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The Pros and Cons Of Pick to Light Systems

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Improving the efficiency of your warehouse and boosting your benchmarks should be your number one priority as a business manager — your supply chain and its optimization are critical to your model and its success, according to cips.org. In this article, we’re going to explore the benefits of a pick-to-light system in a warehouse. More importantly how these types of systems super-charge your operators’ work performance and the overall output of your warehouse. From the pick to light system’s price point, all the way to their intricate functionalities, we’re going to go deep into this technology and give you expert advice on whether or not it is a good fit for you. 

What are Pick-To-Light Systems? 

A Pick-to-light system (or PTL) is a type of order picking technology that’s commonly used in distribution centers and warehouses, says Mhi.org. The model employs lights and LEDs on shelves, racks, or pallets to indicate locations and guide workers through their job. 

As a whole, pick-to-light systems have been known to increase picking efficiency in most warehouses. One of the great things about pick-to-light systems is the way they kick a warehouse into high gear by perfecting their workers’ efficiency. It is one of the best systems out there for processing small, e-commerce size orders — a feature that’s incredibly important given the growth of e-commerce in recent years. 

By implementing a fast, visual, hand-free scanning process into your supply chain you can expand the pick-to-light functionalities and really jump-start your business and tweak it so it’s more optimized and ready to face tomorrow’s challenges. 

Pick To Light — How does it work?

Pick to light warehouse systems use small light indicators mounted on shelves, flow racks, pallet racks, or other types of storage locations. Whenever a product enters the pipeline and is needed for a particular task, the right indicator turns on and draws your workers’ attention to it. The worker then, depending on what systems you use to process and direct orders, verify what they have to do with the product. The worker then picks up the product and confirms this action by pressing the lighted button. 

This is one of the fastest ways to direct your crew. In the time it would take a worker to interpret a call, or location number or pick a list apart, an order could already be processed through the use of Pick-To-Light systems. 

Pick-to-light systems handle most SKUs but for slower and oversized moving items, an auxiliary or secondary pick process is needed. 

Pros of pick to light systems

Let’s get down to the brass tacks and try to understand the advantages and many benefits of a pick-to-light system in a warehouse — and how they can truly boost your metrics and make your warehouse that much more aerodynamic. 

Pick-To-Light is Fast

By drawing your workers’ attention to an exact location you streamline your whole operation. This is one of the biggest benefits of these types of systems. It is one of the fastest and easiest techniques to employ in your warehouse to improve your logistics strategy. 

A pick to light system makes obsolete the need to interpret locations or read locations numbers or the need for an RF terminal screen. All you need is an operator passing by a storage location. The order comes in, your software automatically sends out a signal, the light goes on, your operator picks the item, pushes to confirm — DONE!

Accuracy

Task simplification is just one of the many features of this system and it’s further enhanced by its accuracy. Pick-to-light systems are incredibly accurate and can do wonders for your warehouse.

Pick-to-light are paperless 

You won’t need to rely any longer on pick sheets to handle or tally items — let alone keep track of your records or direct actions. Operators just need to confirm an order by pressing the pick-to-light button and scan said item to not only get instructions on where to deliver it but mark it into the system. Your software automatically does everything else — from replenishing stock to printing labels for delivery. This ultimately reduces cost, errors, and better your whole operation. 

Assembly line approach

Your operators, thanks to pick-to-light systems, start to work under an assembly line-like methodology. They stick to their zones — Orders are passed through zones by conveyors, carts, or other transportation mechanisms. Orders are processed fasters, and productivity is enhanced by reducing walking. 

Cost of Pick to light 

This type of technology has been around for almost 20 years. Initially, only an option for corporations with deep pockets, now, thanks to advances in technology and software, the cost has dipped exponentially, making it one of the most affordable systems for order fulfillment in the market. 

Cons or Pick to Light Systems

Let’s discuss some of the disadvantages of pick-to-light systems.

Extra investment

To really get the most out of these types of systems you will need to invest in auxiliary tools. These tools will help you automate the process more. They include software, robotics, conveyors, etc. The more you compliment your system with auxiliary tools, the better it will function. 

Hacking

Another problem with these systems, one that with future updates will become a thing of the past, is that they are prone to hacking as well as white noise. This can be avoided by using firewalls and anti-malware software. 

Small orders

Another drawback is that right out of the box, without any auxiliary tools, these systems only function well for small pick and near pick areas. 

Pick to light applications

For e-commerce, pick to light is an incredible technology to employ. It truly gives your whole operation a shot of adrenaline and jolts it into overdrive. Right now, costs are down for these types of systems — the price of light modules can range between $150 to $250 depending on quantity, bulk orders get discounts, and the light module used. Technology has dramatically reduced the cost of pick-to-light systems and, as a whole, has shortened the ROI of implementing it.

Last Updated: January 26, 2022

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