Pick-to-light is a proven order-fulfillment technology that has continued to evolve to meet changing needs within distribution centers. FastFetch has created a small-footprint pick-to-light system – called a micro pick cell – that is implemented with minimal infrastructure and orchestrated by a tablet computer. A typical micro pick cell might employ perhaps 100 pick locations, each equipped with an adjacent light module to highlight the pick location and the pick quantity. Micro pick cells offer the speed and accuracy advantages of light-directed picking in a compact, cost-effective implementation. Multiple independent micro pick cells can be employed concurrently to achieve high fulfillment speeds.
Typical applications employ multiple pick cells with a single picker assigned to each pick cell. A conveyor transports shipping containers, such has a box or a bag, to the micro pick cells. As shipping containers arrive at the micro pick cells, workers retrieve them from the conveyor and scan a barcode on the container that corresponds to the customer order. Scanning the barcode causes lights within the cell to display the quantity of each SKU the order requires from the cell. The worker retrieves the required quantities of each needed SKU, as directed by the lighted displays, and places them into the container. Finally, the worker places the container back onto the conveyor which transports it to the shipping area.
Micro pick cells have proven especially useful in applications such as subscription box fulfilment where a huge number of orders must be fulfilled quickly, but the number of SKUs might only be only a few hundred. The concept is highly scalable since, at any given time, the number of micro pick cells employed can be increased or decreased to match the current workload. Variations on the micro pick cell concept are possible to meet the specific needs of particular applications.