Pick to Light Picking

Pick to light (or PTL) is an order picking technology for warehouses and distribution centers that utilizes lights and LEDs on racks or shelves to indicate pick locations and guide order pickers through their work. Pick to light systems increase picking efficiency compared to so-called RF picking or paper pick lists. Although PTL can been used for picking cases or eaches, it is most often used today for picking less-than-case quantities in high density/high velocity pick modules. This article provides an overview of the pros and cons of PTL and compares it to voice picking, another popular technology for improving picking productivity in the DC.

Pick to Light (PTL) picking is a highly efficient order picking method used in warehouses and distribution centers to improve accuracy and productivity. It involves the use of light indicators placed at storage locations to guide operators through the picking process.

Considerations for Implementation

Pick to Light picking is a powerful solution for warehouses seeking to optimize order fulfillment operations. By leveraging visual cues and automation, it significantly enhances accuracy, speed, and overall efficiency in the picking process. While implementation may require upfront investment and training, the long-term benefits make it a worthwhile investment for businesses looking to streamline their supply chain operations.

Advantages of Pick to Light Picking

  • Increased Productivity Reduces picking time by directing operators efficiently.
  • Accuracy Minimizes picking errors compared to paper-based or manual systems.
  • Scalability Easily scalable to accommodate growing order volumes.
  • Training Time Short learning curve for new operators due to intuitive visual guidance.
  • Real-time Data Provides instant feedback on picking progress and inventory levels.

What is the Procedure for conducting an Pick to Light


System Setup and Configuration Determine the layout of the warehouse and storage areas where PTL will be implemented. Install light modules at each picking location and integrate them with the warehouse management system (WMS) or order processing software.Define Picking Zones and Assignments Divide the warehouse into logical picking zones based on product categories, order types, or other criteria. Assign specific orders or order types to each picking zone for efficient workflow distribution. Establish Pick Rules and Priorities Define rules for picking based on factors such as order urgency, product characteristics, or customer requirements. Prioritize picking tasks to optimize overall efficiency and meet service level agreements (SLAs).


Order Reception and Allocation Receive orders into the system either automatically from the WMS or manually input them. Allocate orders to appropriate picking zones based on defined rules and priorities. Light Activation and Operator Guidance Once orders are allocated, activate the lights at the designated pick locations within each zone. Guide operators through the warehouse by illuminating specific lights corresponding to items to be picked. Operator Picking and Confirmation Operators follow the illuminated lights to the designated pick locations. Pick the required items and confirm completion using the PTL system (e.g., pressing a button on the light module). Error Handling and Escalation Implement procedures to handle picking errors or discrepancies (e.g., incorrect items or quantities). Escalate issues to supervisors or quality control personnel for resolution.


Define Reporting Requirements Determine the specific reporting needs based on business objectives, operational goals, and key performance indicators (KPIs) to be monitored. Identify stakeholders who will utilize the reports (e.g., warehouse managers, operations teams, executives). Data Collection and Integration Ensure that the PTL system is configured to collect relevant data during picking operations Pick completion times Order fulfillment rates Operator productivity metrics Inventory levels and accuracy Establish Reporting Metrics Define the metrics and dimensions to be included in the reports Daily, weekly, or monthly pick rates Order accuracy and error rates Resource utilization (e.g., operator efficiency, zone productivity)

Follow Ups

Continuous Improvement Initiatives Conduct regular reviews and assessments of the PTL picking process. Implement continuous improvement projects based on findings from reports and analysis. Training and Skill Development Provide ongoing training and development for warehouse operators using the PTL system. Ensure operators are proficient in using the technology and understand best practices for efficient picking. System Maintenance and Upgrades Schedule regular maintenance for PTL equipment and software. Stay updated with technological advancements and consider system upgrades or enhancements as needed.

What are the Types of Internal Pick To Light?

Internal Pick to Light (PTL) systems are used within a warehouse or distribution center to facilitate efficient order picking and inventory management. These systems employ light indicators to guide operators to specific storage locations where items need to be picked. There are several types of internal Pick to Light systems, each with its own characteristics and applications. Here are some common types:


Zone Picking Systems

Description: In zone picking systems, the warehouse is divided into distinct zones, and each zone is equipped with its own set of Pick to Light displays. Operation: Orders are divided among multiple operators, with each operator responsible for picking items within their assigned zone. Advantages Streamlines picking operations by reducing travel time between storage locations Allows for parallel processing of multiple orders, improving overall throughput.


Batch Picking Systems

Description: Batch picking involves picking multiple orders simultaneously in a single pass through the warehouse. Operation: Operators are directed to pick multiple items for different orders displayed on a single Pick to Light display. Advantages Increases picking efficiency and reduces labor costs by consolidating picks for multiple orders. Minimizes travel time by optimizing the sequence of picks within a batch.


Put-to-Light Systems

Description: Put-to-Light systems are used in conjunction with Pick to Light for replenishing or restocking inventory. Operation: After picking items, operators place them into designated storage bins or containers that are equipped with Put to Light displays. Advantages Simplifies restocking processes by providing clear guidance on where to place items. Improves inventory accuracy and visibility in real-time.


Cluster Picking Systems

Description: Cluster picking involves picking multiple SKUs simultaneously for a single order. Operation: Operators are guided to multiple storage locations within a designated cluster where items for the same order are stored. Advantages Optimizes picking efficiency by reducing the number of trips needed to fulfill an order. Suitable for orders containing a variety of items that are grouped together for faster processing.

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