Pick-to-Light

Overview

Pick-to-light is a system where operators are prompted by light illumination to pick the appropriate parts for an order. It aids rapid and precise selection of parts in dynamic pick situations and is commonly used within warehouses and is increasingly being used on production assembly lines for the purpose of “kitting”.

MWU2040PF in situ
A successful pick-to-light system needs to be:

  • Cost effective
  • Free from excessive field wiring and I/O
  • Simple to install
  • Easily configured / re-configured
  • Physically robust
  • Eye catching

Sorion have partnered with and become an integrator for a worldwide supplier of pick-to-light hardware that ticks all the above boxes and now pick-to-light functionality is a “bolt-on” enhancement to the Sextans RT core software product and to our turnkey capabilities.

Architecture

The Sextans RT PC communicates with the pick-to-light (PTL) Controller using a TCP/IP protocol via an Ethernet connection.

Two versions of the PTL controller are available:

  • A basic low-cost controller is capable of controlling up to 50 bin modules.
  • Larger controllers are also available that can control up to 250 modules over 5 runs of AI-Net and via RS485 connected junction boxes a total of 7999 modules can be controlled from a single Ethernet connection.

A bespoke AI-Net two core flat form cable provides both power and comms to all the pick-to-light modules in a single run of . The cable is threaded through the back of mounting ducting / brackets and is pierced by pins on the rear of the modules thus making electrical connection when they are clipped into place.

 

Each light module is assigned a unique address via the issue of an address assignment command whilst the confirm button on the target module is being held. This quick and simple mechanism allows for rapid reconfiguration and/or module swap-out should there be the need.

Every module has a multi-coloured illuminated button and can also include a four digit counter, buzzer, infra-red sensor to detect hand presence and function buttons.

Software

Sorion has written a pick-to-light control engine that acts as a generic interface between the core Sextans RT software and the pick-to-light hardware. This enables full integration with a guided assembly system, with assembly jigs and fixtures and web-based Orion traceability and reporting.

For user simplicity, it has been designed to operate from the content of two customer supplied / updated spreadsheets:

  • Recipes

This describes the part references and quantities that need picking for each build variant. It also describes how the parts are to be prompted in terms of button colour; whether the button is to flash; if the buzzer is to sound; if the picking it to be sequenced; and whether the button press should act as a multi-pick countdown i.e. one press per item taken rather than one press for all.

  • Configuration

Describes for each selection bin (module address) the module type and the part reference that it contains along with description.