Picking systems [2021]

Picking systems should optimally support employees and save costs

Order picking systems - Hololens in action

Picking systems are very important in the warehouse or in a production and should support the employees. The requirements are very different. This is exactly why it is not possible to create a universal system. First plan and then choose the picking techniques.

We will introduce you to the LUCA systems and give you an insight into the different possibilities. We will also explain which systems go together and how they are best used.

What are picking systems?

Imagine a large warehouse. Many items or semi-finished products are stored on shelves or pallets. The customer or production orders certain items.

If the goods are available at the storage bin, the Warehouse Management System generates an order. Now the items have to be collected from the storage bins.

This is precisely where the picking systems come into play. They are designed to support the employee in the warehouse. Read even more about picking at Wikipedia.

The best order picking systems in comparison?

Many scientists and researchers have been dealing with this question for several years. The answer here is very simple:

No one picking system is the best. The system must fit the requirements.

It is simply not possible to build a single solution and thus fulfill all tasks. Every bearing is different, so a comparison is hardly possible.

Standards include:

  • Pick-to-Light
  • Put-to-Light
  • Voice Picking
  • Pick-by-Point®
  • Pick-by-Frame®
  • Pick-by-Cart
  • Pick-by-Watch

Others are new and very innovative.

The main differences and comparisons

First and foremost, picking systems must differ according to the type of automation. In some warehouses and productions it does not make sense to use complex and expensive automation. On the other hand, in comparison, a high performance shipping warehouse cannot be fully implemented without automation.

This results in the following comparison of picking systems:

  • Fully automatic
  • Semi automatic with conveyor
  • Manual

Fully automatic picking

Fully automated picking can only be used for certain items and at high outputs. The high costs must justify the investment. The goods are picked fully automatically and transported to the packaging e.g. via a conveyor system.

In order to operate a fully automated plant, a highly qualified technical staff is required. Constant monitoring of the systems and immediate reaction in case of malfunctions are mandatory.

Due to the high cost, the fully automatic picking systems are not very common.

Semi-automatic picking with conveyor technology

An example of this are the classic shipping lines. Automatic or manual carton erectors are used to prepare the cartons. The cartons are transported via a conveyor system to the individual picking zones, where the appropriate picking systems Pick-to-Light, Pick-by-Scan, Pick-by-Watch, etc. are used.

Here we distinguish between:

  • Man to goods
  • Goods to man

In principle, semi-automatic picking systems are widely used. The costs of hardware and implementation are kept within manageable limits. The designs of the systems are not too technically demanding. Annual maintenance is usually sufficient for the systems.

Manual picking

The human being is always in the foreground of manual picking systems. The technical equipment should make the picker 's work easier, guide him and signal any errors.

In many warehouses, only forklifts or picking carts are used. Different racking techniques are used here (pallets, flow racks, shelf racks, etc.). For this reason, the order picking systems must also be set up differently.

In a picking warehouse where only pallets are picked, forklift terminals are quite sufficient. On the other hand, small parts and small containers find their place in shelves or flow racks. Picking carts are then more suitable.

Type of manual picking

One of the important additional criteria for the correct selection of manual picking systems is the type of picking. Here there are the following differences:

  • Singel Order Picking
  • Multi Order Picking

Commonly used manual picking methods include:

  • Pick-to-Light
  • Voice Picking
  • Pick-by-Frame®
  • Pick-by-Point®
  • Pick-by-Watch
  • Pick-by-Tablet

The correct planning and concept

We often experience that people are already very fixated on a certain technology when making a request. Pick-by-Vision is a fashion. The proven technologies are Pick-to-Light, Voice Picking, Pick-by-Point, Pick-by-Frame. Again and again, unfortunately, only the technology and not the concept is in the foreground.

Combination of the systems

Some connections of the systems are particularly efficient. As an example, the problem with the checksums of the classic Voice Picking is very suitable here. At high performance, the employee has to "talk" to the system a lot compared to other solutions. Confirmation of the lane, confirmation of the checksum, confirmation of the quantity, confirmation of the batch, etc.

All this costs a lot of time. The problem with orientation and checksums is solved by combining Voice Picking with Pick-by-Point®. The Pick-by-Point® light shows the storage compartment with a large dot. The employee then only confirms the number of items picked. The combination of the picking systems is very efficient in this case.

Advantages and disadvantages of the picking systems


  • Support for employees
  • Quality assurance
  • Enable high performance
  • Always up to date inventory control


  • High costs, depending on the degree of automation
  • Annual costs for maintenance
  • Often not flexible due to complex technical design

Why is LUCA different?

There are many suppliers for individual systems on the market. But this is rarely enough to offer an optimal solution. We supply all systems from a single source and control them centrally via our LUCA server software.

The LUCA systems control the picking and material flow the entire plants. We also build individual and small plants.


LUCA offers many picking systems. In some cases it makes sense to even use the individual systems as a combination. The focus in planning should be the concept and not only the technology. Talk to us.

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