Pick-to-light systems create efficiencies, improve accuracy, and can quickly provide a substantial return on investment.

As more and more warehouses and distribution centers look to solutions to increase efficiency, pick-to-light systems are getting more and more attention. So what exactly is pick to light, and how can it benefit your operation?

What exactly is pick to light, and how can it benefit your operation?

What is a Pick-to-Light System?

A pick-to-light system is a paperless technology used in order picking and fulfillment processes within warehouses, distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities. They’re custom designed to improve accuracy, efficiency, and speed when assembling orders and picking items for shipment. The system uses a combination of lights and displays to guide workers through the picking process.

Here’s how a pick-to-light system typically works:

Each storage location or bin in the picking area is equipped with a display module. This module includes a visual indicator, such as a light or a numerical display. The pick-to-light system receives information about the items to be picked from an order management or warehouse management system (WMS). This information is then transmitted to the display modules associated with the relevant storage locations. When an order picker arrives at a storage location to fulfill an order, the pick-to-light system activates the corresponding display module.

The display module uses lights or numeric displays to visually indicate how many items need to be picked from that location. It might also display other information, such as item descriptions or order details. Once the picker has retrieved the required quantity of items from the storage location, they confirm the pick by pressing a button or triggering a sensor on the display module. The pick-to-light system then communicates the picking confirmation back to the WMS, which updates inventory levels and order status in real-time.

Benefits of a Pick-to-Light System

Light directed picking for order fulfillment solutions.

Pick-to-light is acknowledged to be the fastest operator-based picking strategy available to execute broken case quantity order fulfillment operations.  Ideal for team-based approaches like zone picking, the pick-to-light solution increases the pick rate productivity, accuracy and cost efficiency of this labor intensive process.

Pick-to-light systems are particularly beneficial in environments with a high number of SKUs and frequent order turnovers. They’re commonly used in e-commerce, retail distribution, pharmaceuticals, and other industries where accurate and efficient order fulfillment is crucial.

There are myriad benefits to pick-to-light systems, including:

  • Accuracy: The visual indicators reduce the likelihood of human error, as pickers are guided to the correct items and quantities.
  • Speed: The system speeds up the picking process by providing clear instructions and eliminating the need for manual searching.
  • Efficiency: Pickers can work more efficiently with reduced training time and improved workflow. There are reduced labor costs because the resulting increases in efficiency and speed – as well as due to the elimination of piles of paperwork.
  • Real-time Updates: The system provides real-time data on order progress and inventory levels.
  • Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: All of the above-mentioned benefits contribute to improved levels of customer service.

What’s more, pick-to-light systems can be customized to suit different warehouse layouts and order picking strategies. These systems can be standalone or integrated into existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems or existing warehouse management systems (WMS).

What about Put-to-Light Systems?

High-speed order sortation systems for e-commerce order fulfillment; aka Pick-to-Light in reverse.

Like the name implies, a put-to-light system is a technology used in warehousing and order fulfillment processes to guide workers through the process of putting away incoming items into designated storage locations. These systems are particularly useful in improving the efficiency and accuracy of inventory replenishment and restocking operations.

The put solution optimizes batch picking and high-speed sortation operations with a process sometimes called pick-to-light in reverse. With put-to-light, operators scan an item and the locations representing a store or customer needing that item illuminate.  From straightforward scan-and-put workstations and put walls, to more complex sortation applications, our solutions offer options that maximize speed and accuracy.

Put-to-light systems are particularly valuable in environments with a high volume of incoming items and a need for quick and accurate replenishment. They are commonly used in industries such as e-commerce, retail, manufacturing, and distribution centers to improve overall warehouse efficiency and inventory management.

Of course, the optimal setting for both pick-to-light and put-to-light systems is a high-density environment.

Next Steps

IndPro is your trusted advisor for distribution and order fulfillment operations.  For over two decades, our clients continue to depend on us to deliver the best-in-class results at the best value.  We’re an experienced team of automation experts and system integrators excelling in the design and implement of customized automation solutions. 

Contact a material handling and automation expert to help you streamline your operations to maximize productivity and increase your ROI.