Traditional pick-by-light technology is becoming obsolete

Types of Pick-to-Light Systems

5 minute read

Pick-by-light and Put-to-light technology has been around for more than 35 years but has changed very little - until recently.  The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technologies are transforming the supply chain industry and having a dramatic impact on the type and cost of order fulfillment technologies.

There are two types of put-to-light systems: traditional and modern.  Traditional systems are the typical red and green light bars that are hard-wired to your racks (or sometimes specialized picking carts).  Modern systems are wireless cloud-connected devices that can be easily installed and relocated as needed.  

Here's a look at both systems in detail.


Traditional Pick-to-Light Systems

Let’s look at the most familiar technology – the one that’s been around for 35 years:

Traditional pick-by-light technology is becoming obsolete

Traditional pick-by-light an put-to-light has a long history of increased productivity - generally up to 50% over paper picking methods.  This order picking technology is familiar, comfortable, and proven.  These systems are ideal for fast-moving lines where milliseconds count.


If you have a fast-moving line, this is the system for you!  A system integrator can help you combine the right hardware, software, and technology.


Some of the most popular traditional put-to-light systems are:

  • Honeywell Intelligrated
  • Lightning Pick
  • Bastian Solutions
  • Dematic



Modern Pick-to-Light Technology

In the last five to ten years, the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and the Industrial-Internet-of-Things (IIoT) has exploded into every sector and industry, transforming the way we live and work, and do business.  This is even true in the supply chain sector, where IoT and IIoT are revolutionizing operations throughout the warehouse - not just for picking and putting inventory.

New Wireless Pick-to-Light Devices


Voodoo Robotics, a leading innovator in order fulfillment solutions, is revolutionizing picking automation with wireless IoT Cloud Display Devices.  A simple URL, like what you use in your web browser, causes the associated device to light up or flash with two lines of custom text in almost any language.  The wireless devices can be attached to racks, carts, totes, bins or almost anywhere you need.  The devices run on two AA batteries that can last for years, depending on usage. 

In a pick-to-light example, the device could display a pickers name, the SKU, and quantity to pick. Some orders might need color and size information, while others might need a date code or serial number. The device can even play a custom tune for each picker.  Similarly, the same device can be used in a put-to-light scenario, instructing the picker to place the item into a specific tote or other location.  

Devices can be easily relocated and even used for non-picking operation such as kitting, quarantine, service tracking, digital signage and anywhere custom messaging is required. 

Cloud Display Device Features:

  • Wireless
  • Two lines of custom text
  • Lights up, flashes, and/or plays a custom tune
  • Stores background data and can light up or flash with instructions
  • Simple URL integration
  • Hardware as a Service (HaaS) 


Let’s look at the individual features in greater detail:



Cloud Display Devices can be attached to racks, carts, totes, bins, forklifts, bay doors, or almost anywhere using industrial outdoor double-sided tape, zip ties, screws, etc.

The device's two AA batteries can last for years - depending on usage.  In fact, you can even estimate the battery life by adjusting the display brightness and duration (and flashing ability).

Devices can be relocated as needed and even used for non-picking operations.


Two-Line Text Display

Devices display two lines of custom text in most languages.  Each line holds 16 characters with additional text scrolling.   


Light’s Up, Flashes and/or Plays a Custom Tune

Devices can either light up and remain lit or flash for a set period of time.  They can also play a custom tune.   


Store Static Background Information

You can store and access data as needed.The devices can store multiple sets of data - simply press the button to scroll through screens.  The most obvious examples would be SKU and quantity or order number.  The device could also display the QA status, arrival date/time and expiration date of a product waiting to be placed into inventory.  


Hardware as a Service (Haas)

Voodoo Robotics' leased-model allows you to scale up, utilizing more lights when demand is high and scale back down during the slow season.  Lease only the lights you need with no contract and zero risk.  This leased-based model also allows you to move your expense from capital expenditures (CAPEX) to operating expenditures (OPEX).  Companies needed a large number of devices may prefer to purchase rather than lease. 


Pick-to-light can be very expensive, but it doesn't have to be.  How much does pick-to-light cost?


Simple URL Integration

A simple URL, like what you type into your a browser, causes the device to light up with two lines of custom text.  This same URL makes the devices simple to integrate with any modern ERP or WMS software.  It is so simple, you can even use it with Google Sheets or Excel.


Expanded Uses:

Cloud Display Devices can be used in several ways:

  • Picking carts
  • Pick-by-light
  • Put-by-light
  • Kitting & Sequencing
  • Quarantine
  • Will-Call
  • Flow Racks
  • Service tracking

 Ways to use Cloud Display Devices: pick-to-light, put-to-light, quarantine, kitting, order sortation, will-call and more 

Looking for more info?  You might be interested in a detailed analysis pick-to-light system costs or the advantages of light directed picking.  The 2018 Buyer's Guide to Put-to-Light will catch you up with the latest in put-to-light (and pick-to-light) technology, including costs, advantages, types of systems, uses, implementation, and more.



New call-to-action