The way in which we conduct warehouse management, including the picking of goods waiting for transport, determines the efficiency of the process. Preparation of goods for shipment is supported by innovative Pick-by systems… Solutions of this type are used not only in logistic centers belonging to operators (i.e. Dachser) but also in commercial network facilities (i.e. Kaufland) or warehouses (i.e. Fiat Auto Poland). Which one to choose?
Specialists emphasize that each picking support technology is used to increase efficiency and improve work ergonomics, but a complete logistics system should be designed individually. That is because in any given industry or in any company, a specific solution can work perfectly well while in another one it will fail to deliver expected results. Pick-by systems… are universal. The effect of their application is to minimize errors during the preparation of shipments, both to external recipients and „for production”.
Pick-by… systems in a nutshell
Pick-by systems… are used not only in distribution centers but also in the production sector i.e. Tychy Fiat Auto Poland factory. Each car consists of several thousand parts and there is no room for randomness. In the picking zone, parts for all vehicles are manufactured at the given moment. The correctness of the prepared set with parts for a particular car plays a key role and determines the quality of production. Pick-by-Point technology comes in handy.
Pick-By-Point system is based on the work of lamps. After activating the order, the beam of light indicates to the operator which product should be taken from the storage slot or a container on the rack. Such luminous points make up the way of picking for the employee collecting the order. The control of proper execution and acknowledgment is carried out by a wireless button: its use means closing the next order item.
We are dealing not only with the solutions which use light (Pick-by-Point, Pick-by-Light) but also with voice (Pick-by-Voice). According to Bogusław Gnat (Luca Logistic Solutions), each method has pros and cons, and the application depends more on the specifics of the process than on the type of company.
Pointing storage locations and products with light is used in the Pick-by-Light method where modules with multi-colored LEDs are placed under each storage space. Pick-by-Point method uses LED lamps installed on movable heads which illuminate in different colors the storage spaces of various size with light spots within their range. Product lighting on a bookcase or palette is intuitive and requires no language skills or additional training. Information on the number of products to be downloaded can be transferred using displays built into the Pick-by-Light modules, external displays (LED, LCD) placed in the zone or voice using wireless headphones. The receipt can be picked up automatically using the Pick-Radar infrared curtain or manually using the buttons located in the Pick-by-Light modules or the Remote-Control wireless buttons „- explains B. Gnat, also paying attention to the fact that Pick-by- Light is the only method that allows simultaneous work of many people, completing the same order, or several orders with different colors.
Other methods require a separate device (Pick-by-Voice terminals, scanners) for each of the employees. The limitation of the traditional Pick-by-Light system is the cost of large installations because a separate Pick-by-Light module must be installed for each storage space. In this situation, the Pick-by-Frame system is helpful, in which light modules indicate the places of storage on the picking trolley, not the pickup place. Light-based methods are not suitable for outdoor work and wherever direct sunlight illuminates storage space. In such cases, Pick-by-Voice is more effective. Devices based on several methods of operation are available on the market of voice systems, including multilingual, real speech recognition and enabling you to start working without having to learn your voice system.
The basic advantage of Pick-by-Voice is that it is hands-free. During the picking, the employee can, for example, manage the internal transport. In the same zone, terminals with different languages may work, as well as with a different way of checking. For example, depending on the experience, the employee may confirm the correct collection by a short „OK” or by reading random control numbers. The voice system is the most popular in the processes requiring trolley transport. Pick-by-Voice is not intuitive like light-based systems. On the other hand, in contrast to the Pick-by-Light, it is very mobile, because it does not require an installation of supporting systems in the warehouse and cabling on shelves.
The first advantage of Pick-by-Voice – the release of both hands makes barcodes readable with a wrist reader, which ensures high comfort of work, among others in distribution warehouses of the food or beverage industry „- specialists from Logzact explain.
However, the users themselves also signal a problem related to fatigue that occurs with warehouse employees in case of long-term work with a voice solution. Voice commands can then be misunderstood by the warehouseman, which can lead to confusion. Light solutions are more favorable in this respect – the command is lit on the light module to confirm the operation, which reduces the likelihood of confusion.
Photo: wikipedia.org / Luca