Order Fulfillment Technologies Compared

Written By: Nancy Hauer

Pick-to-Light Devices in a California DC

This California-based clothing distributor installed pick to light and order fulfillment software to improve their operation.

You know what your operation needs: a better, faster, and more accurate order fulfillment solution. This challenge tops many warehouse managers’ lists. Of course, the concept is deceptively simple: Take a customer order and then pick, pack, and ship it. As with most things, however, the order fulfillment process is much more complex and involves people, resources, record keeping, and transportation—all of which require time and management.

The good news is that automation technology can ease the burden of picking operations by improving the process with increased productivity and accuracy. This article covers four popular order fulfillment solutions employed in many automated warehouses: mobile scanners, voice picking, pick to light, and pick to display.

  • RF handheld scanners provide a modular solution for your system, meeting immediate system needs while allowing you to easily add more functionality as your business grows. Generally, RF scanners are the least expensive order fulfillment system to implement.
  • Pick to light consists of light displays installed at pick locations in shelving units, case flow racks and storage racks. The light displays identify the location and number of items to be picked, and the operator extinguishes the light after picking is complete. Pick to light touts high picking rates along with near perfect accuracy levels. Westcoast Warehousing (pictured above) installed pick to light to help them greatly reduce labor costs, employee training time, and picking errors.
  • Voice picking is an operation in which operators use headsets with microphones and to receive and confirm picking instructions. The operator hears a computer voice instructing them to complete a task and they then respond orally to confirm completion – offering a hands-free method of picking.
  • Display technology takes light displays to the next level by providing product images in addition to text instructions. The graphics and enhanced detail help to improve order accuracy and efficiency.

Automation technology can solve many of these issues, but it’s critical to choose a solution that best matches your system and that will provide the best return on your investment. For a high level review of how these technologies compare, in terms of efficiently, speed and price, review our chart below.

Order Fulfillment Technologies Comparison

For more information about order fulfillment solutions, take a look at our Exacta order fulfillment brochure.

In part two of this two-part series, we’ll compare goods-to-person order fulfillment technologies including: Perfect Pick, Uni-SHUTTLE HP, FX-Quad, and others. Stay tuned…

I have been with Bastian Software Solutions since 1985 and lead a team of Information Analysts (IA’s). As the lead IA, I focus on understanding customer requirements and educate customers on the capabilities of Exacta, our supply chain software. With a strong background in both the software and warehousing industries, I help ensure Bastian Software develops high quality supply chain solutions.

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1 comment

  1. SPS Chauhan says:

    Perfect Article on Man to Goods Picking Technology. I thought that PTV should have been more expensive than PTL but looks like I was wrong :-)

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