Pick-by-Light & Pick-to-Light

Order picking with Pick-to-Light without paper

Pick-by-Light und (engl.) Pick-to-Light sind moderne, lichtbasierte Kommissionierverfahren. Dem Kommissionierer werden die zu pickende Artikel und deren Menge nicht über eine Pickliste, sondern direkt über Fachanzeigen am Entnahmefächern angezeigt.

Pick to Light
Pick to Light

Imagine picking, assembly or production being fully automated and without humans. Yes, of course, that already exists. But have you thought about the cost of purchasing and maintaining such systems? Who can really afford the fully automated systems? So it's not that simple after all. Pick-to-Light and Pick-to-Light are a good compromise between full automation and the manual activities of order pickers in the way they work.

Unser großer Pick-by-Light und Pick-to-Light Ratgeber 2022 soll Ihnen dabei helfen, die passende Lösung für Sie zu finden. Hierzu haben wir die wichtigsten Arten von Pick-by-Light- und Pick-to-Light-Systemen sowie ihre Vor- und Nachteile zusammengestellt. Außerdem haben wir für Sie weitere sehr nützliche Fakten zusammengetragen. Mit diesen umfangreichen Informationen wollen wir Ihnen die Kaufentscheidung so einfach wie möglich machen. Viel Spaß!

The most important thing in a nutshell

  • Pick-to-Light and Pick-to-Light are paperless picking systems with tray displays and acknowledgement buttons. The functionality of both systems is identical. Pick-to-Light is used more as a term in German-speaking regions. The term Pick-to-Light is very popular in English-speaking regions.
  • Pick-by-Light gibt es in verschiedenen Ausführungen. Hierbei wird die Verwendung der Fachanzeigen für die Kommissionierung, Montage und Produktion (Automotiv) unterschieden.
  • Pick-to-Light is suitable for activities with high performance requirements with high quality expectations.
Performance & Quality
per storage compartment display
Pick-to-Light Increases performance and minimises picking errors

Pick to Light with compartment displays belongs to the paperless picking methods and supports the picker at the storage compartment with light during picking and removal of the items, products or components. The quantity from the picking list is displayed directly via the Pick-to-Light instruction at the picking compartment and confirmed at the acknowledgement button.

We supply Pick-to-Light systems and will be happy to help you with planning.
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First of all, we will briefly introduce you to the classic of paperless picking:
Standard compartment display PTF-3N-4
Compartment display with signal light and 3-digit quantity display
Maße:130 x 50 mm
Execution:2×7-Farbige LED-Signalleuchte, 3-stellige Mengenanzeige, Plus/Minus Tasten, robuster Quittierungstaster, F-Taste für Sonderfunktionen
Options:Sensor Up/Down for automatic access detection
Areas of application:Order picking, assembly stations, sorting
>> learn more about PTF-3N-4
... and another 20 trade ads with many options can be found here:

 Pick-by-Light Procedure

Sequence: A Pick to Light compartment display is equipped with an eye-catching light that can be seen from afar, an acknowledgement button, numerical display and other function keys. With the acknowledgement button, the order picker confirms the removal directly at the removal tray. The stock change of the quantity is sent back in real time to the merchandise management or warehouse management system and the flashing catch light with the quantity display is switched off immediately. Some compartment displays are alphanumeric and show the picker additional information besides the removal quantity.

Plus and minus correction keys are responsible for correcting the withdrawal quantity in case of shortages or inventory functions. Additional function keys are also available for calling up special functions. Optional sensors support automated acknowledgement. They monitor the intervention in the withdrawal station and generate alarms if necessary.

The orders are activated or started via barcode scanner, RFID reader or by pressing a button. Depending on the application, the picking orders can be picked serially or in parallel after activation. In the first case: Only the acknowledgement of a compartment display switches on the next display on the compartment. In the second case: The system switches on all compartments simultaneously.

Connection of the Pick-to-Light system

The flexible connection of the Pick to Lightsystem to a higher-level system is crucial for optimal process flow. This can be a warehouse management system, warehouse management system or ERP programme. The advantages of a simple and fast interface are essential and have a great influence on many functions in the entire process.

Standard interface to Pick to Light

The standard interface of the Pick-to-Light system is realised via TCP/IP socket. Two asynchronous TCP/IP channels are established for data transmission in both directions.

Communication channels to the Pick-to-Light

The first channel (download) is used for activating and deactivating the displays. Many parameters are included in the telegrams. The second connection channel (upload) is responsible for the acknowledgements, corrections, special messages and error messages.

A receive acknowledgement is sent to each channel. In this way, the data is transmitted quickly and very securely. You can find out more details about this in the article: Standard interface of a Pick-to-Light system.

Customised connection

In many cases, the process must be optimised. We build customised connections for this purpose. Talk to us to find out even more.

A scientific short definition: Pick-to-Light / Pick-to-Light Definition.
Further definition on Wikipedia. Learn more about the history in the article: "History and development of Pick-to-Light".

Pick to Light, PickbyLight, PBL or Pick-to-Light, Pick-2-Light (P2L) are synonyms we also sometimes use. Put-to-Light is a reverse process (read more: What is Put-to-Light?)


The Pick-to-Lighthardware guides the order picker with light and consists of compartment displays, controllers and accessories.

  • Controller (communication and power supply)
  • Mounting rails with integrated BUS (shown here in yellow)
  • Compartment displays with signal lamps (2 x 7 colours), piece count display and an acknowledgement button
  • Cabling with 4-core cable between the mounting rails and controller

How is a modern pick-to-light constructed? Where is it best used?

Overview of all hardware components: Pick-to-Light Hardware

Fields of application of the professional displays

The following industries have been using our system for many years to support picking tasks:

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

The pick-to-light system is very versatile as a picking method, supports the picker and avoids picking errors. The field of application is large. You can read more details in the article: Where is Pick-to-Light used?

The Pick-to-Light system

A Pick-to-Light system is one of the best picking systems, modular and very flexible. Mounting the displays at each picking location is easy and the subsequent conversion options are uncomplicated. Shelves or mobile constructions are ideal for this purpose.

The functions are clearly structured and the light signals are unambiguous. The system supports various barcode scanners, RFID readers, scales. Almost all displays are equipped with several additional keys to correct faulty stock (plus, minus and F key for special functions). Some displays have only a simple signal lamp and acknowledgement button.

More details can be found in the article: Pick-to-Light-System

Pick to Light System
The Pick-to-Light system on a mounting rail with integrated BUS requires no cables. The displays are attached using a simple click mechanism. The modules can be moved and repositioned very easily.

Further 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 system is controlled by the LUCA software in real time. The connection to the higher-level system, material flow and conveyor technology is made via the LUCA-Server, which controls the entire processes.

Sensor for access monitoring at the Pick-to-Light compartment display

The pick-to-light sensor has an important new function in the removal confirmation. It can be optionally installed above or below the display. It monitors the accesses and automatically acknowledges the activities.

The installation of the sensors must be precisely coordinated. As a light sensor, it can measure 15-20 cm without a reflective mirror. With a reflective mirror, even 80-100 cm are possible.

Pick-to-Lightwith access monitoring

Learn more about the Pick-to-Light sensor in another article.

Order picking with Pick-to-Light

Paperless picking is based on a pick list with picking orders. The data is transmitted by the warehouse management system and distributed to the appropriate picking areas of the picking system. There are many variants of how this works.

The standard process

There is standard software at LUCA in which the process for picking from a storage location already fulfils 80% of all the requirements of the pickers. The aim is to minimise the error rate and to speed up the picking process. Very often, however, the requirements for the system are very specific.

Start processing

Basically, there are two different starting methods here:

  • Start via a receipt with barcode
  • Start of paperless picking via FIFO or external trigger

If the delivery notes, cartons or containers are marked with a barcode, barcode scanners can be used in the Pick to Light system. In this case, the displays can also be activated via the delivery note or invoice. RFID technology is also supported.

Confirmation of the removal at the acknowledgement button of the compartment display and end of order

When all items have been picked from the storage bin, the picker confirms the pick directly at the bin by pressing the confirmation button on the bin display. This confirms the pick.

If the quantity is not correct, the correction keys (+/-) can be used to make the quantity corrections. Confirming the withdrawal triggers a feedback to the higher-level warehouse management system (WMS).

Mobile Pick-to-Light

Mobile use of the Pick-to-Light compartment displays is possible on the order picking trolley or mobile frame construction. In this case, a replaceable and durable lithium-ion battery supplies the hardware components. The WiFi module provides the mobile data connection to the control system.

Mobile system with put-to-light compartment displays

Learn more about this in the articles: Pick-by-Cart and Pick-by-Frame

Support in assembly and production

The work during assembly often consists of many steps. The worker must correctly reach into many containers according to the assembly instructions. An assembly process with assembly instructions on a piece of paper is not optimal. The luminous displays can significantly increase performance and quality.

You can read more about this in the article: Pick-to-Light-Assembly

Pick to Light Assembly
Pick-to-Light on the assembly table optimally supports assembly
Many years of experience in paperless order picking
Logistics and Production 2022

How good is Pick to Light and what do the systems cost?

Performance and quality are opposing parameters. As a result, the more performance is expected, the less quality the picker can deliver and the error rates increase. Increasing performance and quality at the same time is not easy with any of the picking methods.

Faster and cheaper is the goal. The capabilities of the control software are crucial here. The simple conversion options are also important.

As a leading order picking process, Pick to Light is currently providing us with an excellent example of how performance and quality can increase rapidly. In the process, operator guidance is improved by the light signals. The infrequent repairs confirm the system stability.

Picking performance

Performance increases by up to 40%. Due to the targeted support of the accesses to the storage compartment, the quality also increases by more than 15%. This minimises picking errors and teach-in time.

When using sensors, the quality increases by a further approx. 10%.

The ROI calculation and the costs

When planning the system, it is essential to consider cost-effectiveness and increased efficiency. Due to the low cost of the hardware, the procurement of the equipment is relatively cheap. The costs for the projects are justified by the effort for the hardware. As a budget for the hardware, calculate with 100,- € per storage compartment.

An ROI calculation must show whether the investment is profitable for the company.

Advantages and disadvantages

The advantages

  1. Very low search time of the articles and increase of efficiency and productivity
  2. The operator has his hands free when picking and great freedom of movement
  3. Multilingual use with short training time for changing personnel
  4. Fewer pick errors from wrong items and no missing pickings
  5. Enables very high performance of the order picker and short throughput times in the workflow
  6. Fast and accurate quantity correction directly at the storage location and direct feedback of the stock change to the warehouse management system

The disadvantages

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

Supplier and manufacturer

As a manufacturer, supplier and expert in picking solutions with Pick to Light, LUCA Logistic Solutions is very flexible thanks to the LUCA communication server software. We offer different technologies to achieve an optimal solution for the customer. We have been building our picking systems since 1998.


In logistics and production, this is Pick to Light is one of the best and most widespread error-free order picking systems. The picker intuitively follows the light signals and quantity displays at the pick location and thus minimises his search time (operator guidance through the orders). Numeric and alphanumeric quantity displays show the number of items. In case of stock errors, the correction keys help.

The simple installation, robust acknowledgement buttons and flexible conversion options make the solution very attractive. Easy connection to any warehouse management system brings enormous advantages. The system can also support permanent inventory very well. Optimal operator guidance through customer orders is the goal.

In large warehouses with many storage compartments, however, the price of mounting the displays is quite high.

Put-to-Light can also be used on the vehicle with WLAN to optimise gripping times, travel times, etc. during order picking.
You can find out more about Put-to-Light here: What is Put-to-Light?

The system is Industry 4.0 ready and is a leader in paperless picking.

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Current downloads:

Download: Pick-to-LightAutomotive


What hardware does Pick to Light need ?

For a Pick to Light, the first thing you need are the compartment displays that are mounted at each storage location. They include LED lights, quantity displays and several buttons. Another system component you need are the controllers, which are used to supply the devices with power and data. The last thing to add are the mounting rails, clamps and cables.
If you want to know more details, visit the page: Pick to Light/ Pick to Light [2022] - LUCA Logistic Solutions.

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

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

Which specifications are required for a request of a Pick-to-Light system?

1. number and types of compartment displays (see: Pick to Light Hardware - LUCA Logistic Solutions)
2. number of mounting rails for attaching the modules
3. total length of the mounting rails
4. layout and functional description
5. entries on the host or warehouse management system

How does Pick to Light work ?

The Pick to Lightcompartment displays light up as soon as a picking order is activated. The indicator light signals the display position from a great distance. The withdrawal quantity is shown on the display.
Correction is made with plus/minus keys if necessary. The order picker confirms the removal of goods (pick) at an acknowledgement button.

What is Pick-to-Light?

Pick-to-Light with compartment displays belongs to the paperless picking methods and supports the picker at the storage compartment with light when picking and removing the items, products or components. The quantity from the picking or pick list is displayed directly via the Pick to Light instruction at the picking compartment and confirmed at the acknowledgement button.

Many years of experience in paperless order picking


Author: Slawomir Skarbecki

Author: CEO & Founder of the LUCA Logistic Solutions

Slawomir Skarbecki

Top expert, consultant and since 1990 until today an active software developer of picking systems and classic material flow controls (MFR). Inventor and author of various picking methods and specialist for interfaces and customer-specific flow processes. His motto: "In the foreground is a good concept and not only the technology"..