Pick and Pass – Zone Routing Conveyor
In a “person to product” material handling concept, order selectors travel to pick locations to select product and place it into the appropriate tote or carton as directed. Order selection systems usually consist of a variety of zones, media, and technology. Pick zone transfers can be utilized to route work through picking areas efficiently and increase the productivity of operators.
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Where pick modules can be several hundred feet long and multiple levels high it is critical to limit the handling required by humans, this includes passing of cartons in zones where no work is present, in order to maximize their productivity. A zone routing conveyor system allows a shipping carton or order tote to be routed through a pick system to the exact zones where work is located.
Why are Pick Zone Transfers used?
- Reduce the amount “dead heading” through zones where picks are not required
- Automatically target the placement of orders into zones where picks are required
- Ergonomically handle and route work into the start of pick zones
- Interfaces between WMS (Warehouse Management Systems) and WCS (Warehouse Control Systems) can provide positive feedback that work has already been processed in each zone
- Scanners tied to the WCS provide positive feedback on where each order is in the pick system
How do they work?
- Cartons or totes (containers) are inducted into the picking area either from another pickzone or from a centralized induction point
- The container travels along a center conveyor towards the pick zone transfer
- Prior to the pick zone transfer there are several queuing positions preceding a scan point
- At the scanpoint the container’s barcode is scanned to detect the license plate and capture that information
- The barcode is packaged and sent to the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)
- The PLC sends this information through an interface layer to the Warehouse Execution System (WES)
- WES responds back with a message directing the container into the zone where an open pick resides
- Once the container transfers into the pickzone operators process the container by scanning the barcode and being directed to process the open picks within that zone by either the WMS or the WES
- As picks are made messages are transmitted between the pick system and the Conveyor Control System (CCS)
- The container is pushed manually back to the center takeaway conveyor and the induction to the pick zone transfer
- This process is repeated until such time that no open picks are open the container is allowed to pass through the transfer and into downstream zones as directed by the routing system