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Radio Frequency order picking

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MANY small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) consider upgrading from conventional picking systems, using paper lists, to paperless order-fulfilment system to be too difficult, time consuming and/or too costly.

A combined initiative from Dexion Integrated Systems and Intermec Technologies is said to bring advanced order-fulfilment technology within reach of almost any organisation.

The system uses Intermec Radio Frequency in conjunction with a mobile DIS Put-to-Light cluster-picking trolley and is suitable for companies that need to frequently fulfil a large number of small orders from a reasonably large selection of stocked items.

Orders are downloaded from the customer’s host computer to DIS’s RDS system platform. The file-transfer protocol used is straight-forward, and may be as simple as plugging the customer’s picking-list printer cable into DIS’s RDS server. The RDS platform manages downloaded orders to ensure resources are efficiently deployed to fulfil the orders.

RDS sends a task instruction via Radio Frequency (RF) to a storeman in the warehouse. The storeman receives the instruction on a wireless Intermec RF device which directs him to a storage location.

The order-picker is equipped with a trolley upon which is mounted a number of cartons. Each carton represents an order to be picked.

Once the storeman has arrived at the designated storage location he uses the Intermec RF device to scan a barcode label at the location. This confirms the correct item is to be picked.

Light displays above each carton on the trolley are illuminated. Each light display shows numerically how many units from that location the storeman must placed into the carton. The storeman presses an acknowledge button, extinguishing the light when the order has been fully picked.

A decrement function allows actual quantity picked to be adjusted if there is insufficient stock available at the pick-face to completely fulfil the order.

When all lights on the trolley have been extinguished, the storeman receives a new pick instruction on the Intermec RF device. The process continues until all orders on the trolley have been fulfilled. The storeman then takes these completed orders to despatch for packing and shipping.

As an alternative to reading the RF device’s screen, the storeman could wear a headset and be directed to the storage location by an automated voice instruction.

Imaging and an RFID reader is also built-in to the Intermec 750 series RF devices, so the initial investment is protected with a high-technology upgrade path.

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