Is Pick-to-Light More Than A Stepping Stone?

Pick-to-Light directs manual picking by lighting up bins. The Lean literature is mute about it, it’s not in the Industry 4.0 technology stack, and Wikipedia doesn’t have an article about it. Pick-to-Light system suppliers are touting it as part of both Lean and Industry 4.0 but no one else is chiming in. In the field, however, you find it in many factories, where it reduces training time and picking errors, while increasing picker productivity.

Pick-to-Light fits best in usability engineering. It’s neither jidoka nor automation because it just prompts the operator. And it’s not Poka-Yoke because it doesn’t physically prevent mistakes, the way flip-lids can. It looks like an intermediate technology, a stepping stone on the way to full picking automation but is it? It can also be viewed as a move towards using technology to make work easier for people instead of automating it.

Continue reading…