Lead Forensics

Light and voice picking reduces picking and packing times

The warehouses of the future may have no human workers, with robots instead picking, packing and delivering goods. For most small to medium sized warehouses, this will not happen soon, but there is technology available now that can help to pick and packing operations be more efficient. These systems can be purchased at a reasonable cost.


Most picking and packing operations involve a worker walking to a warehouse location picking an item, which is carried to a packing table using a trolley. The speed at which this is done depends on how quickly the picker can locate goods. In a busy warehouse with thousands of goods stored on hundreds of shelves, working at speed becomes increasingly challenging.

A pick-to-light system uses light displays that direct the picker to the correct location. When they arrive at the section in which the item is stored, a light display confirms that they have found the right location, and indicates how many of the items they have to pick.

In a typical system, the operator scans a barcode on the picking list. This causes lights in the warehouse to direct the worker to the correct location.

Businesses including garment retailers, grocers, sporting goods shops and personal care sellers have benefited thanks to pick-to-light systems, which save them money by making the picking process leaner, shorter, and more accurate.

Voice picking

In voice picking, workers wear a portable computer, headset, and microphone. The main warehouse computer system processes orders and transmits voice commands to the picker to tell them where the next item to be picked is located. The operator tells the computer that they have received the picking orders, then confirms that they have picked the item.

Manufacturers of voice picking systems claim that they improve work rates by 15%, errors decrease by up to 90%, and picking accuracy is between 99.97% and 99.99%.

Cost savings

The people who sell light and voice picking systems say that they can pay for themselves within six to twelve months. This is achieved through increased work rates and fewer errors.

Both voice and light picking systems are hands-free, so workers can concentrate on picking rather than carrying clipboards with picking lists that they frequently need to refer to.

Warehouses that use automatic systems still need the best manual handling equipment and packing stations made from good quality tubular steel. Warehouses should be designed well, with top class warehouse shelving and storage equipment. It is essential that trolleys and other manual handling equipment should be premium quality and built to last for many years.

Unless a business can afford expensive robots, they rely on human workers. Automated technology such as light and voice picking systems empower workers to be more efficient. The human brain is fallible, can easily forget details and makes mistakes. Automated warehouse picking systems are better than humans at finding the exact location of items. In other areas, humans are far better than machines, so are unlikely to be replaced, at least for the next few years.

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