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Smart Cart Batch Picking

Compete with Robots at a fraction of the cost

Smart Cart Batch Picking

Problem Statement

The Customer needs to pick orders of Health and Beauty Aid (HABA) items that will be crossdocked directly to local drugstores from a few hundred SKUs.  Historically as a 3PL this would be accomplished by using a simple RF or paper picking and temporary labor.  However, calculations for peak period staffing indicated a requirement of more than 60 pickers per shift which would not be practical.  As an alternative, the use of automated dispensers was explored. However this option would have been a multi-million dollar investment and would not be ready quickly enough for the necessary go-live requirement.  StreamTech completed an abbreviated engineering study and recommended the use of “smart” light-directed Put carts with about 12 pickers per shift.  The solution was implemented at a fraction of the cost and approximately the same staffing as the dispensing solution.

Order Waving and Association

SmartCart Association
Orders available in the customer’s WMS are passed to the SmartCart application where supervisors can group and select orders for waves based on a variety of criteria such as due date, carrier, or customer.  The system estimates the cubic volume of each order and selects one of three carton sizes as needed.  In loading, a Smart Cart indicates the quantity of each of the three sizes based on the current demand indicating to the operator to load the number of each. Each shipper is prelabeled with a simple serial number.  The loading operator scans in to the cart, then scans each case to a slot on the cart. The system automatically assigns the next available orders to the cart.

Picking Process

Put to Light
Each cart operator sees their picks up to 2 bays ahead in the flow racking. At each location, pressing the “Pick Here” indicator gives the number of items to be picked.  Once picked the put-lights on the cart illuminate. Each ‘reach’ from the flow rack can typically be leveraged in several ‘puts’, allowing for fantastic pick throughputs per operator.  Also, since quantities at each “put”, the batch picking system helps ensure accuracy by providing a quantity check on each line picked.

System Picking Flow

Smart Cart Picking
Up to 12 carts circulate through the flow rack area.  Each cart gets its own color of light in order to help operators keep their picks segregated.  Very high moving SKUs can be loaded in multiple flow lanes if desired. With all carts in moving, up to 6,000 lines per hour can be attained. Intuitive controls on each cart allow operators to easily process exceptions such as stockouts or product that has found to be damaged. 

Carton Unload

SmartCart Picking
As orders are completed, the put-here indicators on the cart indicate “Done”.  Once all orders are complete, the cart is taken to the unload area where cartons are removed.  The Smart Cart Batch Picking System keeps productivity and accuracy statistics on every operator.  Now the Smart Cart can be redirected back to the Association area.

System Benefits

  • 500 lines per hour
  • Short learning curve
  • language and ambient noise independent
  • decrementing enhances accuracy
  • Easy to relocate if needed
  • Relatively low cost / High ROI
  • No conveyor required
  • low maintenance requirements

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