Choices, choices, choices—we are a society that demands options. But too many options can stall decision-making and cause delays in a warehouse and distribution facility. The time a worker spends at a picking destination visually scanning the shelves or storage positions to find the right part then matching it to a paper pick lists is wasted time.
That’s where light-directed picking systems come into play. These systems utilize lights and/or alphanumeric display modules (sometimes sporting multiple colors) to direct the picker to an item’s exact location - removing the manual decision making from the order picking process. The worker then spends no time making a decision; instead they simply follow the light as directed, pick the item and move on.
Pick to light technology can be integrated into virtually every kind of storage and picking system - from static shelving and pallet rack to automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) such as horizontal or vertical carousels or vertical lift modules (VLM). They’ve been documented to deliver at least a 50% increase in pick rate productivity, and accuracy rates of 99% or more. Operators often report picking by light is like playing a video game—and much more fun than picking by paper—an added bonus!
There are several different types and styles available to match to different operations’ picking processes and storage systems. Here’s a brief overview of a few options and how they can be used.
5 Pick to Light Technologies Available
1. LED Pick to Light Technology
LED pick to light systems are designed to simplify human order picking by using LED pick lights to improve picking efficiency, picking accuracy, and process reliability. Used most often in combination with Vertical Lift Modules & Vertical Carousels, the LED panel is mounted at the pick face to guide the operator through the picking process.
The LED panel directs the operator to the exact location of the part to pick and displays material and order information such as part number, description, and order quantity. Order accuracy is increased and mispicks are reduced. Often language can be customizable for multilingual communication.
2. Pick-to-Light & Put-to-Light (Batch Lights)
Used with horizontal and vertical carousels, VLMs, static pick faces, shelving, or on mobile picking carts and cubby-hole putwalls, these pick to light modules direct an operator to pick items from (or put items to) a specific location.
Pick to light units illuminate (and often blink) to indicate where the pick is stored, and often display the number of items required to pick; after the required action is complete, the operator presses a confirmation button on the module to confirm the pick (they can also indicate replenishment quantities and destinations). The same type of lights are known as put-to-light or batch lights when used for batch picking to totes or carts, and for picked item sortation and order consolidation at stationary workstations.
3. Light Pointer
Used exclusively with VLMs, this system deploys an LED or laser light mounted on a slider that moves horizontally on a guiding system within the access opening of the storage and retrieval unit. Software-driven, the pointer swivels to project its light beam into the storage tray and point to the location of the required item, eliminating search time in picking or replenishment.
4. Position Indicator Light Bar
Incorporated into the access openings of both VLMs and vertical carousels, these LED lights illuminate in alignment with the position of the required item where it is stored in the tray.
5. Pick-to-Light: Light Tower
Integrated with horizontal carousels, this unit houses picking display modules in an upright (tower) configuration that aligns to the carousel’s stacked storage bins. The displays indicate the active carousel, shelf level, cell location and quantity to pick. Software-driven, a single light tower serves two horizontal carousels working together in a picking pod.