Automated solution that utilizes a choice of control technology to transmit order data via powered conveyor, triggering light-directed picking.
IXONIA, WI (December 18, 2015) — The LP Zone Free zoneless, scan-free, box-to-picker order fulfillment system by Lightning Pick, a Matthews Automation Solutions’ brand, will be featured in an installation capabilities video at MODEX 2016 in Booth 1037c. The fully automated solution maximizes picker efficiency and balances workloads by freeing pickers from assigned zones; instead they can move to where the work is. The system also eliminates scanning, excessive box handing and other non-picking related activities that typically waste as much as 70% of a picker’s time—particularly in direct-to-consumer order fulfillment.
The system can be driven by a choice of control technologies for maximum installation efficiency. Lightning Pick offers LP Zone Free with patented MPower Technology—which doesn’t require additional warehouse control systems (WCS) or RFID. MPower utilizes motor-driven roller (MDR) controller cards as the control platform (which can also power other automated material handling systems, such as A-frame dispensers, sorters, print-and-apply labeling, check weigh stations and more). Alternately, the system can be controlled by a facility’s new or existing WCS and device platform.
The LP Zone Free system transports reusable plastic containers or cardboard shipping containers travelling atop an MDR-powered conveyor. At the start of the line, a photo-eye sensor detects the presence of an empty order container or box, prompting a fixed scanner to scan the attached barcode license plate number (LPN) automatically. The data captured by the scan is transmitted to the first MDR conveyor zone’s controller card, while the conveyor advances the empty container into the same zone. All the information associated with the order is transmitted from one controller card to the next, along the full conveyor line, as the container moves from zone to zone. Information is passed via the integral MPower Technology, which uses virtual data tags — bypassing the need to access a separate, central programmable logic controller (PLC).
As the container and its information enter each MDR conveyor zone, the controller card determines if there are any picks in the associated inventory bay. If there are, the controller card illuminates a colored light on an individual order control panel attached alongside each MDR conveyor zone. The controller card simultaneously triggers the corresponding Lightning Pick Pick-MAX pick-to-light modules at the required stock keeping unit (SKU) pick faces in the associated inventory bay.
With LP Zone Free, pickers wearing Lightning Pick’s patented Watch-Me devices on their wrists are free to move to wherever orders need to be filled. This “bucket brigade” style picking methodology balances workflows and eliminates bottlenecks. The Watch-Me devices interact with the Pick-MAX light modules, tracking individual picker productivity for every pick. Upon completion of the pick task, the operator presses a button on the order control panel and the controller card directs the conveyor to automatically advance the order container to the next area containing SKUs required for that order. It also passes the updated pick data to the next conveyor zone, and simultaneously updates the master order database.
“Lightning Pick’s zoneless box-to-picker solution eliminates tote or carton handling, as well as a significant amount of time previously required of pickers who first had to manually scan each tote that entered their picking zone to trigger the pick-to-light. Studies have shown that each scan can take up to 8 seconds, which is time that could instead be spent picking,” says Joe Pelej, Marketing Manager for Lightning Pick.
Further, Pelej continues, “The Zone Free system boosts accuracy with its unique combination of pick- and put-to-light. Order numbers, quantities, multi-container messages and other pick directions are shared through both lights on the rack and lights mounted on the conveyor. Pickers select the right SKU and quantities off the rack or shelf, then put the item to the correct illuminated container on the conveyor.”
Other benefits include the elimination of ergonomic strain on pickers, since the powered conveyor rollers move the order containers along the line. “This means no more stretching, reaching, pulling or pushing by pickers,” he adds. “Plus, it’s ideal for operations processing a high volume of very small orders. And, because the system is easy to use, new personnel can be trained on it very quickly.”
Featured in Booth 1037c will be Lightning Pick’s new video showing their work with Fastenal, North America’s largest fastener distributor. Fastenal now utilizes LP Zone Free at five facilities nationwide. The video is a case study of Fastenal’s “T” HUB centralized vending product distribution center in Indianapolis, which uses more than 5,000 Lightning Pick lights. Use of the box-to-picker technology—tightly integrated to their warehouse management systems (WMS) and other material handling automation like Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS)—has resulted in major operational efficiency gains. Fastenal reports a 35% increase in pick rate productivity, and nearly 100% accuracy levels.
The video of Lightning Pick’s Zone Free installation at Fastenal is available on the Lightning Pick YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/LightningPick), lightningpick.com website, or can be seen at Booth 1037c throughout MODEX 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia—April 4-7, 2016. For more information, contact Joe Pelej at 262.250.2143, or by email at [email protected], or visit lightningpick.com
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ABOUT LIGHTNING PICK
Lightning Pick, a Matthews Automation Solutions’ brand, delivers advanced pick-to-light, put-to-light, pack-to-light, batch picking carts, light sleds and other paperless picking, kitting, assembly and sortation systems from two locations in Germantown and Ixonia, Wisconsin. Our globally recognized automated technologies drive increased productivity, quality and efficiency across Lean supply chains—from manufacturing through order fulfillment. In 2014, Lightning Pick added the sales, support and service of all Pick-MAX light-directed products, formerly by IPTI.
ABOUT MATTHEWS AUTOMATION SOLUTIONS
Matthews Automation Solutions—a division of Matthews International Corporation—designs, manufactures and distributes a wide range of marking, coding and industrial automation technologies and solutions. Manufacturers, suppliers and distributors worldwide rely on Matthews’ integrated systems to identify, track, control and pick products at the highest levels of accuracy and throughput. For handling challenges in manufacturing, packaging or distribution, Matthews’ combined expertise delivers the integrated solution that meets an organization’s needs today, and grows with them tomorrow. These automated and semi-automated marking, coding, control, sortation, picking and verification technologies and software streamline manufacturing, distribution and order fulfillment processes to maximize productivity.