The Advantages and Disadvantages of Pick to Light Systems

Improving your warehouse efficiency and driving 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 boost the work performance of your operators and the overall output of your warehouse. From the price of the pick-to-light system to their intricate functionalities, we take a deep dive into this technology and give you expert advice on whether or not it’s right for you.

What are Pick-To-Light Systems?

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

As a whole, pick-to-light systems are 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 the efficiency of their workers. It’s one of the best systems out there for handling ecommerce-sized small orders — a feature that’s incredibly important given the growth of ecommerce in recent years.

By implementing a fast, visual, hands-free scanning process in your supply chain, you can extend pick-to-light functionalities and jump-start your business and adapt it so that it is more optimized and ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow .

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 appropriate indicator lights up and draws your employees’ attention to it. Depending on the systems you use to process and forward orders, the employee then checks what they are dealing with the product. The worker then picks up the product and confirms this action by pressing the illuminated button.

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

Pick-to-light systems handle most SKUs, but slower and oversized moving items require an additional or secondary picking process.

Benefits of pick-to-light systems

Let’s start with the brass tacks and try to understand the benefits and many advantages of a pick-to-light system in a warehouse – and how they can really improve your stats and make your warehouse much more aerodynamic.

Pick-To-Light is fast

By drawing the attention of your employees to an exact location, you streamline your entire operation. This is one of the biggest advantages of this type of system. It is one of the fastest and easiest techniques to apply in your warehouse to improve your logistics strategy.

A pick-to-light system eliminates the need to interpret locations or read location numbers or the need for an RF terminal display. All you need is an operator walking past a storage location. The order comes in, your software automatically sends out a signal, the light turns on, your operator chooses the item, press to confirm – DONE!

Accuracy

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

Pick-to-light is paperless

You no longer have to rely on pick sheets to process or count items, let alone keep track of your records or direct actions. Operators simply need to confirm an order by pressing the pick-to-light button and scanning the item to not only get instructions on where to deliver it, but also mark it in the system. Your software automatically does everything else – from replenishing inventory to printing labels for delivery. This ultimately reduces costs, errors and improves your entire operation.

Assembly line approach

Thanks to pick-to-light systems, your operators get to work according to an assembly line-like methodology. They stick to their zones — Orders are guided through the zones by conveyor belts, carts, or other transport mechanisms. Orders are processed faster and productivity is increased by less walking.

Cost of Pick to light

This type of technology has been around for almost 20 years. Initially only an option for companies with deep pockets, now, thanks to advancements in technology and software, costs have fallen exponentially, making it one of the most affordable order fulfillment systems on the market.

Disadvantages of Pick to Light Systems

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

Additional investment

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

hacking

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

Small orders

Another drawback is that right out of the box, with no auxiliary tools, these systems only work well for small pick and near pick areas.

Choose light applications

For e-commerce, pick to light is an incredible technology to adopt. It really gives your whole operation an adrenaline rush and sends it into overdrive. At the moment, the costs for these types of systems are low – the price of light modules can range from $150 to $250 depending on the 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, shortened the ROI of their implementation.

Last updated: January 26, 2022