Prevent the Mistake of Picking the Wrong Parts

Speastech Smartbins are a pick-to-light bin system that also has infrared detectors to sense if a hand is put into the wrong bin. If that happens, an alarm goes off. Smartbins can be linked to an ethernet to download custom pick lists

Mistake-proofing, or “poka-yoke” in Japanese, is a lean manufacturing principle aimed at eliminating errors by preventing, correcting, or drawing attention to human mistakes as they occur. In the complex and fast-paced environment of a manufacturing setting, ensuring that the correct parts are picked for assembly or shipping is crucial to maintaining quality, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. One innovative technology that aligns with the principle of mistake-proofing in this context is the “pick to light” system. This system is designed to minimize the risk of human error in the picking process, thereby enhancing productivity and reducing the likelihood of defects.

A “pick to light” system utilizes a series of lights and sensors installed on storage bins or shelves to guide workers to the correct parts needed for assembly or packaging. Each light corresponds to a specific item and illuminates to indicate the part to be picked, along with displaying the quantity needed. The worker then picks the illuminated item and presses a button or sensor to confirm the action, which in turn extinguishes the light and, if applicable, moves the system to the next item to be picked. This method is highly intuitive and reduces the time workers spend searching for items, thereby increasing picking speed and accuracy.

The efficiency of “pick to light” systems in mistake-proofing lies in their ability to provide immediate visual cues that can be easily followed, significantly reducing the chances of picking the wrong part. This is especially important in manufacturing environments where the cost of errors can be high, not just in terms of rework and waste, but also in potential damage to customer relationships and brand reputation due to defective products. By ensuring that the correct parts are picked the first time, “pick to light” systems help to streamline operations, reduce waste, and improve overall product quality.

Moreover, “pick to light” systems are adaptable to a variety of manufacturing environments and can be customized to fit specific operational needs. They can be integrated with other manufacturing and inventory management systems, providing real-time data that can help in optimizing inventory levels, forecasting, and planning. This integration can lead to a more responsive and flexible manufacturing operation, capable of quickly adapting to changes in demand or production requirements.

In summary, “pick to light” systems embody the principles of mistake-proofing by offering a simple, effective, and efficient method to minimize human error in the picking process within manufacturing settings. By providing clear visual cues and immediate feedback, these systems not only enhance productivity and accuracy but also contribute to a culture of quality and continuous improvement. As manufacturers continue to seek ways to optimize operations and reduce waste, technologies like “pick to light” systems play a crucial role in achieving these objectives, ultimately leading to more successful and competitive manufacturing operations.


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