Pick-to-light, also known as Pick-by-Light (PbL), is a light-directed system that shows a warehouse picker the exact location of the item and the number of items they need to pick. Pick-to-light systems can help operators accurately pick over 450 items per hour.
So when the picker acknowledges that he or she has picked the item, the quantity of available product units is automatically updated in the warehouse management system and verified by the inventory management system. This way, there’s always real-time data on how many units of an item are available at every point in time.
Even though pick-to-light systems can be quite expensive in terms of equipment setup and maintenance, retailers who use them enjoy near-perfect order picking accuracy. Also, compared to other picking systems like pick by paper, PTL is capable of eliminating picking errors by 70-90 percent. For instance, if the operator hasn’t picked the number of items required, the lights will stay on until they do.
It can also be integrated into a warehouse’s current warehouse management (WHM) system, supply chain management (SCM) infrastructure, or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. For retailers, the trade-off can be worth the expense in terms of better worker productivity – can be as much as a 30-50 percent increase, and cost savings.
This is possible, thanks to a combination of its guidance system, automatic acknowledgment features, and increased pick-and-put efficiency throughout the picking process. Pick to light systems require very little training (usually less than an hour), which means just about anyone can use the systems, regardless of their educational backgrounds.
And because the system uses a combination of lights, indicators, and numbers, warehouse employees do not need to understand or master any language. This creates an opportunity for diversity in employment and comes in handy during those peak periods when warehouse staff need to hire lots of temporary labor to meet high volume demands.
Retailers who use pick-to-light technologies enjoy considerably error-free order picking, improved labor utilization, and enhanced productivity operations because of its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. While PTL isn’t as ubiquitous as other picking systems or methods, like vision or voice picking, it’s fast gaining ground.