Engineers welcome new generation of Pick-to-Light sensors

18 September 2007

In response to unrelenting pressure for greater process efficiency and product quality, engineers in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution are constantly seeking greater capabilities in pick-to-light systems.

Part Pick Verification for Order Fulfillment
Part Pick Verification for Order Fulfillment

Banner Engineering Europe’s senior application engineer, Lee Kielblock, and managing director, Peter Mertens, explain how the sensor, one of the key elements in these systems, is advancing to help meet the need.

What is Pick-to-Light:
Pick-To-Light sensors interface with a control system to guide an assembly operator or stock person through a preset sequence of actions, usually incorporating an indicator light to signal the correct parts bin.

A PLC turns on the sensor at the correct bin and waits to receive a signal confirming correct part was picked before turning on the next light in the sequence.

Typical Pick-To-Light applications include automotive, household appliance or electronic assembly lines.

When manufacturers build new plants in developing markets, Pick-to-Light systems can be very helpful in training and ensuring quality and flexibility, with a less experienced work force.

Advantages of Pick-to-Light Error-Proofing Systems:

- Error is reduced or eliminated because operators are guided in a logical sequence.

- The lights allow the operator to easily and quickly locate the correct parts bin thereby increasing productivity.

- Accelerated training, particularly beneficial for environments where operators are cross-trained or less experienced.

- Floor space can be reduced as it is possible to place bins in multi-level installations and close proximity because the picking lights will eliminate errors.

Three Basic Types of Pick-to-Light:
Indicator lights only: When activated, this light guides the operator to the correct bin or container. There is no verification that parts have been taken.

Indicator lights with separate verification: The pick light leads the operator to the correct bin, and a sensor or pushbutton verifies that a part has been taken. There is an alarm if the operator chooses a part from the wrong bin.

Indicator lights with built-in verification: More sophisticated Pick-to-Light sensors offer both the indicator light and the verification sensor or pushbutton in one single package.

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