Picking systems [2021]

Order 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 articles or semi-products are stored on shelves or pallets. The customer or production orders certain articles.

If the goods are available in the storage bin, the warehouse management system generates an order. Now the items have to be collected from the storage bins.

This is exactly where the picking systems come into play. They are supposed to support the warehouse staff. 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 fulfil 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 most important differences and comparisons

First and foremost, picking systems need to be differentiated according to the type of automation. In some warehouses and productions it makes no sense to use complex and expensive automation. On the other hand, in comparison, a high-performance dispatch warehouse cannot be fully implemented without automation.

This results in the following comparison of the picking systems:

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

Fully automatic order picking

Fully automated order 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.

To be able to operate a fully automated system, a highly qualified technical staff is required. Constant monitoring of the systems and immediate reaction in case of malfunctions are imperative.

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

Semi-automatic order picking with conveyor technology

An example of this are 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, where the appropriate picking systems Pick-to-Light, Pick-by-Scan, Pick-by-Watch, etc. are used.

We distinguish between:

  • Man to goods
  • Goods to the man

In principle, semi-automatic picking systems are widespread. The costs of the hardware and the 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 order picking

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

In many warehouses, only forklifts or picking trolleys 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 completely sufficient. On the other hand, small parts and small containers find their place in shelves or flow racks. In that case, picking trolleys are 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 technique when they make an enquiry. 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 of the systems' connections are particularly efficient. As an example, the problem with the checksums of the classic Voice Picking is very suitable here. With 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 picked number of items. The combination of the picking systems is very efficient in this case.

Advantages and disadvantages of picking systems


  • Support for the 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 design

Why is LUCA different?

There are many suppliers for individual systems on the market. But that 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 plants. 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 the concept and not just the technology. Talk to us.

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