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Order picking systems [2023]

Picking systems should provide employees with optimum support and save costs

Order picking systems - Hololens in action

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

We will introduce you to the LUCA systems and give you an insight into the various options. We will also explain which systems fit together and how they are best used.

What are order picking systems?

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

Once the goods are available in the storage bin, the Warehouse Management System generates an order. The items must now be collected from the storage compartments.

This is exactly where the picking systems come into play. They are designed to support employees in the warehouse. Read more about order picking on Wikipedia.

The best order picking systems in comparison?

Many scientists and researchers have been working on 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 to fulfill all tasks. Every bearing is different, so a comparison is hardly possible.

The 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 most important differences and comparisons

First and foremost, picking systems must be differentiated according to the type of automation. In some warehouses and production facilities, it makes no sense to use complex and expensive automation. On the other hand, a high-capacity dispatch warehouse cannot be fully managed without automation.

This results in the following comparison of picking systems:

  • Fully automatic
  • Semi-automatic with conveyor technology
  • Manual

Fully automated order picking

Fully automated picking can only be used for certain articles 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.

Highly qualified technical personnel are required to operate a fully automated system. Constant monitoring of the systems and immediate reaction to faults are essential.

Due to the high costs, fully automated picking systems are not very common.

Semi-automatic order picking with conveyor technology

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

We distinguish between:

  • Man to goods
  • Goods to man

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

Manual order picking

People are always at the forefront 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 order picking trolleys are used. Different racking technologies are used here (pallets, flow racks, shelving racks, etc.). For this reason, the picking systems must also be set up differently.

In a picking warehouse where only pallets are picked, forklift terminals are perfectly adequate. On the other hand, small parts and small containers find their place in shelves or flow racks. In this case, order picking trolleys are more suitable.

Type of manual order picking

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

  • Single Order Picking
  • Multi Order Picking

Manual picking methods are frequently used:

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

Correct planning and the concept

We often find that people are already very fixated on a particular 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. Unfortunately, the focus is always on the technology and not the concept.

Combination of systems

Some system connections are particularly efficient. The problem with the checksums of the classic Voice Picking is a very good example of this. With high performance, the employee has to "talk" to the system a lot compared to other solutions. Confirmation of the aisle, confirmation of the checksum, confirmation of the quantity, confirmation of the batch, etc.

This all costs a lot of time. The combination of Voice Picking with Pick-by-Point® solves the problem of orientation and checksums. 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 picking systems is very efficient in this case.

Advantages and disadvantages of order picking systems


  • Support for employees
  • Quality assurance
  • Enabling high performance
  • Always up-to-date stock control


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

Why is LUCA different?

There are many providers of individual systems on the market. However, 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 of the entire plant. We also build individual and small systems.


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

Further topics ...

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