In your article on pick-to-light technology ("don't be blinded by the lights," May 2006, page 63), Steve Small (vice president of marketing and sales for Kingway) is quoted as saying "We're selling systems with 200 lights for under $l00,000." The implication seems to be that the systems are becoming quite affordable, but are they?
While working on more than 100 warehouse design projects during the last four years, I've seen plenty of clients decide against installing a $20,000 RF picking system (No-More-Errors.com) that will eliminate half their pickers and all of their errors because of the expense. Many of them don't feel they can afford to invest $20,000, much less $100,000.
In fact, the most productive and accurate customer systems I've seen in those four years have not been pick-to-light systems at all. They were either RF-scanner based (250 lines per hour) or batch picking with pick lists (300 lines per hour), followed by 100-percent scanning to verify the orders.
Over the years, I have fallen out of love with pick-to-light technology as it just doesn't deliver the 100-percent accuracy that is possible with a well-designed scanner-based system. I even know of one large pick-to-light customer that added bar-code scanning to its pick-to-light system to ensure 100-percent accuracy.
Art Avery, The Avery Way: Art Avery & Associates