Order picking or order preparation systems ensure that items are taken from the warehouse and collected in specified quantities before shipment to customers. We have a range of hardware and software solutions, and what will work best for you really depends on your needs, your products and your product mix.
Often a mix of the above systems will work best. Pick to light for example is very good, fast and very accurate, but it can also mean a substantial investment if you have very many SKU’s. Therefore, it usually works better to concentrate the pick to light zone where the smaller, more expensive and faster-moving articles are, or where you need very high accuracy such as in a medical care products or cosmetics environment. Our consultants will work with you to arrive at the right mix of solutions.
Operator is provided with a list of products to be picked, how many, and where. This can be a paper list, or it can be provided on a screen or a handheld terminal. It can be combined with barcodes and scanners. This system is basically what most of us use when we go shopping. The advantage is that it is simple and cheap, the disadvantage is that mistakes are easy to make.
The locations to pick (or put) are fitted with displays. If an operator must pick a certain number of articles from a given location, the light will go on, and the display will also show how many the operator must pick (put). Once he picked it, the operator usually pushes a button to indicate he performed the pick (put) and the light will go out. This can be made very simple or very sophisticated, such as making the number on the display adaptable (if there is not enough stock) or the light can go out automatically when a photocell has sensed a pallet is put, or the operator may carry a special type of bracelet and the system will “sense” his hand has been in the zone.
The advantage of this system is that it is very accurate, reducing the possibilities of error to a minimum. The disadvantage is that it is costly. There is the cost of the displays and of the software. The system is often used for things that are expensive, where things look very much alike, and where mistakes are very bad. Typical environments are cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Here the operator carries a headset which will “tell” him what to pick, where, and how many. The operator goes to the location, confirms a check digit which he will find there. This way the system is 100% sure the operator is where he should be) and confirms by voice that he picked what he should pick.
Automated order picking system (Alsico, Belgium)