation. The operator can correct the error on the order with the correction buttons on the quantity display and confirm it. The new actual quantity is confirmed (quantity corrections). The function key (F-key) gives the picker additional possibilities for a permanent inventory. The operation is very intuitive and requires almost no training of the pickers.

The frequency of the correction is strongly dependent on the quality of the merchandise management. The recording of the goods receipt and the correct storage of the goods (replenishment) play a decisive role. Some merchandise management or warehouse management systems still leave a lot to be desired. The KBS keys are very well integrated.

You can find more detailed information on the procedure in the article: Pick-to-Light Procedure

Where is Pick-to-Light used?

The following industries have been using our system for many years:

  • eCommerce: picking warehouse, replenishment, sorting station in shipping warehouse
  • Automotive: Batch processing and sequencing of baskets and JIT racks for assembly lines
  • Production: assembly stations, set formation and machine placement

The system is very versatile and is intended to support the picker and avoid picking errors. The area of application is large. The modules themselves only serve as output and input devices. The entire logic of the control, as well as the process, takes place in our LUCA-Server .

How good is the system?

Performance and quality are opposing parameters. As a result, the more performance is expected, the less quality the picker can deliver and error rates increase. Increasing performance and quality at the same time is not easy with any of the picking methods. Faster and cheaper. That is the goal. The solution possibility of the control software is not everything.

As the leading picking method, Pick-to-Light is currently providing us with an excellent example of how performance and quality can clearly increase rapidly and operator guidance is improved.

The services

The performance increases up to 40%. Due to the targeted support of the accesses to the storage compartment, the quality also increases by more than 15%. This minimizes picking errors. When using sensors, the quality increases by another approx. 10%.

The ROI calculation

When planning the system, it is essential to consider cost-effectiveness and increased efficiency. However, so does the order picker itself. The system requires a relatively large amount of hardware, which makes the procurement of the equipment not exactly cheap.

An ROI calculation must show whether the investment is profitable for the company. Get in touch with us. We will help you make the calculations and explain the installation. If the demand for power is not particularly high and the storage areas large, we also supply other technologies as an alternative.

Add or replace compartment displays

A new compartment display is clicked into the aluminium profile in the system using Quick-Click. With a small tool (spatula), the mounted displays can be removed from the profiles again very easily according to the instruction. The displays can be configured via a web interface. Immediately afterwards, picking can continue. For this, the application (middleware) does not have to be restarted. Failures of the compartment displays are hardly known. 

In the event of a system extension, the new displays register in the system fully automatically. Via the configuration, the preset designation is flexibly adapted to the desired designation (e.g. storage location) and does not interfere during picking. Immediately afterwards, the pick location can be activated for the next picking orders. 

The exchange of the modules is also very simple. Only the physical addresses of the replaced displays are exchanged. The rest happens automatically. The assignment to the zones is also configured via the software. This means that the picker has almost no break. The exchange has nothing to do with the stock change. The learning time is minimal.

Conclusion

In logistics and production, the pick-to-light system is one of the best and most widespread picking methods. The picker intuitively follows the light signals and quantity displays at the pick location, thus minimizing his search time (operator guidance through the orders). Numeric and alphanumeric quantity displays show the number of items. The correction keys help in the event of stock errors.

Simple mounting, robust acknowledgement buttons and the flexible conversion options make the system very attractive. Simple connection to any warehouse management system via the LUCA-Server brings enormous advantages. The system can also support permanent inventory very well. Optimal operator guidance through customer orders is the goal.

However, in warehouses with many storage compartments, the price is quite high. Therefore, it makes sense to use the system for A-items and support it with other technologies for B- and C-items. Put-to-Light can also be used on the vehicle with WLAN in order to optimize the picking times, travel times, etc. during picking.

FAQ

  • What hardware does Pick-to-Light need ?

    For a Pick-to-Light system, the first thing you need is the Pick-to-Light compartment displays, which are mounted at each storage location. They contain LED lights, quantity displays and several buttons. Another system component you need is the Pick-to-Light controller, which is used to supply power and data to the compartment displays. The last thing to add is the mounting rails, terminals and cables.
    If you want to know more details about this, visit: Pick-to-Light from experts [2021].

  • What interface does Pick-to-Light have to SAP?

    The SAP interface is not implemented directly with the Pick-to-Light hardware, but via a server. The server communicates on the one hand with the Pick-to-Light compartment displays and on the other hand with the higher-level system, e.g. SAP or warehouse management. The connection via a server and can be flexibly designed with RFC, TCP/IP, databases, etc.. Read more about this at: Pick-to-Light Picking

  • What input do I need to prepare for a Pick-to-Light request?

    The following entries are required for a quotation:
    - Number and types of Pick-to-Light compartment displays (see: Pick-to-Light Hardware)
    - Number of individual mounting rails for attaching the compartment displays
    - Total length of the mounting rails
    - Layout and functional description
    - Which host system is planned?
    If you are not sure, please contact us. We will be happy to advise you free of charge.

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