Streamlined Operations: Pick-to-Light Wins
Warehouse picking is the process of selecting products and items from various locations throughout a fulfillment or distribution center to fulfill a customer order. And as any good warehouse manager knows, time is money when it comes to picking. With some estimates indicating that picking accounts for more than 50 percent of all warehouse operating costs, any effort or strategy implemented to improve speed and efficiency isn't just going to fulfill orders faster - but save money too.
In this post, we'll discuss one such strategy: pick-to-light. Read on to learn more about what pick-to-light is and how it can boost productivity and efficiency in the warehouse.
What is Pick-to-Light?
Pick-to-light is a type of order fulfillment strategy that warehouses, and distribution centers use to streamline their productivity. Consisting of a combination of display lights and buttons positioned at various locations throughout a facility, the system is designed to guide workers as they select products for shipment. Typically, these lights are mounted on flow racks, put walls, static shelving, mobile carts and other workstations throughout a warehouse. Simply put, pick-to-light consists of either picking from a light or putting to a light.
At Daifuku Wynright, we've been delivering these directed picking systems to fulfillment centers for many years and specialize in creating custom solutions for your facility.
How it Works: A Step-by-Step Guide
Pick-to-light systems are customized for various fulfillment applications. Here's a look at the steps involved in a typical pick-to-light system:
1. The worker scans into a zone in the system and then scans a barcoded tote or container.
2. All the locations needing to be picked illuminate making them easy to see and this shows the worker which items and quantities need to be picked for the order.
3. The worker picks the items and when the last item is picked, that indicates the end of the order and verifies that the task is complete.
4. The worker places the container on the conveyor for travel to the next zone.
5. The picking continues in each zone until an exit message is displayed to the worker.
6. This indicates that the order is complete and ready for shipping.
Key Benefits of Pick-to-Light
There are a variety of benefits associated with adopting pick-to-light systems. These include:
Arguably the biggest benefit of pick-to-light is the speed at which such tasks can be performed. Workers can pick up to twice as fast as using a paper system - and pick-to-light is particularly useful for facilities that need to move and sort high-velocity items. This allows for fewer pickers and the balance of the pickers to be used in the warehouse for other tasks. What's more is that such systems are scalable and highly flexible, able to handle several hundred to several thousand SKUs.
Speed is just one component of pick-to-light. And while speed is an important one, it's not a benefit if such systems also don't improve accuracy. Customers sometimes overlook the cost of an error which is critical in any economy. Pick-to-light systems aren't just fast, but they can reduce errors by up to 99 percent.
Light up and pick your fastest movers, PUT products into customer orders, Sort items to bins, Sort returns, Work Cells, and custom applications.
• Reduce your training time by 50%
• Reduce the number of pickers.
• Improve your selection accuracy to 99.99%
• Increase your productivity by 20% - 40%
• Easy to use and configurable.
• ROI in 12 - 18 months
Integration with Other Technologies
Material handling systems are a must for any warehouse or facility center these days, especially when it comes to meeting efficiency requirements and navigating a challenging labor market. What's nice about pick-to-light systems is that they can also integrate with other technologies throughout the warehouse, from material handling conveyor systems to various advanced software programs and more.
It's Easy to Learn
Unlike many systems, there's little to no learning curve with pick-to-light. You simply just scan into the system and follow the prompts until the order is fulfilled. This benefit is especially helpful when navigating between busy and slow seasons, as any additional temporary workers won't have to spend a significant amount of time learning the new system.
It'll Make Your Customers Happy
In addition to the other benefits listed here, adopting a more efficient, more accurate system is only going to make your customers happier. And when your customers are happy, you'll receive less returned inventory and will likely be operating a more efficient business.
For more information on pick-to-light and how it can improve productivity in your facility, contact Daifuku Wynright today. From parallel to pick-and-pass to batch and cluster applications, we have the know-how and expertise to customize a solution for your application.