Pick-to-light technology: Lightening the load

Advancements in pick-to-light technology and a variety of new applications have prompted a growth in use and productivity.

<p>Use of lights with vertical lift modules (VLMs) and vertical carousels was non-existent as recently as seven years ago, but 85% of today’s units include lights for pick verifications.</p>

Use of lights with vertical lift modules (VLMs) and vertical carousels was non-existent as recently as seven years ago, but 85% of today’s units include lights for pick verifications.

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As recently as 15 years ago, when pick-to-light systems were gaining wider acceptance, a common application might include some 20,000 light modules spread throughout a warehouse. Such systems were only affordable for Fortune 100 companies and large catalogers, who installed modules without regard for walking distances and pick velocities.

In the past half-dozen years or so,however, warehouse managers have gained a better grasp on light-directed picking technology. Improvements in the hardware—coupled with a better understanding of how an installation of as few as 300 units can make a dramatic difference in picking efficiency and accuracy—have made pick-to-light systems accessible to considerably smaller facilities.

“When it was a brand new technology, pick to light was applied improperly by being applied to everything. No matter whether it was a fast-mover, slow-mover or medium-mover—it was applied to every-mover,” recalls Colman Roche, vice president of sales for KardexRemstar (800-639-5805, www.kardexremstar.com). “Now, users are analyzing their inventory and requirements to determine the most appropriate use of pick to light for their application.”

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About the Author

Sara Pearson Specter
Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC. Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery.

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From the October 2017 Modern Materials Handling Issue
An early adopter, Rochester Drug Cooperative is using robotic piece-picking technology to complement picking of slow-moving items. System report for Rochester Drug Cooperative, Robotic picking and inventory management, Innovative distribution center robotics solutions , IAM Robotics case study
Injecting agility into WMS implementation
The Big Picture: Business as Unusual
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