More flexibility and lower costs in visual picking support
Pick-to-light is a widely used system in order picking. By means of visual displays indicating storage compartment and quantity, orders can be picked faster and with a lower error rate. The weaknesses of this method, however, are its high costs and its low flexibility, as these systems are usually installed with fixed wiring. In the “Pick-by-Tag” research project, the Center for Applied Research on Supply Chain Services and the Positioning & Networks division have teamed up with the Chair of Materials Handling, Material Flow, Logistics at the Technical University of Munich to jointly develop a completely autonomous system with wirelessly transmitting readers and compartment displays based on passive RFID tags. In this system, the compartment displays do not need a power supply of their own. As such, the containers can be flexibly reorganized at any time – at low cost and with optimum system range. As the project revealed, it was possible to charge the passive RFID tags over short distances; the reliable range is approx. 3.5 meters. This makes the RFID tags very suitable for picking in assembly applications.
As regards software, the project team optimized a software component for the initialization, configuration and monitoring of picking processes. In addition to the web front end, for example, we developed an additional Android app as well as several interfaces to RFID and ERP systems. The software also enables tag-ware relationships to be created via QR scan and for superordinate shelving nodes to be controlled at the same time, which permits better localization in large warehouses. With these innovations, the software component functions as a versatile interface between commercial warehouse and picking management systems.