Pick-to-Light Kitting Flow Racks


Creform Corporation engineers have designed a pick-to-light flow rack for a manufacturer’s assembly operation of powertrain components. The rack for the mixed-model assembly operation consists of a bank of five gravity flow racks each equipped with a skate wheel conveyor, four supply levels, and a return. Each rack’s dimensions are 39 D x 42 W x 60 in. H. And each contains 16 picking locations per rack. The individual racks are designed to hold up to 800 lb. and are built using Creform 28-mm pipe and joint.


To add to the versatility, the racks are built on wheels but once in position, they are connected to one another to create an integrated storage cell with parts to be pulled for kits. These particular Creform flow racks are outfitted with a self-contained pick-to-light system to assist the user with choosing the correct parts in order to make accurate manufacturing kits in the correct quantity. A primary benefit of the Creform pick-to-light system is that it enhances efficiency and reduces errors while greatly reducing the time required to train new associates.


The Creform pick-to-light racks are a stand-alone system powered by a basic PC and a controller mounted at the side of the rack system. This control station also features a monitor and keyboard for use by the system administrator to set up, maintain and, if needed, modify the system and picking recipes.


Picking recipes for each assembly are easily created and maintained using simple and easy to understand and manipulate Microsoft Office Excel templates. Picking recipes are initiated with a barcode scan. In this application, the various models and their corresponding barcodes are posted on the far left of the racks. Two message bars are positioned above the barcode station. The first one features system messages while the second features customizable messages that come from the recipe. Barcodes can also be used on production paperwork such as a manufacturing traveler or work order. For this user’s application, approximately ten different recipes were used.


Each of the 80 part-locations features a light for guided picking. Each light features a 4-digit display for quantity information as well as a pushbutton and infrared sensor for pick acknowledgment. With each light’s sensor, the simple act of reaching into that position’s box confirms the pick. There are seven different light colors to choose from and each can be unique to the recipe or even the pick step for color-coding purposes.


The associate that is doing the picking initiates the recipe using the barcode then follows the lights and pulls the indicated quantity. Once the last pick is made, a “GREEN” confirmation button to the far right of the rack illuminates indicating the recipe is complete and the system is ready for the picker to start the next recipe.

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